Blog Roll - What is queer performance within modern dance culture?
This blog is a source for us and others to use as they wish in an ongoing search for understanding and development of how culture and the arts combine. Neither of us are scholars in this field but have worked in London and throughout the UK as dancers and choreographers in many different shows and community projects that celebrate and highlight queer culture (most recently we worked in Hull celebrating 50 years since the decriminalisation of gay sex).
Our work often looks into the past at more traditional forms of queer performance such as drag and cabaret but we wish to also keep striving forward and be in communication with academics, organisations, venues and audiences as we believe dance and movement is an art form which inherently challenges established perceptions of who we are.
Queer culture and queer dance has become absorbed if not used by the mainstream, corporations and advertising; as queer artists ourselves, part of this blog is about claiming what is queer through pride and a desire to understand ourselves and the relevance of our work better.
The definition of queer in the dictionary is "denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially norms."
With only a little research into the academic side of of dance/queer studies, it is apparent that there is very little. One of the main books to come out last year was Clare Croft's 'Queer Dance'. I have just ordered a copy and look forward to reading it!
Here are a couple of interviews of Clare and other contributors to 'Queer Dance'
The study of queer dance being describes as urgent.
Queer clubbing in 50s/60s
A queer poem by Daniel Hay-Gordon:
Melting my sugars to liquid. All midnight flowers are rare.
Angered bells banged in shade.
Lift me, lift my faint high.
Cropped quickly though your touches maybe cold.
Foil shreds. Oiled freckles.
Man moon pale.
I can tell you I have had visions.
Varied. Cut from the same cloth.
Compelled iron hard.
White weight. Wait in off-white.
I claim nothing. I net almost nothing.
Desire is simple. Desire is an ease.
Desire is to leave nowhere. On top.
Long silken necks.
Bountiful. But bloodless blessing.
Fit me. Fit in beside me.
Lunar nectar bred across the bed.
Frederic Franklin in Léonide Massine's Rouge et Noir, 1940
Out Of This World, follows American rapper, performance artist and activist Mykki Blanco on a journey to South Africa's biggest city, Johannesburg to explore queer culture at a time when LGBT voices are continually being silenced
Lesbian Drag Kings of 30s & 40s America. Vice article.
Tom Marshman's offering into the mix; Pina Bausch's 'The Man I Love'.
The Fall & Michael Clark. RIP Mark E Smith
Brilliant article - an interview of Amy Bell about her practice and the innovative and subversive power of queering dance
The incredible Oona Doherty
"Tina's legacy". Interview by Grayson Perry
My tongue has broken, a light fire runs beneath my skin, my eyes see nothing, my ears ring, sweat pours from me, I tremble all over, I am paler than grass"
The Poet Michelle Dee some of her work with us. We first came to know and work with Michelle during a dance project with the community directed by Gary Clark called 'Into the Light' as part of Hull City of Culture in 2017
The door clicked behind me.
I'd finally ditched the jeans.
I was going to do this if it killed me.
No big deal she said, it's only a dress.
You cheated anyway,
choosing leggings over bare legs.
Believe in yourself, believe, believe. Believe.
Don the shades if they can't see my eyes I'll be fine.
Turn the corner. Main street. Nobody is staring
and if they are try not to care, ten
minutes more and I'm there.
Board an outward bound train,
escape this provincial air.
He picked me up,
picked me out,
from all of the boys.
He took me home
took me to bed
he was a columnist.
Rewriting my life
with a few words,
‘You are a girl,’ he said
pulling me in for a kiss.
‘You are not gay,
you are just a girl,’ he said
transforming the world.
A green screen delight:
Cut and Shut
By Michelle Dee
At the beginning of the #MeToo movement lots of women shared the hashtag, it became clear that almost every woman had experienced a me too moment, some on an almost daily basis. Newsfeeds full of women calling to women to say Times up enough is enough. There was a backlash then a backlash against that, a Terf war which made me reluctant to stand up, to join the fight, to have my voice heard. I read the blogposts ‘ I’ve been grabbed and mauled and groped and hauled down the street’ My experience doesn’t fit neatly into a tweet, it doesn’t really fit into 1 poem
Two poems ‘Standard’ and ‘2am Marlborough Ave’ smashed together.
No, I don’t go to that Propaganda
I’m outside crouched low watching in wait.
Would I run and hide if he came outside
if his face stared through the glass?
I’m sure they are the life and soul
but ‘some of your best friends’
has sod all to do with me.
Would I return his stare, eyes held fast.
Screw up my face and unleash all that rage.
No I’m not really brave.
That top window’s open, curtains drawn once again.
What poor creature lies shaking within?
It’s not like I had a choice.
Back then, it was I screaming behind glass
Now I am immune, time for screaming has passed.
D’ya know it is exhausting being your fuckin’ hero?
How can it stand there side by side with another
White window frames peeling just like the others?
Yes my breasts are real. No you cannot touch.
Look upon this place with fresh eyes and know
the horror inside is never on show.
It’s none of your business what’s between my legs.
No you cannot see. No you cannot touch.
For this house holds a secret of vengeful lust
when bodies and dreams were buried in dust.
Michelle IS my real name
The investigation was a farce, women in refuge
are seen as double trouble and easy by the police
It is none of your business whether I’ve had sex.
Why do I want to peer inside, try the handle to the door
when before I made good my escape?
Neither is who I sleep with.
Was I drinking?
Was I drinking?
I would come out with you if it were not for the bouncers
climbing over the cubicle keen to see if I piss standing up.
Why did I get in the car?
Why did I get in the car… Why did I get in the car…
I’ve been torturing myself with the same question ever since.
My identity won’t fit on a tee….
your world of dayglo and disco is simply not me.
I’m not a box for you to tick, criteria to hit or PR metric
I refuse to be your token trans. I’m me just me Michelle
writer, poet, critic, friend, artist, performer, daughter,
skint, hungry, drunk, funny, scared, loving,
still living, defying the suicide odds, Dee.
Good article: Notes on Camp/Anti Camp a manifesto :