About This Dancerie
This Dancerie explores a queer century lived in public in Paris and New York.
This Dancerie is a multi-event, multi-site, multi-media cycle of projects that explores the ways in which gay men have created public expressions of desire despite prohibitions against the manifestation of those aspects of their lives in two world capitals: Paris and New York.
In a series of projects spanning several years, This Dancerie will seek to:
illuminate transitions in identity that evolve for cisgender males over the course of a century, moving from the modern construct of the homosexual to current articulations of “queerness;”
look at the persistence of public expressions of identity that defy binary gender definition across the century;
reflect the critical social events that have had an impact on “queer” lives ranging from wars to public health crises to liberation struggles to fashion and entertainment;
reflect the intersections of class, race, ethnicity, economics, politics and creed as well as immigration patterns that have created evolving heterogeneity in among the populations of Paris and New York;
reflect changing technologies that have supported notions of self actualization while challenging policies and practices that have defined standards of public decency.
Unifying the works in the Dancerie cycle will be the personal responses of the project’s Artistic Director, Tony Whitfield rooted in understandings of the narrative underlying each work in the cycle as they relate to contemporary socio-political issues. The pretext of This Dancerie is urbanization as a prerequisite for modern homosexual subculture, and the understanding that despite the lack of recognized communities or “gay ghettos,” gay men have lived forbidden aspects of their lives in many cities, in public. This Dancerie focuses on Paris as a crossroad of queer life in which, although, technically, homosexuality was legal since 1791, notions of public decency were legislated and under surveillance and further complicated by the re-criminalization of same-sex relations during the Nazi occupation which remained in place until the 1980s. This Dancerie will seek to underscore the aspects of homosexuality in Paris history with parallel events, policies and phenomena that are and have arisen in American culture, using New York and sites of parallel investigation.
This Dancerie will highlight a series of narratives that uses contexts and events of historical importance for gay men in Paris as points of departure for social investigations with contemporary resonance. For each site, narratives based on actual events will be developed and represented in public works that range from image projections to performing arts-based works/events. Each narrative will seek to elaborate aspects of gay history and the intersection of that history with issues of race, class, creed, ethnicity, ability and gender. The role immigration has played in these stories will also be underscored in This Dancerie.
This Dancerie’s Artistic Director and Executive Producer is Tony Whitfield. Each work in the series that will constitute This Dancerie will be conceived, written, directed and produced by Whitfield in collaboration with teams of artists, performers technicians and storytellers based in Paris and New York. Each work in the Dancerie cycle will have a team specifically assembled to meet its artistic demands.
Over the course of the next five years, Whitfield plans to complete a series of eight to ten works that will constitute This Dancerie in locations where same sex desire has created a shifting landscape of encoded behavior, transgressive beauty and seduction, criminalized activity, class-complicated entanglements, immigrant survival strategies, forbidden trans/interactions. As such, they will also employ elements that will seek to engage viewers and community groups in a variety of ways that illuminate connections to the City’s gay history. In situations that range from motion activated videos to dance parties to social media directed investigations, This Dancerie will ask viewers/participants to question what it means to live a forbidden life in public.
All of This Dancerie’s constituent parts are and have been conceived and developed with the goal of presentations in Paris and New York, as well as other cities with the desire of creating contexts for discussion that have international implications in a framework that encourages analysis and comparison. Toward that end, international creative teams are being engaged for various collaborative activities that are integral to each project’s realization.
To date, the following projects in This Dancerie have been completed and debuted: Paris, 1938 and New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter with support provided by The Jerome Foundation, The New School University, the Mairie of the City of Paris, LaMaMa ETC and its funders, HOWL! Happening; An Arturo Vega Project, Mains d’Oeuvres and Centre National de la Danse in Paris and contributions of private donors through crowdfunding campaigns. Administrative support in France has been provided by Association Errances and fiscal sponsorship in the US is provided by Fractured Atlas.
THIS DANCERIE is a project of Whitfield CoLabs (WCL) creates contexts that present and interpret aspect of urban experience that illuminate social change, particularly in the lives of underrepresented populations. Through collaboration with artists, designers, technicians and organizations that serve WCL's subject populations, works are developed and presented in multiple media to engender greater understanding of the histories that underpin current cultural phenomena. Through the application of transmedia storytelling strategies, audiences for WCL's works range from general urban populations in public spaces to product consumers to participants in social media.
Please note that all projects discussed herein are in development and dependent upon the acquisition of rights for the use of work(s) by artists other than Tony Whitfield.
*at urbandictionary.com the word dancerie (dancery) is defined as ” Any establishment in which music is played and dancing is likely to occur, such as a bar, nightclub, or strip joint.” and a “…word that Mary J. Blige invented,” meaning a “dance club, night club, or ghetto bar.” Used here, it describes a social environment where two or more individuals engage in ritualistic, inventive interaction. see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znlFu_lemsU&list=RDznlFu_lemsU#t=0