Gracious and striking dancers Peter Šavel and Tereza Ondrová, stage their production of Boys Who Like to Play with Dolls at Dance Base—part of Czech Showcase @ Fringe 2015—having successfully presented the piece in New York, Sweden, Greece, Russia, Slovakia and of course the Czech Republic. It’s hardly surprising it has garnered such an international audience, considering it has such an international message. Wherever you’re from, society instills gender stereotypes from childhood—girls play with dolls and boys don’t cry.
The theme of gender is explored within the choreography, the two dancers performing sequences that begin gender neutral, and then grow to incorporate movements and gestures that conform to gender stereotypes. These movements then evolve further to become more exaggerated and intense, the attitudes of gender passing back and forth between the performers with quick force so they both experience masculinity and femininity, exploring and bending these conventions. The dancers also appear to portray characters going through their life, struggling to understand themselves and how they are meant to relate to each other. Where do they fit? Do they want to lead, or to be led?
Boys Who Like to Play with Dolls builds strongly almost to its conclusion, but towards the end, the choreography feels entangled and unclear in its intention. Furthermore, as the audience walk in before the start of the performance, the dancers talk amongst themselves about the fact that they are nervous and where they feel tension in their bodies, in a humorous tone that doesn’t fit with the rest of the piece and thus feels unnecessary.
The choreography is intriguing to watch; even when the dancers perform the same movements, they are not in perfect synchronisation. Rather, they use their individuality to reflect how the movement feels to them, again fitting with the theme of breaking convention.