My current work investigates reflexivity between popular culture and gay male effeminacy, exploring gender norms and sexuality within dance and everyday performance. Artistically, this is refracted through the lens of my own identity, which spurns the limitations of social norms, lending my choreography idiosyncratic structures parading popular cultural references from history and the present.
The term “queer”often presents itself as a word meaning anything outside the heteronormative spectrum. Queer, for me, represents a diverse range of interruptions to the norm, igniting generative controversy in both homo-social and hetero-social environments. Leaving this term undefined makes it a breeding ground for creativity and growth. As a white gay cis-gender male, I try to learn more about queer culture and how my art and the human experience fit into/connect with relevant experiences that are shared by diverse communities. My choreography and research are energized by queer themes and personal experiences, using them to play on popular sentiments of cultures, societies,and hierarchies, constructing and disassembling a through-line for connectivity between communities. Using theatrical text and extensive research and exploration, I shift through different mediums and projects that lend my malleability to each project.
Training in various styles of dance has helped me to generate material that is truly unique to my aesthetic and queer lens. My relationship to an assortment of techniques gives way for my body, as well as my dancers, to delve into an extensive range of material. A love for rhythms, driving music, and spectacle has led meto teach and choreograph in the styles of Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Contemporary. Beginning from a place of exploration I let both narratives and more abstract themes emerge and shape ongoing discoveries towards performance. My use of props, a scenic set and a varied collection of popular music are manipulated and smashed together, giving the audience tools for placing bodies into context and then pushing them out of it. I am interested in how recognizable cultural objects can allow us to tap into audiences’ kinesthetic empathy and nostalgia to direct them towards emotional reactions. My work swims in excess, it needs to lead to a variety of spectacles that celebrate the body in all discernible and indiscernible forms.
My work aims to share suppressed subculture and reaction to the world around me to create an unrepeatable moment in time, giving light to things that are unknown in the here and now/the present, that people will remember eternally.
As a dance educator and choreographer, I use my broad research and rich experiences to inform my teaching. Because I instruct technique classes in hip hop, jazz, choreography/composition, improvisation, and modern, I constantly draw upon my personal training in commercial dance, musical theater, and university dance. I couple this with my work in queer theory and mix in my experience as a technical director. This amalgam of knowledge helps me establish a classroom environment that serves as a positive creating space for all races, genders, and sexualities.
My primary objective as a teacher and choreographer is to help students to facilitate their true self-expression and engage in creative explorations through movement and dance. At the start of every class I guide students through improvisational prompts focused around one of six areas that help dancers become authentic in their practice: creativity, awareness, play, risk, failure, and newness. By creating an atmosphere of exploration at the beginning of class, students are free to move how they wish with limited structure before a set of technique based routines supersede. Unregulated movement allows students to center their minds, arrive in the space, and meet themselves with how their body may feel that day.
Throughout history, dance has brought people together, and I strive for that to be true for my classes as well. I believe class is a time for productive failure. It’s also a time for exploration and experimenting with one’s own body, so I devise situations in and out of the classroom where students learn or gain access to artistry. Students are regularly asked to watch their classmates perform combinations and comment on what they saw in their classmates’ performance. Observing diverse movements, timings, and dynamics of an individual’s style can be just as effective as replicating it with one’s own body. I ask them to elaborate on what they are drawn to and to note what they want to add to their own movement and why. My students are challenged to connect with each other not just in movement, but through verbal communication as well.
Beyond learning the skills and techniques it takes to be a proficient dancer, all my students eventually understand it takes more than displaying the body as choreography to be successful. I lead them to this realization by sharing my own research in and out of the studio and encouraging them to do the same. By asking students difficult questions about social norms and recognizing their constructed nature in class, I start to unveil traditional classroom norms in order to lead students to new information and potential various world views (not only in dance). I continually revise my lesson plans and exercises to relate to current events and new research to ensure diverse outlooks. I rarely present material exactly the same way to ensure challenging new lessons and techniques. I am dedicated to enriching students’ intellectual being and technical abilities; I push them to link theory, movement, and emotion to technique; and I invest in my students’ personal growth as dancers and the next generation of the field.