Metro Weekly

Dance Place spotlights innovative dance artists in its inaugural LGBTQ dance festival

New festival Gaze continues Dance Place's long-running support of LGBTQ people

dance place
Dance Place: Gaze — Photo: Josh Brasted

“Dance Place has this long history of supporting artists who identify as LGBTQIA. How can we strengthen that?”

Christopher K. Morgan has been asking himself that question ever since he became the organization’s executive artistic director in 2017. Now he’s ready to unveil his latest, and boldest, effort to support the cause: Dance Place’s first LGBTQ-focused festival.

Gaze, the core offering of the five-day, all-virtual festival is a series of “queer-normative” classes that dance professor and choreographer Anthony Alterio first created in 2017.

“As a young, queer dancer, Anthony often felt like he didn’t have the opportunity to study with other queer dance teachers and didn’t see himself reflected in the works that he was asked to dance or the folks that were choreographing and teaching him,” Morgan says. “So he decided at a certain point in his career that he would start that [to] help make sure that there were opportunities for queer students to learn from queer people.”

For the 2021 iteration at Dance Place, Alterio and his collaborator Allison Blakeney have enlisted educators from around the country as well as Matthew Cumbie and Krystal Collins, two D.C.-area dancemakers who identify as queer. In addition to the workshops, the faculty will also perform the virtual recording, The SPILL by Excessive Realness, which starts streaming on Saturday, June 19, at 7 p.m.

Gaze also features filmed performances from two other notable LGBTQ dance duos, including the team of jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham. This Is An Invitation is the latest in their longstanding series Let ‘im Move You, focused on the prancing and bucking style of group choreography popular in gay Black circles in the South, not to mention Beyoncé’s performances. Dance Place hopes to reschedule the duo’s live, in-person dates, canceled last summer, this fall.

In the meantime comes a video adaptation, with performances shot in Mississippi and the Brazilian state of Bahia, that starts streaming Wednesday, June 16, at 5 p.m. Streaming at the same time the next night will be Creep Cuts in Freeze Response, a filmed version of an hour-long work created by Evan Spigelman and Dylan Hunter, who perform together as “agitprop surrealists and anti-fascist clowns Mz. Asa Metric and Mqr En Between.”

Morgan describes the piece as an “incredible, vibrant, very in-your-face drag cabaret, with movement and performance art of a level that I just thought our D.C. queer dance community needs to see.”

Gaze runs Wednesday, June 16, through Sunday, June 20. All streams are free and available through June 28. Tickets for Excessive Realness are $14 per class or $39 to $75 per day, $144 for a weekend pass, or $198 for a full five-day pass. Visit www.danceplace.org and www.excessiverealness.com/registration.

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