Once again Highways Performance Space and Gallery proved to be the venue for art that pushes the boundaries or that delves into subjects many artists dare not explore. Ironstone, who presented his evening-long work I Share The Body for one night only at Highways on Friday December 13, 2019, follows in the footsteps of such well-known LGBT performance artists as Tim Miller, John Fleck and others.
Ironstone (he/him) studied dance at Juilliard School in New York before pursuing a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures with a Minor in Visual and Performing Arts Education at UCLA. He studied Anthropology and Botany in Guatemala and Belize and wrote that he is “most inspired at the moment with counter-instruction in our own centrality. Freedom without responsibility is chaos.” I quote Ironstone here because his work at Highways had moments of directed chaos that dove headlong into the subject of gender identification and exposed the pain and discrimination that is often cast upon those strong enough to undertake this journey.
The title I Share The Body gave an insight into Ironstone’s work. His very strong duet with Julienne Mackey (she/they) clearly reflects the struggle of someone living in a body that is not the gender with which he/she/they identify. The duet depicts the female persona ripping itself free of her/their imprisonment, donning a pair of silver, thigh-high boots and triumphally strutting off into a new and proud horizon.
All the performers were dressed in a combination of Brazilian style carnival feathers, sheer stockings, draped material, gay S&M leather chest harnesses, and including a few spike-studded dog collars. One wore heels and another combat boots. It was full out high fashion camp with a very sober and serious message to convey.
A powerful performance was given by all, but it was the statuesque Jordi (she/they) who stood out as she crawled around the stage vocalizing a crying song that spoke to every transgender person who has suffered, committed suicide or, worse, was murdered. No words were uttered, just a continuous and painful weeping, but the message was crystal clear; a message that dug deep into one’s marrow.
Before the audience was guided into the performance space and throughout the evening, Matías Anaya performed live on the guitar, electric guitar, percussion and produced pre-recorded electronic music from her/their computer. Anaya’s music combined of electronic rock with an occasional Brazilian samba. It was sometimes driving and at other times soulful.
Ironstone, along with choreographer/performer Alán Pérez, incorporated typical modern dance movements with hypersexual hip thrusts that shifted back and forth to further his message of gender fluidity. These movements bordered on becoming self-indulgent but withdrew before crossing that line.
Some of the lyrics were lost during the self-effacing song performed by Sy Anon while his colleagues ground their crotches against his arms and thighs or kissed him on his neck. It screamed of loneliness amid an orgy of sensations.
A large and very tall Devon’te Jameson dressed in all white, including a featured mask and head piece, entered and had mocked anonymous sex with Ironstone as the others watched or urged him on, followed by Jordi again breaking one’s heart with her/their dynamic and gorgeous singing, acting while playing a brass music bowl. There was a wonderful and powerfully solo by Pérez and another by Ironstone that came across as a celebration and acceptance of his chosen persona.
I Share The Body was not an easy work to watch due to its rawness. It investigated a world not visited by most of society but known by many who share the label of deviant so incorrectly stamped upon their forehead by those who insist that their world is the normal one. Ironstone’s work is proof that this once forced into hiding community has begun to fight its way into visibility and demanding acceptance.
I Share The Body was directed by Ironstone with choreography by Alán Pérez and Ironstone. The fabulous Costumes and Styling were by Christopher Florendo with pieces from Jovan Wolf and Escandolo.xyz. Original music was by Matías Anaya, Sy Anon, and Jordi.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle, December 16, 2019.
To visit Ironstone’s website, click here.
For more information on Highways Performance Space and Gallery, click here.
Featured image: Jordi and Julienne Mackey in I Share The Body – Photo by LA Dance Chronicle