Arts & Culture » Dance

Transgender performance extravaganza

by Sari Staver

Sean Dorsey Dance, part of the 2018 Fresh Meat Festival. Photo: Lydia Daniller
Sean Dorsey Dance, part of the 2018 Fresh Meat Festival. Photo: Lydia Daniller  

The 17th annual transgender and queer performance festival "Fresh Meat" features a transgender superhero rock opera, world champion gay ballroom dancers, queer disabled dance pioneers, gender-bending dance theater, and trans comedy.

The 2018 festival, which will be held June 14-16 at Z Space (450 Florida St., SF), is the nation's "most celebrated trans and queer performance festival," said artistic director Sean Dorsey, who curated this year's lineup. Each evening includes a reception before the performance as well as a party afterwards, according to Dorsey. On Friday, June 15, ASL interpretation is provided; the following evening is the gala reception.


Same-Sex Ballroom champions Robbie Tristan and Ernesto Palma, part of the 2018 Fresh Meat Festival. Photo: Kegan Marling  

The three-night festival, which usually sells out, "features edgy, exquisite, extraordinary dance, theater, and live music, and a cornucopia of regional and world premieres," said Dorsey, 46, a trans man.

In a telephone interview with the Bay Area Reporter, Dorsey said the 2018 festival "is a loving declaration that trans and queer people of color, disabled queers, elders, and gender-nonconforming artists are brilliant and wise. These artists light the way through the entire mire of hatred and attacks on our communities and show up the way to a glorious future where all of us can love and live as our full authentic selves.

"Given the current [Trump] administration and the horrific attacks on our community, we've built the festival as a real love letter to our communities, as a gigantic celebration of trans and queer people and trans and queer artists as prophets and guides who are an inspiration to all of us in these troubled times," said Dorsey.

In an email to the Bay Area Reporter, champion ballroom dancer Ernesto Palma wrote, "It is an honor to be part of this incredible Fresh Meat Family. It has been a fun and exciting challenge to create something fresh for the new year and promote our artistry as part of the LGBT family. I'm so excited and happy to be part of this show because it is like nothing else I have done."

This year's festival will include:


Queer, nonbinary-trans disabled dancer Toby MacNutt, part of the 2018 Fresh Meat Festival. Photo: David Punia  

Queer disabled dance superstars Alice Sheppard and Laurel Lawson,
Bay Area singer-songwriter legend Blackberri,
Soul-stirring opera by Breanna Sinclaire,
Groundbreaking comedy-storytelling by Charlotte Tate,
Trans mestiza wordsmith Elena Rose?(mestiza is defined as "a woman of mixed racial or ethnic ancestry, especially, in Latin America, of mixed American Indian and European descent,")
Queer bachata by Jahaira Fajardo & Angelica Medina,
In Lak'ech Dance Academy bachata team Quisqueya,
Same-Sex Ballroom champions Robbie Tristan & Ernesto Palma,
Anthemic Americana singer-songwriter Shawna Virago,
Trans/queer trailblazers Sean Dorsey Dance,
Contemporary R&B and Soul by Tajah J,
Bomba dance and music ensemble Taller Bombalele,
Trans superhero rock opera "The Red Shades,"
and Queer, nonbinary-trans disabled dancer Toby MacNutt.

"Transgender and LGBTQ people are under attack right now all across the US, with anti-transgender bathroom bills and hate-fueled campaigns," Dorsey concluded. "The Fresh Meat Festival is a joyful call to action, a celebration of world-class artistry by transgender, non-binary and queer artists. This year's Festival is an ecstatic affirmation that we are beautiful and powerful!"

For information, see www.freshmeatproductions.org. Ticket prices begin at $15 on a sliding scale, and $20-$50 for the Saturday night gala. Tickets are available online at www.zspace.org/freshmeat2018.


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