I spent time with queer choreographer Kristopher Pourzal deepening my movement practice and exploring routes into choreography. Over the past two years I have started to use movement to support my practice as a live artist and as such have wanted to connect with artists who use movement as a way to create work. Our time together was brief, but it gave me lots to think about.
My performance work aims to make space for bodies who are marginalized due to class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or different physical/mental abilities. Having recently incorporated movement/choreography into my practice, this activity was about deepening my knowledge and experience around Vogue; a movement language of empowerment and resistance within queer black communities.
The repercussions of this experience would be felt within my work over the course of the next year, as I continue to develop movement within my practice and create and present my performance works NIGHTCLUBBING and OUT across the UK and internationally.
I cannot express the benefits of sharing practice and space with artists whose main discipline is different from my own. Taking myself out of the context of the UK to consolidate my own methodologies was needed to further enhance my practice. Conversations with other queer black artist are needed too so that we might heal together.
I am set on continuing to build on my own choreographic practice, take pride in a body that isn’t that of a trained dancer but will however continue to use social dance as a way to occupy spaces historically not for the ‘othered’, to ride the beat of its own drum and radically resist.
She stands inside the hoop. Breathing heavily. We see her silhouette. There is a small pot that sits beside the hoop, light shines out of it. She reaches into it and pulls out coconut oil which she smears across her legs and arms. A warm light illuminates her actions. A soft guitar riff is playing.
As she oils her skin and begins to calm. Her breath returns to normal.
While excavating for movement, we cannot underestimate the history that lies inside muscles and bones. The heavy breath drawing down our diaphragm, that constant pressure to assimilate leaving thick February fog shape hopelessness in the gravity of ribs.
On a day when Kristopher and I do not work together, a deep anxiety takes hold. It seems we have mined too deep, or perhaps it’s the lack of endorphins released as there has been no physical movement. The anxiety on this day is so overwhelming that I can’t leave the room that I’m staying in and I barely eat. I have a sense of guilt about being in New York and being unwell, about failing to attend the vogue ball that evening. I am trapped inside my head with a fear that something bad is going to happen.
I wake up the next morning feeling somewhat better. I remember how important good health is. I remember what it takes for me to perform works that delve into painful histories. I remember that this body and so many like it, are a sight of silent trauma rained upon us from patriarchy and white supremacy and that these bodies should be handled with care.
The hoop drops again, she defiantly picks it up and spins the hoop around her body, hooping faster and faster, the drone builds in both speed and volume to match her movements. When she is ready she stops the hoop and throws it to the floor.
What I’ve grown to love about vogue femme is how it is unashamedly bold, fierce, sensual, unapologetic. It allows me to access my femininity in a way that feels less cumbersome. It’s a femininity for me and not for the gaze of others. It’s a femininity that allows a cultural expression, allows me to be seen, allows me to take up space. A boldness that I usually wouldn’t let myself inhabit. I wanted to harness the power of this movement to create a language in my show that is unapologetic, slow and considered, poised, cutting through the space and time, taking up as much of it as possible.
I worked with Kristopher to refine movement to explore my feminine energy, to put movement together in a way that could tell my story. Something that spoke of history, of trauma, of transformation.
A slow guitar riff begins… She moves through the space, her hands feel, brush over thick cables that cling to the contours of her body, she raises her hands as if she is trying to draw strength from another power beyond herself. She draws the energy back into her body…she is transformed.