WOMAN is a brave exploration of the conflict between biological sex and gender identity within the body of a trans-male performer. In the format of a self-objectifying catwalk show the performer Daniel Mariblanca presents a shameless series of (fe)male identities created through gendered objects: wigs, high-heels and skirts. Completely naked in the pauses between costume changes, he uses several microphones to create subtle and powerful effects through the amplification of breathing, swallowing sounds and floor-humping. Central to the piece is a repetitive and hypnotic movement of the head that was highlighted in the trailer of SpringForward 2017. It starts slowly, on a dimly lit stage, Mariblanca's back is to the audience, presenting two profiles by swinging the head from left to right – like the two polar opposites of the gender spectrum co-existing in each human being. It then intensifies in speed and variety of facial expressions to reveal a plethora of identities. WOMAN might not be offering something never seen before in its first part, but in the end together Mariblanca and choreographer Andreas Constantinou create memorable and visceral imagery.
performed by Himherandit
Tender, raw and powerfully liberating (from those cages we don’t know we inhabit), WOMAN stages Daniel Mariblanca, a trans performer who will take us from the land of stereotypes to the home of wonder. The structure of Andreas Constantinou’s choreography is key to this endeavour: surprising and illuminating.
Daniel lays naked, face down, caged by microphones, surrounded by glitzy clothing, photographic and orgasmic, completely on display for our enjoyment. Yet the exposure seems painful. Daniel escapes all microphones but one, he sits, and tries to speak, but only gulping, burping, retching noises will come. Stomach heaving, he collapses wasted to the floor, harassed by uncontrollable movements. But this is not the end: through drums and darkness he rises, and faces us, again and again, it is hypnotizing. His eyes glow and shine. Empowered, with breathtaking intensity, he claims the right to undo all binaries, and choose both dress and tracksuit.
Last year, Miryam Mariblanca (as she was called then) was the standout performer in Andreas Constantinou’s bruising The WOMANhouse. The same pairing returns in the equally hard-hitting solo WOMAN, Mariblanca now called Daniel, using the male pronoun, and recognisably the same person. The solo turns on that nexus of corporeality, performance and presence, Mariblanca hurling his naked body to the floor, costuming his bare-breasted figure with scraps of feminised clothing and enacting a range of gendered walking styles: sashays, strides, stomps. He stages a shocking “rape” of a stiletto shoe by a microphone; emits chokes and retches that suggest struggles from within the very organs of his body. The extraordinary, extended last scene sees him twisting violently and unremittingly from side to side, until we sense not just the lateral binaries of eyes, arms, nipples, legs, but the axial singularities of nose, mouth, spine, crotch, and a whole vortex of indeterminacies and dissonances that together constitute this (and the) human being.