Julia DeLeon

Julia DeLeon is a PhD student in Performance Studies at NYU. Research interests include belief, self-indulgence, and queer aesthetics.

"Dance Through the Dark Night: Distance, Dissonance and Queer Belonging"

Choreographer and sound designer Trajal Harrell’s recent work, Antigone Jr., is a fictive encounter between genres, subcultures and strangers. The performance is an answer to his hypothetical provocation: “What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the Voguing dance tradition in Harlem had come downtown to Judson Church in Greenwich Village to perform alongside the early postmoderns?” Harrell traces an alternate history of queer dance as he brings together forms that developed contemporaneously but in parallel. He collapses the physical and psychic distance between uptown and downtown, while refusing a simultaneous collapse into companionable collaboration, as his work reflects the segregation of the uptown/downtown scenes, both invoking the resonance between the styles and their points of disconnect in lived experiences of race, class, and sexuality.

In this paper, I explore the importance of music to these disparate choreographies of queerness and their relation to belonging and coalitional politics, invoking Adorno’s assertion: “dissonance is the truth about harmony” (144). The music used in the performance served to unsettle the pleasure of the two dancers’ virtuosic post-modern voguing, as they spoke and sang along with first too-loud club tracks, concluding with a solo set to an awkwardly lip-synched ballad. While they shared the small gallery space of their performance, the music kept them apart, as they would only occasionally fall into step, not quite on the same beat. Antigone Jr. demonstrates the potential for disparate subcultures, linked with a common identificatory thread, to occupy the same space, and even share the same song, but also questions the relation between shared space and shared feeling.

My Speakers Sessions

Friday, March 23

11:15am EDT