Meg Foley started dancing when she was a young girl growing up in the Washington, D.C. area.
In her teens, club dancing inspired an interest in choreography, and she has made it her career, earning a bachelor of arts degree at Scripps College in Claremont, California, working as an adjunct professor and completing residencies across the world.
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“I’ve been making dances for a long time, and I’ve always been interested in how movement intersects with our identities or how our identities are embodied through our own daily choreography,” she said.
But when she became pregnant with Cadence, now 7, she said she was “provoked in the shift of [her] bodily reality, in terms of the rhythm of engaging with another person who has their own particular rhythm.” She went on to create “Blood Baby,” an artistic project that delves into queer parenthood, gender, queer sexuality and gestation; it will be a part of Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s fall 2023 season and is being produced through a NEFA National Dance Project Production Grant, a National Performance Network Creation Fund Award, Leeway Foundation, and an Indiana University Arts & Humanities grant.
There are four expressive outputs to “Blood Baby”: “Carpet Womb” is a dance among viewers in a small room covered entirely in carpet; “Communion” is a text-driven performance between the audience and the performers created by playwright Sylvan Oswald; “Primordial” is an alternative drag performance; and “Touch Library” is a tactile browsing library where people can interact at their own pace with soft objects that have been a part of the creative process.
“Each one is very different in terms of how the viewer interacts with it in terms of how they want to participate or be involved,” Foley said.
Foley, who is now based in Philadelphia, will host the Queer Parenting Convening as part of the formative process of “Blood Baby” this Saturday at Kelly Strayhorn’s Alloy Studios.
(Responses are lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)
What made you decide to start the Queer Parenting Convening?
I started “Blood Baby” right before COVID … I had gotten together with a couple other performers, who are also queer parents, all self-identified as moms, and we started by story sharing in the rehearsal. I had a couple key questions, which were: “What does it mean to parent queerly? If this approach feels bodily to me, if it feels like a cultural action or expression of myself, which means that it comes from my person, what is that? And how does that play out when actually a lot of parenting is really mundane?”
So that was one question, “…and then how does your sexuality and sex practice inform your family building?” I was really interested in where sex is in this conversation because of course parenting is also often kind of considered sexless unless we’re talking about procreation.
It ended up being a really rich experience for all of the parents present, in part because I think none of us had quite had an opportunity to have the conversation from that frame before.
What are your goals for the project?
My hope is to really build meaningful relationships and for people to find and build meaningful relationships for themselves. … I feel like my hope and goal is really in this kind of stretching of understanding that happens in the space of the Queer Parent Convenings and really thinking about gathering as a creative act and that people feel honored and they feel celebrated and that they also potentially feel challenged in a way that feels good to them.
And then for “Blood Baby,” the performance aspect, my hope is people walk away with a broader understanding of gender-nonconformity and family building and queerness and family building and realizing that parenting and gestation are not gendered acts — and with a sort of a call to being an accomplice in that necessary conversation, and with an invitation to reflection and pleasure on their own body. … I think this is where my interest in dance and somatics really comes in, where it’s like wanting people to understand that expanding thought is also expanding, essentially, your bodily presence.
What do you think the reversal of Roe v. Wade will mean for other queer parents?
It’s terrible all around.
What worries me is that the dominant conversation is still around women’s rights. … Newscaster and politician voices are not centering trans and gender-nonconforming voices or even bringing them into the conversations in terms of talking about reproductive rights as opposed to women’s rights, so that’s really concerning to me.
I think I’m very nervous about the fallout in terms of access and what will happen in terms of restrictions to access based on class as well as gender and race. And what is already a fraught landscape for most trans and gender-nonconforming people to navigate will only become more so and have geographical barriers as well.
What role do you think art plays when we witness so much strife in the world?
I think art brings awareness for those who are not already aware.
For me, as a kind of white, middle-class person, and I come from a liberal background but still … I do not come from a queer community background at all. I can’t even think of anyone growing up or in my family who is gay, which is a part of my journey. So in that dynamic, I think that art brings awareness and that it brings people into a conversation that maybe they didn’t even know needed to be had, and it educates them about experiences that they didn’t know about.
And then I think for the people, for the queer and trans parents who are coming to the convenings or who just come to the show, for my community, my immediate community or for queer family communities that I’m not in direct contact with but that we get to bring the show to, I hope for joy and celebration and sensuousness and a space that is gender-bending — and so gay. As gay as the day is long.
The Queer Parent Convening will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave.
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