McKay Bram is an interdisciplinary artist based in Rochester, MN. Her work focuses on collaborations with artists across disciplines, including poetry, music, and visual arts with Rochester Art Ensemble and performance art/drag with House of Larva Drag Co-operative. She teaches Pilates Reformer, and sings with the Rochester Symphony.
My work in Movement Fundamentals has always been in conversation with gender, studying what movements are allowed, encouraged, or punished under patriarchy. Because our society dictates what is considered masculine or feminine, individuals are limited to specific types of movement based on sex and gender. “Wrong” movements can lead to threats of immediate danger, but complying can also create problems over time via those limitations, which can lead to holding patterns, discomfort, and pain.
Policing movement based on gender limits our full movement potential. In teaching, I use MF to encourage feminine and masculine movement exploration without enforcing “correctness”. In drag performance, I use MF to illustrate how gender functions as an oppressive power structure.
It is fitting then, that I used MF to guide my experience through finding treatment for endometriosis, a condition that primarily affects women. As such, the standard of care suffers under misogyny. I found that debilitating period pain is not normal. I also embodied another way that gender causes pain: through poor medical care that allows a treatable condition to progress and debilitate women. On average, it takes 10 years from symptom onset to diagnosis, and many women have multiple surgeries for a condition that should only take one. (Because many search results contain outdated information, I recommend visiting nancysnookendo.com to learn.)
How can we hear the body when it’s communicating that something is wrong, and trust that direction/information? And once the threat of injury or disease has passed, how can we communicate with our bodies that we are now safe? My work deals heavily with the nervous system and chronic pain, using movement to help calm down an overly sensitized nervous system. I use Movement Fundamentals to help people cope with loss, transition from trauma to grief, and move through recovery.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Boudewyns Photography