This week at the Yukon Arts Centre, evalyn parry will present Spin, a show about bicycles for people who live outside of the box.
It’s a hybrid show that incorporates elements of song, music, spoken word, theatrical storytelling and visual multimedia.
parry will be accompanied by a percussionist playing a vintage bicycle, the sounds amplified through contact microphones.
The show traces the rise of the bicycle through the late 19th century, and how that cultural moment tied into the suffragette movement, changes in female fashion and women’s emancipation in general.
But it is also a contemporary story about consumption and mass production.
One of the central stories is that of Annie Londonderry, who in 1895 became the first woman to cycle around the world.
The journey was “quite an adventure story, and a very interesting, complex story as well,” said parry.
Londonderry was the master of another sort of spin as well, said parry.
The cyclist financed the trip around the world by selling advertising space on her bike and clothes, she said.
It was one of the first example of women and sports endorsement, said parry.
parry connects to Londonderry’s story as an avid cyclist and an advocate for cycling as urban transportation, she said.
But she also connects to it as an artist, said parry.
“She’s also pedalling a similar path that any independent artist is today. That was my way in, connecting this complicated relationship that you have with self-promotion and having to use your ingenuity to figure out how to connect with media and make a story about what it is that you’re doing.
“She was a master of that. So not only did she pull off this incredible physical feat, but she was able to really spin a great story to the media and engineer fame for herself.”
parry didn’t set out to retell the story of one woman’s journey around the world on a bicycle.
Initially, the show was intended to be about parry’s own relationship to cycling.
But as she got deeper into the research, the connection between the rise of the bicycle and early feminist movements drew her in.
And there was another theme that emerged, said parry.
“The third thing in my mind was this idea of spin and how things get bought and sold and spun to us, especially as women.”
All three are exemplified by the story of Londonderry’s adventure.
“I couldn’t believe that all my themes got combined into one story from 120 years ago. It was like a gold mine, discovering her story.”
But Londonderry’s story is only one of the threads that will be used to help parry spin her own story of the bicycle’s place in our world.
She describes the different pieces of the performance as “spokes that add to something greater than the sum of their parts.”
parry is no stranger to the Yukon. She has been up several times for different creative projects over the years.
What keeps her coming back is meeting the interesting, creative people who live here, she said.
“I feel in the North that I connect a lot to other people who, for one reason or another, live outside the box in some way, and are interested in alternatives. I think something about the weather and being in a place of extremes must attract singular kind of people.”
And that, really, is what Spin is all about.
“I think that the themes actually transcend the bicycle. There’s human themes about freedom and about autonomy and following your passion and living outside of the expectations of society.”
parry will perform Spin Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are available at
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at