Guy Anabella and Manny Dingo gathered with workshop participants for a group photo at the front of the classroom

In photos: Interaction Design students delve into the art of drag

Newsroom authorby Marianne Sy-LuceroMay 21, 2024
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While its mainstream reputation may have you thinking otherwise, drag goes far beyond the showstopping performances and extravagant makeovers you might see on shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“Drag is about self-expression in a way that subverts how society dictates how certain genders should act,” explains Guy Anabella, Sheridan creativity and communications professor. “It is a bold and creative artform that empowers individuals to challenge stereotypes and norms. Drag is a platform that amplifies voices for equality, diversity and acceptance by creating a safe space for all to be seen and celebrated.”

Alongside Manny Dingo, a Toronto-based drag king, Anabella led a Build Your Own Drag Character Workshop at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Road Campus in April as part of the Honours Bachelor of Interaction Design program’s year-end showcase, IXD YES.

The art of drag involves creativity and artistic skill, and Sheridan’s Interaction Design students are equipped with design abilities that provide them with a unique perspective when it comes to developing a drag character.

“Workshops like this can help students broaden their perspectives and see how their skills can be applied to diverse industries, allowing them to gain valuable experience in a different design setting,” says Anabella.

During the workshop, Anabella and Dingo shared a brief history of drag, debunked myths about the artform and led participants through creative problem-solving exercises to help them begin developing their persona.

“While some students were unfamiliar with drag, I was in awe of the results of the drag personas they produced,” shares Anabella. “It was amazing to see how participants drew from their unique skills, talents and cultures to create elevated, expressive versions of themselves.”

See below for key moments from the workshop:

Manny Dingo (left) and Guy Anabella (right) introducing their drag personas to participants at the Build Your Own Drag Character Workshop
Anabella and Dingo shared background on their drag characters, noting how their names and appearances are inspired by their personal backgrounds — reinforcing that drag is about gender expression and celebrating and elevating who you are as a person.

Guy Anabella leading workshop participants through a creative brainstorm exercise
Anabella led participants in a synesthesia exercise — a creative brainstorming tool that helps individuals ideate the characteristics of a concept based on the five senses (i.e. sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). They encouraged individuals to think about their drag characters from an abstract perspective.

Workshop participant completing a creative brainstorm exercise to develop their drag character persona
A participant outlines their drag character persona based on the five senses, noting that their persona would look like sparkles, unicorns and rainbow, sound like Beyoncé, taste like a fruity cocktail and smell like candy.

Manny Dingo performing "No Stress" by Laurent Wolf
Dingo demonstrated his acrobatic skills during an energetic performance of “No Stress” by Laurent Wolf. Dingo impressed the audience by breaking out into forward splits and a head stand during his performance.

Guy Anabella and Manny Dingo gathered with workshop participants for a group photo at the front of the classroom
To wrap up the event, students, faculty and staff in attendance joined Anabella and Dingo for a photo.

“Drag is like a superhero version of yourself with incredible abilities,” said Anabella. “I hope folks were able to see that they can access their drag persona at any time to embrace and amplify their unique strengths, creativity and confidence.”

Learn more about the Honours Bachelor of Interaction Design program.

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