Choreographer/dancer Richard Move (NYC) will collaborate with visual artist Paolo Canevari and theater artist Alba Clemente on XXYY (working title), an interdisciplinary performance exploring gender identity.
BAC Space Resident Artist
Richard Move is Artistic Director of MoveOpolis! a TEDGlobal Oxford Fellow, Ph.D. (ABD) in Performance Studies at New York University and Assistant Professor of Drama, Theatre & Dance at Queens College, CUNY.
Move’s commissions include productions for Mikhail Baryshnikov and the White Oak Dance Project, Martha Graham Dance Company, PARADIGM (Carmen DeLavallade, Gus Solomons, Jr. and Dudley Williams), Italy’s Opera Ballet of Florence, New York City Ballet’s Helene Alexopoulos, Guggenheim Museum/New York, American Festival of Paris, European Cultural Capitol, Parrish Art Museum, Deborah Harry, Dame Shirley Bassey and Isaac Mizrahi. MoveOpolis! has been presented by Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, The Kitchen, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, SiteLines/River-to-River Festival, and on tour internationally. Move’s films include: Bardo, Jury Prize nominee at Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival, BloodWork-The Ana Mendieta Story, National Board of Review Award/Directors Guild of America, GhostLight, Tribeca Film Festival premiere and GIMP-The Documentary, Lincoln Center Dance on Camera Festival premiere. Martha@..., Move’s performances as 20th Century icon, Martha Graham, received two New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies) and tours globally. Martha@...The 1963 Interview, named “Best of 2011” by ARTFORUM International, Time Out and other publications, had its world premiere at New York’s Dance Theater Workshop in March, 2011 and returned for encore performances in November, 2011 at New York Live Arts. RecentMartha@... performances include MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore. Upcoming performances include Martha@Ravello/Italia.
BAC Story by Marissa Perel
Dec 1, 2016
When Richard Move first owned a copy of Autobiography of an Androgyne, he couldn’t keep it in the house. The life story of Ralph Werther a.k.a Jennie June a.k.a Earl Lind, was published in 1918, marking the first telling of a transgender life in the underworld of New York City.
According to Werther/June/Lind, being “third sex” at the turn of the century, one had to encounter men of the “ultra-virile,” sort, enduring the worst violent crimes; rape, robbery, beating, and blackmail; to survive such a life. For Move, the gender fluid fatale, most known for his performances of Martha Graham with 20 years of the touring show Martha@..., the story of this life was all too real. But while researching for his Ph.D. in Performance Studies, with an emphasis in Dance and Gender Studies at New York University, the need to explore this autobiography and the survival of this queer predecessor became undeniable.
In his new work, XXYY, Move along with decades-long collaborators, Katherine Crockett and Catherine Cabeen, traces anecdotes of Werther/June/Lind while joining these stories with songs by Alessandro Moreschi, the only castrato to make solo recordings. With masks and costumes by Alba Clemente, Move channels these turn-of-the-century third sex beings as an offering, in parts homage and haunting.
In the two hours I spent observing Move, Crockett, and Cabeen, I time-traveled through their bodies into my own gender fantasies. Crockett and Cabeen, as mirror images and twin jesters, like a two-headed gender Janus, lifted one another and turned each other both toward and away from the tragic narratives they recited. Move entered in patent leather platform boots, loose pants, and shirt, and swayed deftly to Moreshci.
I felt myself at once subsumed in the atmosphere of the dance like a child. I was taken up by Move as if I was sitting in the lap of a world-weary aunt with a book of gruesome fairytales.
It was a couple days after the election. I was shaking the entire train ride to the wind-blown doors of BAC. My body felt newly and at the same time familiarly unwelcome in this world. Something between the delicate steps and hand gestures of Move combined with the violent, lonely, imploring text of Werther/June/Lind felt like a séance, a recollection of a beloved faerie goddess who had not been known to me until that moment.
I spoke of this night in the early aughts when I had watched Move put on make-up in Lucy Sexton’s loft on Hudson. In my early years in New York, Move’s gender non-conformity left me star-struck, worshipping at the altar of the fem and femme. I could exalt without shame.
As I confessed this, we got on the topic of sacrifice and martyrdom, how both Werther/June/Lind and Moreshci offered up their bodies and voices for the betterment of humanity. Move feels intertwined with this sense of devotion to the lives of gender non-conforming people and the desire to touch the sacred with his work.
“Gender identity disorder wasn’t removed as a pathology from the DSM until a few years ago,” he said. “While there might be a feeling of hope about homosexuality with the legalization of same-sex marriage, gender non-conforming and non-binary people are still marginalized outsiders. The lives that were on the line more than century ago are still on the line. The bloom is off the rose! But that’s why these stories are more resonant than ever.”
Marissa Perel is an artist and writer based in New York. She started the column Gimme Shelter: Performance Now for Art21 Magazine, and was editor of Critical Correspondence, the online journal of Movement Research. Other essays, poems, and interviews can be found in BOMB Magazine, Culturebot, The Performance Club, Drunken Boat, and for Trisha Brown: In The New Body. Her performances and installations have been shown at such as venues as The Chocolate Factory Theater, Center for Performance Research, Danspace Project, Judson Memorial Church, Dixon Place, Pseudo Empire, and Golden. Her chapbook Angry Ocean 1-10 is published by Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs. She has read at St. Mark’s Poetry Project with Samuel Delany, McNally Jackson, and Bureau for General Services Queer Division. She was recently a visiting artist at Konstfack College for Arts and Design, Sweden, Wesleyan University, University of Michigan, and Columbia University. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange.
All photos by Patrick McMullan