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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Queerly Contemporary Festival 2018
Produced and Curated by John Zullo (Raw/Movement)
June 9, 2018
Queerly Contemporary Festival
June 9, 2018
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street, Studio 4
Produced and Curated by John J. Zullo (Zullo/Raw Movement)
Queerly Contemporary Festival gets a rave review! How fortunate the audience was to catch this one night only program Saturday evening, June 9 at City Center Studio 4 that was curated and produced by John J. Zullo (Zullo/Raw Movement)!!
Of course, an evening of dance is a fabulous way to kick off Pride Month, but the Queerly Contemporary Festival would be fabulous any month of the year. The quality of the production, the dance and the choreography was excellent, but it was the diversity and originality of the artistry that made the event truly special.
There was an emotional balance to the range of themes and to the program order that made the evening of works by so many artists, digestible and relevant. The program was unusually well organized and offered various types of counterpoint. Here are impressions of a few:
“Gently and Reassuringingly Solidified,” choreographed and performed by Mat Elder with Elliott Keller, was an exquisite duet illuminating nuances of a developing connection between two men as their tenderness and strength was explored through a rich repertory of movement. Fresh and unsentimental, Elder’s choreography was a testament to the primacy of the body as the purest form of storytelling.
“Too Cool for School,” choreographed by Gina T’ai and performed by Zoë Koenig and Sarah Ellen Miller presented a contrasting relationship duet that was powerful, and often hilarious and poignant. With Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” throbbing in the background, the dancers did a flawless job plumbing the depths of yearning, detachment, connection and frustration.
“Yo Obsolete,” created by Christopher Núñez and performed by him and Mario Galeano is autobiographical. Dressed in red long johns resembling children’s PJs, the dancers successfully embody movement and visual imagery that touches on “gender identity, male stereotypical behavior, gendered toys, fetishism, pop culture, and queer art.” The dance is a visual and kinsesthetic collage uniquely integrating movement with a well-developed use of props. This duet in red PJs included flashes of voguing and runway dancing underneath an elegant headpiece that was a large Barbie Doll truck. The dancers’ unselfconscious abandonment simultaneously reminded us of the precious and formative secrets of childhood identity formation, while also serving as an ultimate homage to the present.
Joe Monteleone’s solo performance “In Nomine Pan,” artfully created and performed by him, is a contemplation of the universe that evokes in viewers a sense of being transported through time and space. Monteleone’s masterful use of technology allowed him to incorporate the highest quality sound and imagery, further amplifying his exceptional dance and choreographic skills. The spiritual and artistic achievements of “In Nomine Pan,” were heightened because the changing environment inhabited by the Pan character captured his eloquently performed solo seamlessly like Peter Pan capturing his shadow with the mystery and magic of childhood and its tolerance for embracing the unfathomable.
In “Cheap Bombs: LIM—,” created and performed by Lianna King, the theme of personal struggle linked to identity, expectations and intimacy came alive with the purity of youth and risk taking in King’s sensuous, sometimes humorous and always daring solo to Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera.” At first, the classic hit seemed like a fun nod to the past. However, the song shed its history as King’s movement brought her more and more deeply into its plaintive lyric and she seemed to become possessed by the increasingly eerie inquiry “what will I be... “ This was another gem of a solo that made a giant arc between the past and present while making the future, at least for dance, seem bright and possible.
In “A Letter to Pedro,” choreographed and performed by Zachary L. Denison, viewers at once subjected to and blessed by a raw yet heart wrenchingly contained tribute to survival as Dennison touched on themes of “isolation, shame and survivors’ guilt experienced in the aftermath of a plague that devastated the dance community.” To music: The Cordettes; “Names” Taken from articles on “The generation lost to AIDS” written by Joseph Carmen, August 2007; Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, “A Letter to Pedro is an autobiographical dance about what it is like to be a dancer living with HIV after witnessing the loss of so many” and in it, Denison treads a rare high wire feat of balancing history with the present moment without sacrificing one to the other. The sound of the Names accompanying Denison’s beautiful dancing presence created an unforgettable statement of survival.
By Cathy Appel
Author: Cathy Appel
Photo Credit: Performer: Christopher Unpezverde Nu?n?ez / Photographer: Jonathon Lewis