Dance image representing Unniyarcha on #wordymonday

Andrea Queens in I Choose, part of Moving Words at Chisenhale Dance Space.  (c) Carole Edrich 2014

Andrea Queens in I Choose, part of Moving Words at Chisenhale Dance Space. (c) Carole Edrich 2014

This week I chose the name Unniyarcha for my #wordymonday word because I couldn’t find another that said what I wanted. That’s because I wanted to use it to discuss Andrea Queens‘ choreography I Choose which I saw last month as part of the curated evening Moving Words.

We are all faced with the choice of whether to live up to our names or allow ourselves to fade into ignominy (whether this results in public approbation or private shame is material for another post). Awareness of that choice is surely heightened when your surname is Queens. The program notes say that the piece demonstrates ‘the passion that often ignites when we who expect choice are refused it and faced with expectation’. That’s one way to say it, and what I saw was a poetic declamation of the acceptance of the responsibilities the name Queens entails (and that we all have as individuals) along with a demonstration of the self awareness that responsible life choices requires.

It took a long while to find a word representing female strength, I discovered to my horror that there wasn’t a word I’d be comfortable using in this context. Most such words are derogatory, belittle the recipient or imply a crossing of gender that is inappropriate in this case. The English language is rich and subtle and I’ve never before found myself unable to say exactly what I wanted. I had to turn to 16th century Keralan folklore to find anything approaching it which is a sad state of affairs for our culture. How can we support and encourage equitable behaviour when the words we need do not exist?