In the beginning it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, or so we've been told. Director Winnie Cheung has a different idea. In her experimental dance film What If, she questions our creation. Through an idyllic sequence of mystical movement, her film offers a possibility of life where individuals are defined by so much more than gender.
Cheung shared her approach to the piece with The Advocate.
"When does a story become a myth? Is it just the matter of time? As an Asian-American immigrant growing up in a mixed Catholic and Buddhist household, I was bombarded by stories about the birth of the universe, the birth of Jesus Christ, the birth of America — but they were all just stories to me. None of them ever fit me. Just like popular culture, if you don't see characters and themes reflected in yourself, you can't connect. But unlike books, magazines, or films, you can't create another creation myth. Or can you?
"With What If, I set out to craft three characters that fell somewhere between the gender spectrum. I wanted to make sure that our creators were not defined by gender, but by their movement and personality. The film's choreographer, Elena Vazintaris, and I pulled imagery and symbolism from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. We were particularly drawn to the Magician, the Fool, and the Star. Each card embodied various blends of masculinity and femininity. Ickarus Corbacho of LACTIC Inc. helped us style each character with gender-nonbinary pieces.
The film is a blend of staccato choreography and fluid improvised movement, showing how gender can complement each other instead being at odds with one another. Shot at the majestic Innisfree Garden in Millbrook, N.Y., the location gives the revised myth an heir of eternalness. It's a utopian dream and the ultimate 'what if' for those identifying outside the gender binary norm."