Do You Dare

for Sax Quartet and two Narrators
2015

*trigger warning*

When I was 16, I was dating a...man-shaped person. And my friends would ask me the typical questions. "Where did you meet?" "How'd you start dating?" "Have you said I love you yet?" Fast-forward 8 months, I have a few more things figured out, and I'm dating someone who at the time identified as female. You'd think the questions would be similar - "Where did you meet?" "How'd you start dating?" "Have you said I love you..." But these aren't the questions we were asked. Actually, the questions were much, much different. So I started writing those questions down and when I finished writing down the questions I'd been asked, I started writing down the questions some queer person somewhere had been asked before. Then I began writing down the questions that I wanted to ask, that I wanted to ask of...perhaps...straighter people. I wove these questions into music, using sax quartet (the most flamboyant of chamber ensembles) and finished with what I considered a challenge. As if to say - Do you dare imagine what this is is like for us? Dare you ask? Dare you help? And most importantly, dare you do something about it?

Her Body is a Book

for Electric Cello and 3-6 dancers
2014

My exposure to dance has always been from a place of release. Even when I first started dancing blues, it was about feeling the music in your own body rather than memorizing any particular steps. The summer of 2014 was when dance became something much more therapeutic. I started exploring Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms and discovered that dance helped me live authentically in my own skin.

“Her Body is a Book” attempts to illustrate this journey. It begins with reluctance, hinting at a chaos that hides beneath. This chaos builds through soft-spoken spurts of lyricism and relentless, rhythmic pizzicatos. When the chaos has amounted to full expression, the piece withers into calm, though not entirely content.

With improvisatory dance cues, one dancer is cast as “She,” representing the journey of a dancer from fear of dance to surrender. The other dancers act as supporters, each with their unique way of interpreting the music. The cues for the dancers outline the 5Rhythms to show the progression in and out of the most intense parts of dance. However, the final section is dedicated to a partner blues dance as a way of illustrating the calm of surrendering and the necessity of compassionate human connection, especially after an intense emotional journey.

The title “Her Body is a Book” describes my own mental shift in viewing my body. First I viewed it as something on loan, something transient and destructible. Dance has helped me view the body as something powerful, something that has the capacity to express who I am and where I’ve been.