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LGBTQIA+ Encounters: A Reflection

Tue 25 April 2023
Part of: Encounters Festivals
LGBTQIA+  encounters lead image

Back in February, we held our LGBTQIA+ Encounters Festival, co-curated by Bakani Pick-Up. This week, we reflect on the festival, its themes, and the many inspiring events and conversations that took place. 

Over two days we presented twelve events, involving twenty one artists, mostly onsite at Yorkshire Dance, but also at the historic Corn Exchange. These included talks, short film screenings, workshops and live performances of the moving ‘Can this place be a temple?’ by Akshay Sharma and the joyful ‘Dandyism’ Patrick Ziza Dance.

Jija Sohn returned to Yorkshire Dance following her Autumn 2022 residency, travelling from the Netherlands to deliver a Performing Gender Insight workshop, supported by Kingdom of the Netherlands and Leeds 2023.

To co-curate this festival, Yorkshire Dance invited Bakani Pick-Up to consider how different parts of our experiences and identity overlap and intersect with Queerness. What developed was a festival with many different moments of creativity, connection and movement, by a huge variety of national and international artists.

Screen dance was an especially popular medium for the festival. From the grooves of Imogen Wright, to the poetry of connection with Zara Lee at our Triple Bill, it was such a pleasure to see that the creativity, ambition and momentum of this field is only growing. Other screen dance highlights included “To Feel Something Tipping Towards You” by Es Morgan exploring visibility and trans embodiment; ‘Soliloquy at the Atacama Desert’ by Monica Blaszczak which looked at hauntology and the cycles of the planet; ‘RANT’ by Martyn Garside and Owa Barua exploring the relationship between artists and their practice, and ‘Portrait of a Dancer: Max Cookward’ by Henry Bowley exploring the rejection of the need to perform and conform in daily life. 

The panel talks were another highlight of the festival, all centring on Queerness and its intersection with three different elements of identity – Performativity, Disability and Diaspora. Each talk was fascinating and in-depth, and gave so much food for further thought and conversation. 

There were so many moving moments from the festival, not least in our dancing workshops! ANDROGYNY! with Charlie Ashwell and Es Morgan had a gentle, curious and open atmosphere, it was so calming to witness. In a more energetic workshop, The Rainbow Butterfly with Ella Mesma, focused on the lifecycle of a butterfly, including the crafting of wings. Max Cookward also drew on wildness for the Improvisation workshop, to beautiful effect. Akshay Sharma’s ‘Chalking Through Love’ rounded off the workshops, exploring text, emotion and how it relates to movement, connecting back to their stunning performance from the night before.

We were thrilled to be joined by such an engaged audience, new faces, as well as those who have attended and supported previous Yorkshire Dance events. Audiences gave some lovely feedback and responses.

“This was absolutely wonderful. My son and I came to it from the Rainbow Butterfly workshop and it was the perfect way to crown off a fantastic couple of days of dance workshops. He was especially mind blown that anyone could do a Death Drop on a Yorkshire stone floor!” Parent who caught Dandyism at the Corn Exchange.

If you would like to join our next Encounters, it will take place on 8 July, so save the date, and sign up to our Get Involved Newsletter to be updated when the tickets are released.


Images © Brian Slater

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