Quare Dance: Fashioning a Black, Queer, Fem(me)inist Aesthetic in Ballet
What can an intersectional lens that considers race, gender, and sexuality offer ballet in the 21st century? Historically, Black and Queer stories have been relegated to the margins of ballet history in service of Eurocentric, heteronormative ideals. This creative and written project investigates the ways Black Queer Ballerinas disrupt dominant discourses on dance and identity by moving against, through, and around oppressive structures. The purpose of this exploration is two-fold: 1) to examine the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and ballet, with a particular focus on the stories of Black Queer Women and Femmes, and 2) to collaborate with the aforementioned artists on a performance installation that explores the embodiment of a Black Queer Fem(me)inist aesthetic through movement and material artifacts.Grounded in the present moment and framed by a close reading of Black and Queer presence in the archive, Quare Dance documents how Kiara Felder, Audrey Malek, Cortney Taylor Key, and Alyah Baker imagine and enact new possibilities for ballet’s future—possibilities that have both aesthetic and pedagogical implications. Employing an interdisciplinary lens and mixed methods approach that centers dance and material culture, this project situates these performances of Black Queer Fem(me)inity in relationship to Black feminist studies, Queer theory, dance studies, and performance theory. I argue that Black Queer Ballerinas trouble dominant discourses embodying an important, yet previously overlooked counter-narrative for what ballet and the ballerina is and can be.
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