Queer voices step it up in 6×6 dance showcase
RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer
On Saturday, Aug. 13, the 6 o’Clock Dance Theatre (6DT) opens its eighth season in a different fashion. Normally, many companies kick off a season with a premiere piece or a signature performance.
But for 6DT, its own dancers are shooting their shots with a showcase of new works.
The company will host 6×6 at the Latino Cultural Center on Saturday, featuring six original works choreographed by six 6DT artists. The performances include four works by company dancers and premieres from Assistant Rehearsal Director Jarvis McKinley and Artistic Director Zach Law Ingram.
For J. Alexander Langley, the show offers opportunities for company dancers. The out dancer choreographed the piece “At First Sight” for the show.
“This show is such an important chance for us to get our creative work shown,” he said. “On our own, we’d have to get a theater, a rehearsal space, lights, tech. There is so much in producing a piece. With the company producing it, all the bells and whistles come with it, and that’s a big deal.”
With a published piece caught on camera, Langley and the other dancers now have a professional show to add to their portfolios.
This is 6DT’s way of giving back, in its own way, to its dancers. Although a professional company, 6DT dancers volunteer their time to rehearse and perform. Many of the dancers have professional day jobs that range from being dance teachers to therapists while others are pursuing science-based degrees.
“That’s kind of our spiel,” Langley said. “We have our varied jobs during the day, but at 6 o’clock, we dance.”
He added that the company is a space where people can pursue their passions and express themselves whatever that looks like. And expression is important to Langley as an out, queer, Black dancer.
“That’s one thing I love about this company. Four of the six choreographers are out, and we have that representation here,” Langley said. “Having said that, it doesn’t necessarily mean my vision is always Black and always gay.”
His piece on Saturday is hetero-presenting, but he does say that was a compromise. “At First Sight” recalls Langley’s first time falling in love with another man. But with only two men in the company, with Langley himself being one of the two and opting not to dance in his own work (not to mention, he’s recovering from an injury), Langley had to make a choice.
“Sure it’s frustrating, but rather than throw the whole piece away, I felt okay changing the details,” he said. “Adam would be dancing with a woman for this piece, and this was a more fun dance that I wanted to present, and I didn’t want to have to change my whole state of mind.”
The other cis male dancer in the company Adam Rech will have his own moments in 6X6.
He will perform in two pieces, including Langley’s and will present his own choreographed work, “Black Bar.”
Entering his second season, Rech will bring forth a piece he’s been cultivating for four years. The piece began with his time in Israel with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
“I was very inspired by choreography and storytelling, but also this idea of censorship and struggle that condemns something beautiful,” he said.
For him, he learned that what is often innovative can be seen as conflicting or controversial.
The title refers to the strip of black that hides nudity or covers mouths in print. With darkwave music and Middle Eastern sounds, Rech described his piece as sci-fi with some darker but groovy undertones.
“My brain goes to old school science fiction and this idea of programming humans not to think for themselves like in Brave New World,” he said. “I’m excited to convey these messages through light and costume and movement.”
While these ideas of censorship came up in a different mindset, Rech also saw parallels with topical dialogues about queer, trans and womens’ rights.
“I originally created this about censorship and boycott, but I began thinking about all those issues and being a queer individual, I wasn’t certain where the lines were in my piece,” he said.
He found anger, however, which he said entered his mind while creating the dance.
“It makes me angry that people want to put restrictions on bodies,” he said. “Rights of termination or to feel pleasure or anything with the body — there should be no rights to limit that.”
A dance teacher by day, Rech is ready to show his talents as a choreographer. He already knows he can dance.
“As dancers early in our careers, we’re still understanding the dynamics between art and our lives, and this is a first time for us to produce the whole show. We’re all diving into something new,” he said.
Rech added that he’s ready to bring his own queer flare and energy to the stage, and he is excited for audiences to see these works.
“I’m curious what they will say and then the conversations they have after. I’m sure everyone will have a different favorite piece,” he said.
For more information, visit 6OClockDanceTheatre.com.