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Sofia Gorder wants you to think about evolution the changing species, that is, of the old-fashioned American housewife.
Gorder, director of the dance program at Salt Lake City's Rowland Hall, will collaborate with Juan Aldape for this weekend's multigenre concert. "What Type Are You?" features dance, visual art and spoken word on such topics as gender, identity and immigration.
If all that sounds like a potentially charged evening, it's supposed to, says Gorder, artistic director of InFlux Dance Company.
"My aim is to get someone who doesn't have much exposure to the arts to think about it in an intellectual way," she said. "It's not meant to just entertain. We want to take these ideas and create something that will spark dialogue."
Gorder and Aldape also purposefully chose an intimate urban space The Rose Establishment, a Gateway-area coffee shop to present their work. "When people are four feet away from the work, there is a different impact versus being removed and watching it," Gorder said. "They're a part of it. They're in it. I think audience gets accidentally engaged."
The first half of the bill is Gorder's piece featuring 11 female dancers dressed like traditional women in the 1950s. The work is set to an old record explaining "how to be a proper housewife," and through the piece dancers literally slough off that idea until they are dancing in underwear. The movement becomes more crazed with the dancers acting like monkeys and even simulating an orgasm, Gorder said.
As another level of meaning, around the venue will be a series of paintings by Sherisa Bly of a woman turning into a robot.
"I'm constantly taken by the stereotypes of gender roles," said Gorder, who is a teacher and a mother, as well as her family's breadwinner. "Now, women are making the money, but we still try to fill these ingrained cultural norms that we are supposed to uphold cook dinner, clean, do the laundry and the balance is almost impossible."
It has been challenging to confront the issues in Gorder's piece, said Eileen Rojas, a social worker, who dances with Movement Forum and RawMoves Dance Company.
"I instantly thought of June Cleaver from 'Leave It to Beaver,' and it's easy to think that just because I live in 2011 that I don't conform to that idea [of a woman], but I began to realize that I kind of do on a subconscious level that I didn't really know existed," she said. "But I think the dance can be seen as really freeing for women."
The second half of the show features Aldape's solo, "A Comic Hero of Two Cultures," on immigration and social and community boundaries.
Aldape, who was born in Mexico but raised in Salt Lake City, says the piece grew out of his personal experiences of having multiple identities. He was the first member of his family to attend college, graduating in modern dance from the University of Utah. And although he cherished his opportunity to dance, U. studios offered a stark contrast to the social and cultural atmosphere of his Glendale neighborhood.
"The idea of immigration tensions is not specific to national borders, but also community borders the east side versus the west side and there are class issues," Aldape said. "Some people have their own personal borders about how they act. This piece is what I call dancing on the border."
The work is performed to audio tracks Aldape wrote and composed, as well as other musical selections, such as "ethnic movements and fast beats" set to the national anthem. He also offers a hyperbolic monologue about how tamales can save America's economy.
"I find that sometimes dance isn't the best way to express an idea onstage," Aldape said. "As much as my identity is a hybrid, so is my art, and my hope is that art will inspire dialogue and action."
'What Type Are You?'
When • April 22-23, 8:30 p.m.
Where • The Rose Establishment, 235 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Info • $5 suggested donation at the door