Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

DANCE Revolutionary steps, dancers point past the binary
by Lauren Warnecke
2018-07-25

This article shared 3030 times since Wed Jul 25, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Chicago is not lacking queer spaces in the arts, and that includes dance and performance art.

Now in its ninth season, the Fly Honey Show remains a highly anticipated staple on the annual dance calendar. A one-night-only endeavor when it launched in 2009, the inclusive burlesque cabaret now runs five weekends starting Thursday, Aug. 9, at Wicker Park's Den Theatre. In its 27th season, Dance for Life ( coming up Aug. 18 at the Auditorium Theatre ) has been a force for good since its founding at the height of the AIDS crisis.

Other productions have left their mark: Joseph Varisco began his series QUEER, ILL + OKAY In 2012. The ever-popular Salonathon had a healthy six-year run before folding in February. Like the ( now defunct ) Poonie's Cabaret, they all created a welcoming performance platform for queer and gender non-conforming artists.

But many would say that Chicago's dance community is actually a collection of communities, with a divide between the underground and the concert dance world. Inclusivity and visibility for LGBTQ performers in the larger, more profitable concert dance space lags far behind other art forms.

Stuck in the gender binary of princes and princesses, concert dance offers few examples outside the cisgendered, heteronormative roles inundating the field since the 1800s.

The struggle to be seen

San Francisco-based choreographer Sean Dorsey was the first openly transgender dance artist to receive national attention, and is a leading advocate for trans equality in dance. Dorsey's newest work—"Boys in Trouble," which saw its East Coast premiere July 12 at the Bates Dance Festival—brings queer and trans narratives about masculinity to the stage.

"Every choice I make, every work I create or perform and every conversation I have in the dance field occurs in the context of me being surrounded, judged and defined by cisgender people," said Dorsey ( who uses he/him/his pronouns ). "All the people with power in the dance field are cisgender. That's a problem!

"Some of the challenges I face on a daily basis include the struggle to have my work seen and enjoyed without having to explain my identity first; not being able to safely or legally use a bathroom while ( constantly ) touring across the country; and never having had a transgender contemporary dance elder or mentor I could lean on," he said.

Casting ambiguity: Presentation or extension?

Local trans and gender non-conforming dancers cite similar challenges. Kaitlyn Dessoffy ( they/them/their ) dances for J. Lindsay Brown Dance and Lucid Banter Project. Their partner, Mags Bouffard, has also danced with Lucid Banter Project and was previously in Zephyr Dance. Dessoffy will audition for anything and everything, but says, "It's really hard to know if the reason I'm not getting cast is because my extension is 90-degrees on the best day of my life, or because I'm really hairy and also look like a girl."

A home in the hive

Andy Slavin ( they/them/their ) grew up in a small town in California, moving to Chicago to attend Columbia College. They currently dance with Kristina Isabelle, Emma Draves and as part of the Fly Honey Show's masculine "hive."

Entering college, Slavin identified as a woman. "I didn't even know that gender non-conforming people were a thing," they said.

"I don't think my transition's over," said Slavin. "Every day I learn something new about myself, [but] I feel the most at home and comfortable with myself as I ever have."

Slavin, like Bouffard, is discerning about which projects they work on. "I don't want to be in spaces that don't want me as a performer. I feel like it's important to have agency and a sense of safety in your workplace," they said.

Crisis in plain sight

Columbia College has been a leader in embracing diversity in dance, providing a welcoming place for gender non-conforming artists. The Bates Dance Festival is another example, now led by Shoshona Currier, former director of performing arts for Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

But diversity in dance remains an uphill battle. For Darling Squire, more success has come as a solo artist than by pursuing a position within a company. Squire said this was a career decision dictated by both choice and necessity.

Dorsey doesn't mince words in describing the struggle. "I want my field to start using the word 'crisis' when it comes to the continued exclusion of gender-nonconforming people in dance," he said.

"Modern dance is currently vehemently anti-transgender. Heterosexual-only partnering and duets, binary-gendered roles and costumes, a lack of safe spaces to change or pee in studios and theaters, a lack of trans dance teachers ... These things won't change without trans and non-binary people in leadership roles," he said.

At the Joffrey, "signs of progress—ever so lightly"

There are signs of progress. The national conversation around trans equity is permeating the dance world, with works like "Boys in Trouble" and Cynthia Oliver's "Virago-Man Dem." There is increased visibility surrounding the challenges faced by gender non-conforming artists in the media. There are a number of recent examples of costumes breaking the gender mold too — Luis Vazquez's "Sea of Comets" for Joffrey Academy's "Winning Works" and Peter Chu's "Divided Against" for Giordano Dance Chicago come to mind.

Even the Joffrey proper ( the Joffrey Academy is the official school of the professional company, the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago ) is finding a way forward, sprinkling its seasons with contemporary works which press on the boundaries of convention, if ever-so-lightly. Last season's "Midsummer Night's Dream," which included queer romance scenes, contributed to the highest grossing season in company history. Brock Clawson's ( he/him/his ) 2012 "Crossing Ashland," originally set on the Milwaukee Ballet, gained less notice, but is notable for Clawson's gender-blind casting of the piece's central pas de deux.

