Dancers bring queer love
to the stage
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
Alongside its regular season, TITAS/Dance Unbound likes to let loose — or, in their words, get risky — with its other series of shows.
TITAS/UNFILTERED is the company’s series that is dedicated to risk and to recognize that “not all art is for everyone.”
The series tagline is, “If you’re easily offended, don’t come.” But in this weekend’s show, maybe love conquers all.
Dancers Jae Neal, 35, and Donovan Reed, 27, of A.I.M by Kyle Abraham both hope so.
TITAS/UNFILTERED presents the company for two performances of An Untitled Love, the choreographer’s newest piece that celebrates love through the stories of a gay couple, a lesbian couple and a straight couple to the music of R&B singer D’Angelo.
Performances are Friday and Saturday at the Moody Performance Hall.
Based out of New York, A.I.M by Kyle Abraham has a mission to create work “that is galvanized by Black culture and history.”
“I would say that Untitled Love is a tender experience of Black love that really zeroes in on the communities of Black people and beyond,” Reed said by phone. “This dance does a beautiful thing through several different lenses. You absolutely feel these emotions.”
Reed and Neal perform together as one of the couples in the piece.
Neal wanted to dive deep and explore the professional relationship he has with his colleague and how to turn that into something real onstage.
“I was spending more time with Donovan to integrate that into the performance. We spoke about what we felt was important to dive into and come up with those moments of spontaneity and nuance,” they said.
Bringing a real dynamic to their performance was crucial, but Neal also expressed a certain humility in bringing this dance alive to audiences.
“It’s exciting to express the image of a queer relationship that relates to my identity as queer person. I haven’t always had the experience to live so honestly in that perspective, so it’s a privilege to share this,” they said.
“The thing I love the most is that, as a spectator, I can see myself inside. The representation in the work here is really special.”
And to think, they barely knew each other prior to this show! They were, in essence, really just coworkers really.
“I did not know Jae at all. At first, I wasn’t partnered with him. We sort of found each other through Kyle’s vision,” Reed said. “As Jae mentioned, we got more comfortable with our outside friendship to help our characters grow. That sociability grounded our relationship on stage.”
Trust was important to the two — just like a relationship in real life.
“That was the exciting part about this space we built. These new perspectives and emotions I think keep the performance alive,” Neal said.
“Audiences can prepare to bear witness to the life and profound emotion that’s in this show.”
Performances are at 8 p.m. both days. For more information and tickets, visit ATTPAC.org.