Stand behind the curtain and wait for signal
Listen for “Go” to open the curtain and walk down the stairs
Once at the bottom of the stairs, let the music decide your ending pose
My goal for this appropriation project was to get my friends to participate in a culture they are mostly unaware of. Ballroom culture is something that I have been learning more about through shows like Legendary and Pose because I feel as if it’s a black subculture that is frequently overlooked yet has influenced generations. Ballroom culture slang is constantly appropriated, and people have no knowledge of the community that created these terms.
To find inspiration from in-class artwork, I instantly thought of The Cabaret Voltaire created by Hugo Ball. This cabaret was seen as a variety show for the ideals of culture and art during a time when freedom of expression was very limited. It served as proof of independence by growing a community within a city of exile. Original works from artists and poets were given a safe space to be performed, encouraging a subculture to thrive during a depressive time. This concept of societal pressure to hide differing views inspired communities to create art reminded me of Ballroom culture. Ballroom was an underground subculture for LGBTQ people of color to freely express themselves during a time when they weren’t accepted. By utilizing unassuming buildings(just like The Cabaret Voltaire did) Ballroom culture was able to promote their ideals in a safe space, and their ideals ended up creating art.
A place full of acceptance and independent minds can fuel the best forms of performance art, which is what my artwork “Work the Runway” focuses on. By testing out my artwork in a more intimate space, my friends felt encouraged to dance weirdly because we all were shouting at them(just like most Ballroom Vouge Battles spectators). With the confidence of professional dancers, my friends ended up channeling Naomi Campbell when walking through the curtain. I ended up posting this video of us dancing and my friends who were not there kept commenting things like “ate” or “slay” which are ironically terms heavily used in Ballroom culture, so it’s interesting to see how this culture has been a prominent part of our lives that has even influenced how we walk down stairs.
Video of my friends Working the Runway