The Secret History of Love, Dance Mission, March 30, 2013

7 Apr

Shawn Dorsey’s Raw Meat company currently comprises him, three other dancers, and, for this production, a singer, Shawna Virago.  The Secret History of Love was performed over the Easter weekend  to a capacity audience at Dance Mission, San Francisco, mid-way in the national city tour of the production Dorsey has researched, written, produced and choreographed.  It also is San Francisco’s second viewing of the production premiering her two years ago.

Using the excellent talents of Brian Fisher, Nol Simonse and Juan de la Rosa, The Secret History is an absorbing view of the subterranean work homosexuals, male and female, have endured within the main stream of U.S. history, political and social, until the gay movement became well organized and open to the public mid-20th century.

Dorsey is the principal speaker, the seeker for love, described in ecstatic and euphoric terms and in phrases familiar to most interior dialogues of individual longing.  While there are interactions breaking up this semi-monologue, Dorsey includes statistics and historical comments regarding the legal penalties visited upon deviants of the “one man and one woman” notion of “acceptable” sexual activity or lifelong commitment.  What Dorsey transmits is pretty sobering and includes an incredibly crude condemnation by one Thomas Jefferson, third president of these United States.

The movement passages are well integrated with the text, many moments where the four men lift each other in stylized versions of the classical ballet attitude; the pace is slow enough so that one can admire both form and the dancers’ skills.  Many times the four men start or come together as a quartet; in the lifts toes are pointed and frequently clear balletic port de bras focuses an encounter, the look of recognition, the start of an embrace.  Feminized struts are exhibited, and flirtatious looks get their due; Brian Fisher’s renditions are exaggerated to the point of being certified gems.  In a shiny, red-sequined sheath Shawna Virago sings with great elan.

A few of these moments are displayed on Shawn Dorsey’s Web-site along with the dates the company will appear in U.S. cities through mid-2014.  The date spread testifies to the dancers’ other commitments, as well as to local schedules.

I do recommend seeing the work, not only for its provocative content, but for its nifty dancers.  Let me inform you however, that if you’re surfing the web, stick to the name Shawn Dorsey.  I roved with the labels Fresh Mean and Raw Meat and got referred to cat meat and beef companies based in the state of Florida.

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