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About This Dancerie

 

This Dancerie

This Dancerie* explores Paris as the site of a queer century lived in public in a multi-event, multi-site, multi-media project 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.

 

This Dancerie explores Paris as the site of a queer century lived in public in a multi-event, multi-site, multi-media project 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 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 the French populus;
  • 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 the personal responses of the project Artistic Director, Tony Whitfield rooted in understandings of the narrative underlying each work in the cycle to their relationships 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 that remained in place until the 1980s. 

This Dancerie will highlight a series of sites and events across Paris of historical importance for gay men as members of a broader social context. 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 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 and technicians 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 execute ten works that will constitute This Dancerie in locations across Paris 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 the 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 various collaborative activities that are integral to each project’s realization.

To date, support for This Dancerie has been provided by The Jerome Foundation, The New School University, and contributions of private donors through crowdfunding campaigns. Administrative support in France is provided by Association Errances and fiscal sponsorship in the US is provided by Fractured Atlas.

 

  • 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