Kenneth Rainin Foundation

ALL DANCE HAS A MESSAGE: Sean Dorsey

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Jessica and Michael had a fun, energized and important conversation with Sean Dorsey, the U.S.’ first acclaimed transgender modern dance choreographer. Sean’s newest work, BOYS IN TROUBLE, unpacks masculinity with unflinching honesty from unapologetically trans and queer perspectives – and Sean likewise spoke openly about how his work incorporates and expresses unique perspectives on gender, as well as social justice. In fact, Sean shared the idea that all dance, as an inherently expressive art, is a form of social messaging for which the choreographer is responsible. He also shared some ways in which his commitment to the queer community and principles of openness impacts all aspects of his work even beyond the stage – for example using his tech rider to ensure that the spaces where his company performs include non-binary restrooms and the option of non-binary dressing rooms. It was particularly refreshing and motivating to hear details about the “terrified beginner’s welcome” workshops Sean hosts for all people of all body types, gender identities and movement levels across the country, as well as how his team’s background in activism allows them to consistently sell out shows to audiences that include many non-dancers. Let’s learn from Sean’s approach to help more people experience dance!

Sean Dorsey is an award-winning San Francisco-based choreographer, dancer and writer. Recognized as the United States’ first acclaimed transgender modern dance choreographer, he has toured his work to 30 US cities. Dorsey has been awarded five Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and the Goldie Award for Performance. He has been named in Dance Magazine’s 25 To Watch and named “San Francisco’s Best Dance Company” (SF Weekly). Most recently, Dorsey was awarded a Dance/USA Artist Fellowship. Dorsey has been awarded major support by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Dance/USA, and many more sources, as well as a variety of commissions from sources including American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco, 7 Stages in Atlanta, and more.

Dorsey’s works are powerful explorations of human experience. They are highly physical, accessible, rooted in story, and danced with precision, guts and deep humanity. His newest work is BOYS IN TROUBLE, is a powerful evening of dances that unpack masculinity with unflinching honesty – from unapologetically trans and queer perspectives.