VIDEO: Trans Choreographer Pays Stunning Tribute To Early AIDS Victims
San Francisco choreographer Sean Dorsey is celebrating the tenth year of his dance company with a harrowing performance about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Entitled The Missing Generation, Dorsey describes the performance as “a love letter to a forgotten generation of survivors.” The Missing Generation is an hour-long show featuring a quartet of dancers, including Dorsey, who perform to scores written by four different contemporary classical composers. Divided into sixteen sections overall, the piece moves back and forth through history, from the hedonistic pre-AIDS era through a time of mass grief and suffering.
The show premiered in San Francisco in May and will travel across the United States for the next two years. The Bay Times calls The Missing Generation “heartbreakingly beautiful … profoundly relevant to all generations.” Plus describes the performance as “sweeping and achingly wonderful,” while Allan Ulrich of The San Francisco Chronicle said that the show’s four-man ensemble is “cause for rejoicing.” Indeed, the performers move in a manner that’s simultaneously intimate and epic, changing costumes at various points along the way to indicate new sections.
Dorsey began the project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Fresh Meat Productions, his award-winning dance company. For two years, he conducted archival research and traveled to six cities to interviewed witness and survivors of the early AIDS epidemic, eventually compiling over 75 hours of material. He explained his motivation behind the project to Plus:
As a trans person, I’m passionate about documenting and sharing transgender experiences of early AIDS. Despite being decimated by the early epidemic, trans women have been all but forgotten in most AIDS histories and narratives. Bringing these stories forward is really important to me.
Named one of 25 to Watch by Dance magazine, Dorsey is the U.S.’ first acclaimed transgender modern dance choreographer. He has won major awards and worked with Matrix/Cloud Atlas directors Lana and Andy Wachowski, as well as Antony and the Johnsons. (V mildly NSFW.) (V?)
The Missing Generation comes hot on the heels of The Secret History of Love, another dance performance rooted in the queer past that Dorsey based on oral histories and archival research.
Later this year the show will be performed at the University of Wisconsin and The Theater Offensive in Boston. Next year the show will travel more widely, with performances scheduled from Pittsburgh to Maui. At each stop the company will feature classes, conversations, and trans-friendly dance workshops.