Untitled (Balinese dance study)

Choreography and performance by Zavé Martohardjono
Sound remix of Gamelan Gong Kebjar: Hudan mas by Ava Omega Jarden
Dance training and research with Miranti

“Untitled (Balinese dance study)” was developed in residency at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in Spring 2016 and was shown at Panoply Performance Laboratory, Movement Research at the Judson Church, and Fête in 2016.

As research for this piece, I re-learned the essential vocabulary of Balinese dance which I first learned as a little girl during a trip home to Indonesia. This work considers cultural appropriation and hybridity, as well as gender, through an exploration of gesture: both the iconic gesture of Balinese dance and that of queer House and Ball culture. How do all these gestures read on my mixed-race, trans body? What do I become and what does the audience experience when I muddle together Balinese gesture and Black queer gesture?

“Untitled (Balinese dance study)” at Movement Research at the Judson Church 

This piece was inspired by a night at the Latex Ball in NYC. In a competition, a woman came out in a Thai costume and walked the runway to the adoration of the crowd. My heart stopped. She was beautiful, dripping in gold. And as one of the only Southeast Asians in the crowd – as far as I could tell – I also felt tense. Colonialism and orientalism has enabled Southeast Asian iconography and aesthetics to be consumed through the ages, stripped of historical meaning, repackaged and equated with symbolism that has nothing to do with the communities and traditions they come from. And the monolith of white gay culture and pop consumption of queerness has similarly erased Black and brown queer legacies, repackaging Black queer gesture into symbols and signifiers for “gayness.” Pulled out of the communities it comes from, queer gesture, language, and affect is whitewashed and pop-culture ready for global export. Read more in an essay I wrote about this work for Dancer Citizen Issue 4.

“Untitled (Balinese dance study)” at Fête, a festival at Wintercheck Factory in Brooklyn

• May 31, 2016

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