During the closing performance of Hari Krishnan’s stunning new dance works, Skin and Quicksand, I perved on one of the dancers in the opening pas de deux. His movements were languid and loving, and he danced with the kind of abandon that one might expect of half a gay couple on a beach; his arms twisted through the air, his supple spine and taut calves glistened under the lights, and (as only the best dancers do) he danced as much with his face as with his body. Nothing pervy about all of that, but in the face of his talent and Krishnan’s choreography, I felt guilt about sneaking glances at his bulbous package. Although we live in an era where “Tom Daley’s Bulge Goes Viral!”, in terms of dance and theatre, should I really be focussing on something prurient when other things are on such magnificent display? As one dancer slid his hand between the other’s upper inner thigh from behind in a small and quick movement, my face flushed….and then I felt silly. Much more explicit things have happened on Buddies’ stage before. Hell, much more explicit things would happen in the rest of the show! However, that moment stayed with me. It was an audaciously sexual piece of choreography to me. A sexual connection, a physical manifestation, an intimate peek inside and beyond parts. The following nude shower scene was a study in economical choreography, the romantic and intimate duet with real-life married couple Jelani Ade-Lam and Sze-yang Ade-Lam was colorful and sweet, and as the night continued, the bodies got sweatier, the leaps and tumbling got more daring, and by the end I needed a drink to cool down and a pencil to shamelessly crib some of what I saw.
What was I cribbing for? The World Pride remount of a dance/theatre piece: Indrit Kasapi’s MSM. Unlike Skin and Quicksand, MSM uses text and dialogue (taken from real-life grindr convos, craigslist ads, and hook-up app chat transcripts) to establish the separate identities, desires, and politics of the dancers. Like Skin and Quicksand however, between its pirouettes and battements, MSM is sexual in its stylized choreography. Very sexual. As in, foot fetish orgies. JO group play scenes. Cum spitting. Dancer rolling on top dancer across the stage, dancers exploring their own and each other’s bodies, dancers releasing their animalistic impulses. I have a pas de deux with a dancer in which I bend him, lift him, open his legs, explore him, love him, hurt and get hurt by him. Our faces are covered for the whole sequence, so in studio and in performance, we are literally lovers for those moments: anticipating each other’s moves, trusting each other to never let the other fall, hands in familiar and comforting places others don’t get to touch on a regular basis, saying everything possible without saying anything. Watching Skin and Quicksand was a beautiful reminder that sexual doesn’t have to be salacious and sexy doesn’t need to be blatant. Of course, it’s fun and enjoyable when those things are salacious and blatant, but in aiming for lasting moments, I want to dance in MSM for Indrit like a Hari Krishnan dancer: with strength, confidence, and small gestures that are audacious in their sexuality.