The importance of transformation

Are these isolated incidents in a centuries-long erasure of any narrative that bucks cisgender, heterosexual norms? Hopefully, they aren't.

"Until the field prioritizes, supports and invests in trans and non-binary dance teachers, dance programmers, funding staff, writers and critics, dancers and choreographers, we will never achieve trans equity," Dorsey said. "We have to transform dance studios, theaters and schools—creating safe bathrooms and changing rooms, investing in trans leadership and especially leadership by trans people of color and trans women."

Dorsey envisions a future where trans dancers are included and applauded.

"I dream of our full liberation and us being celebrated and held up as incredible, wise, beautiful, powerful [and] insightful."

For information on the Fly Honey Show, go to TheFlyHoneyShow.com . For information about Dance for Life, visit www.auditoriumtheatre.org/shows/danceforlife2018/ .


This article shared 3030 times since Wed Jul 25, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

CIFF, featuring LGBTQ+ films, running through Oct. 24
2021-10-15
North America's longest-running competitive film festival, this year's event expands throughout Chicago with presentations at venues across the city, including at AMC River East 21; the Music Box Theatre; the Gene Siskel Film Center; special drive ...


Gay News

MUSICALS 'Pretty Woman' tickets go on sale Oct. 15
2021-10-15
After a pre-Broadway run in Chicago and being on Broadway, Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on one of Hollywood's most beloved romantic stories of all time, returns to Chicago. The production will run at the CIBC ...


Gay News

'Tapping into Ca$h' : CaSera Heining lives double life as DJ Ca$h Era and radio producer
2021-10-14
Minutes before DJ Ca$h Era hosted Lollapalooza's first drag show, the Black queer woman behind the stage name was pacing nervously behind the scenes and listening to a drag queen animatedly remind her they were "making ...


Gay News

MUSIC Janis Ian's last Chicago concert May 14
2021-10-13
In what is being advertised as her last concert in Chicago, LGBTQ singer Janis Ian will be performing at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets ($48-$50) will ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' running through Nov. 6
2021-10-12
Black Button Eyes Productions is welcoming back live audiences with the popular internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog—an authorized fan production to benefit the Chicago charity Season of Concern—playing through ...


Gay News

Lyric Opera running seven performances of 'The Magic Flute' Nov. 3-27
2021-10-11
Lyric Opera of Chicago is running seven performances of The Magic Flute, Mozart's final opera, on Nov. 3-27. There will be performances at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3; matinees on Nov. 7, 11, 14 and 17, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Drag Race' winners, Playboy, punk band, The Dinah, Daniel Craig
2021-10-10
Video below - As part of VH1's #LGBTQHerstoryMonth project, five winners from the RuPaul's Drag Race winner's circle—season one's BeBe Zahara Benet, All Stars 4 winner Monet X Change, season 11 winner Yvie Oddly, season 12 victor Jaida Essence ...


Gay News

Madonna's latest concert film, Madame X, now out
2021-10-09
The concept film to Madonna's acclaimed Madame X Tour has debuted in the United States Latin America, Australia, the Nordics and Canada exclusively on Paramount+, the streaming service from ViacomCBS. Fans outside these markets can watch ...


Gay News

Book about musician Tori Amos' works coming out
2021-10-07
The book Tori Amos: every album, every song—by rock journalist Lisa Torem—will be out in the United States on Friday, Oct. 29, courtesy of Sonic Bond Publishing. In 1992, Amos—an acclaimed singer, pianist and composer—achieved fame ...


Gay News

MUSIC Rachael Sage at Uncommon Ground on Oct. 14
2021-10-06
Rachael Sage—described as an "award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and member/supporter of the LGBTQ+ community"—will perform at Uncommon Ground-Lake View, 3800 N. Clark St., on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. ...


Gay News

Visceral Dance Chicago bringing world premieres to Athenaeum Theatre
2021-10-06
--From a press release - CHICAGO, Oct. 5, 2021 — Visceral Dance Chicago—a contemporary company committed to the progression of diverse artists, programs and community collaborations—announced its Fall Engagement 2021 program. The dance company returns ...


Gay News

Opera singer Ketelson to give Center on Halsted performance
2021-10-05
World renowned bass-baritone opera singer Kyle Ketelsen will perform Italian arias at the Center on Halsted to raise funds both to support his alma mater, Clinton (Iowa) High School (Vocal Department) and Care for Real Pantry ...


Gay News

Pride Fest sees rainbows over rain
2021-10-05
After last year's COVID-related cancellation, the LGBTQ+-focused outdoor affair Pride Fest returned to Lake View after a delay of a few months, as it usually takes place in June. An additional full day was added to ...


Gay News

LGBTQ History Month: Until legal ruling, Disneyland banned same-sex dancers
2021-10-01
Deemed the "Happiest Place on Earth," Disneyland sadly didn't live up to that billing for same-sex couples during its first three decades. Opened in 1955 by the late Walt Disney, the family-oriented amusement park was built ...


Gay News

Joffrey's Nutcracker returns for the holidays
2021-09-27
--From a press release - (Chicago) — The Joffrey Ballet's reimagined holiday classic, The Nutcracker, by Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, returns to Chicago during the Joffrey's first-ever season at the historic Lyric Opera House ...


 



Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.