Winnipeg’s Bahay Perlas breaking stigmas against Drag Culture

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Collective seeks to break stigma

Mildred German

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Bahay Perlas (House of Pearls) is the first of its kind in Winnipeg, MB. It is a welcomed space to break stigmas against drag culture. It is a collective that welcomes drag and non-drag artists.

Such that the unique approach is necessarily timely. On top of the worsening systemic racism, white nationalism, and police violence amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there too is an increase of gender-based violence against women and LGBTQ+ communities of colour.

Drag and Queer cultures have been taboos, yet gaining victories over time in the blood-and-sweat fights for dignity and rights. Particularly the 2019 Stonewall’s 50th Anniversary, drags and trans made historic marks in the LGBTQ and gender rights struggle.

African-American gay liberation activist, Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992), who was a self-proclaimed drag queen, was one of the first trans women and drag queens to visit the Stonewall Inn, which only allowed gay men. The Stonewall Riot has become one of the historic LGBTQ movements that helped pushed more accessibility to trans, Black, people of colour, queer, and lesbians.

TRADITION MEETS FILIPINX DRAG

Bahay Perlas knows the need for welcoming spaces and possible futures for younger generations. Its dedication in breaking stigmas against drag culture reflects too in their work in cultivating and building skills for Filipinx drag queens.

Two Filipinx queens, Lady Fortuna (Christian Alcera) and Special K (Kiel Galera), will represent Bahay Perlas in the 2021 Young Lungs Dance Exchange’s Research Series this month. Both queens were birthed through the PTE Drag Performance Class of 2018 and 2019 and have incredible storytelling, music, and dance talents. They have been featured in numerous performance acts such as drag cabarets, parades, and films.

On March 18, Bahay Perlas will present a workshop that will offer skill sharing, and

movement ideas.This event will be joined by choreographer Joseph Sevillo, a dance teacher and choreographer for Shelley Shearer School of Dance, and Director Hazel Venzon, artistic director and producer for U ‘N I Together Productions. Both Sevillo and Venzon are supporters of Bahay Perlas and its artistic practices to cultivate the collective’s growth.

On March 21, Bahay Perlas will present their creative research from their time in residence with Young Lungs Dance Exchange. Bahay Perlas will use this dance residency to work with Joseph Sevillo, their in-house choreographer.

A dedicated time to researching Filipino indigenous dances will also be happening in collaboration with the dance instructor and Production Chair of Magdaragat and local dance instructor Nerissa Mabel “Goldie” Garcia and Nicole Tamayo, on the the concept of embedding traditional movements found in Filipino Folk Dancing into contemporary drag performance.

Both these March 18 and 21 events are pay-what-you-can. Young Lungs Dance Exchange’s Research Series is generously supported by Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts. More information is on the Young Lungs website: https://younglungs.ca.

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