Soho’s HERE and temporarily homeless Dixon Place—two struggling institutions that champion diversity and the raw process of experimentation—teamed up this summer to create “Fuse: The NYC Celebration of Queer Culture.” For dance lovers, a few evenings at HERE’s intimate theater spaces offered a mixed goodie bag including works by openly queer choreographers Francisco Rider Da Silva, Sara Smith, Anne Gadwa, Sharon Estacio, Arthur Aviles, Jen Abrams, and MonstaH BlacK. Paul Langland performed two solos co- created with choreographer Dana Salisbury, who happens to be straight.
Even the typically open-minded HERE or Dixon Place fan could use a compass. One productive way to engage each piece was to ask, “Does this artist take dance audiences—straight or queer—farther out or deeper into the world than we usually go?” The choreographers could eliminate ironic nerdiness, pointless fooling with props and noise, and flamboyance for flamboyance’s sake—surface stuff, all so very yesterday. That would leave moments of pure feeling and humanity—the inescapable horror of Langland’s tale of torture and death in Storyteller; all the yearning, touching, and physical support in Estacio’s quintet Smoke; the bright and energetic community of Aviles’s sextet, who narrate, in dance and clever movement, a cocky young man’s epiphany in the Puerto Rican rainforest. How often do dances zoom you from Nueva York down to El Yunque’s waterfalls?
Then there are the performers who would be convincing no matter what they chose to do. Langland, of course; Abrams contemplating 9-11; Da Silva, a bold sculptor of bodies; Gadwa, who, in her solo I Dream of Monster Babies, strangely combines the hideous and the fragile; Estacio’s compelling all-girl crew; and Aviles’s boogie-down Bronx gang—not the least because a dancer sporting long purple fingernails is something you won’t see every day.
Deborah Jowitt on the Fuse Festival