Part 1: We Come Alive
“…And at that point I just had, I had to do some dyin’ and really accept the fact that: Look, this is who I am, and I have to be who I am, and all of us have a right to be who we are. And whenever we submit our will — because our will is a gift, it’s given to us — whenever we submit our will to someone else’s opinion, you know, I mean, a part of us dies, you know.” — Lauryn Hill
There are times when you get a huge burst of inspiration, and you might not be sure where exactly it comes from or where exactly to place it. Such was the case with this piece of choreography. The idea for German Bold Italic had come to me some years before, but for some reason, I talked myself out of using it. Something about this track Towa Tei & Kylie Minogue track seemed like the perfect introductory song; I loved the line where she says “You will like my sense of style.” It’s commanding, assertive, and confident. It felt like a bold statement that needing to be made. And I ain’t gon’ front, at the time I didn’t have the courage to use it. Perhaps I was too afraid because the track wasn’t familiar, or maybe I was unsure of how the style would be received. For whatever reason, I voluntarily died.
When I started thinking about how I wanted to come back to life, this piece began speaking to me again. This piece of choreography involved asking my dancers to trust me to go to a different place; our cabaret show incorporated lip sync, prop improv, freestyle and so many other elements that as hip hop dancers we just weren’t used to. I wanted to encourage the dancers to take their gifts and use them in a way that they hadn’t before; I wanted them to be the most beautiful versatile versions of themselves they could be. Somewhere along the lines, I realized that I couldn’t ask them to do something I was too afraid to do. So in the spirit of the legendary mother RuPaul, I put on the wig, the lashes, and the mug and let have!
The result was a piece that allowed us to have fun and entertain. Together we faced our fears and internal demons and presented what was in our hearts without apology. What the audience got was raw, rough around the edges, clunky boots, lip sync for your life, banji girl, unapologetic, authentic, “first time in drag at a ball” REALNESS BABY! This piece of choreography laid the foundation for the performance style The Purple Lemonade would develop; this is how we came alive.