The UCSB Department Of Theater/Dance Presents BOYS LIKE US

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The UCSB Department Of Theater/Dance Presents BOYS LIKE US

UCSB's Department of Theater and Dance and B Scott Dance present Boys Like Us, a one-piece dance concert directed and choreographed by Brandon Whited. Performances are at 8 pm, Thursday through Saturday, October 24-26, 2019 in UCSB's Hatlen Theater. There will be a pre-show panel discussion Thursday, October 24, and a post-show Q&A Friday, October 25. The approximate runtime is 40 minutes.

Continuing a line of choreographic inquiry into the plurality and diversity of masculinities, and questions of gender, sexuality and identity more broadly, choreographer Brandon Whited opens the fall season of dance offerings at UCSB with Boys Like Us, an evening-length dance piece that reflects on the process of coming-of-age and 'coming out' as a gay/queer person. Now in his fourth year as an Assistant Professor of Dance, Prof. Whited continues to center his creative research on the experiences and representation of male/masculine dancers. Boys Like Us takes up this mantel, which resonates with the process of self-discovery, acceptance, and the desire for connection. Drawing from postmodern and contemporary aesthetics, the dance employs both stylized and pedestrian movement, improvisational structures and intimate physical interaction to reflect the human need for touch, the exploration of new and burgeoning sexual expression, and the process of forming and evolving identity.

Featuring Sergio Barrientos, Andrew Bauer, Guillermo Castro, Elijah Hahn-Smith, EzraNolan Spencer, and Colin Sneddon, this iteration of Boys Like Us is an expansion of an original duet version developed with Los Angeles-based dancers Sam Wentz and Ryan Walker Page. The duet premiered in the New Shoes series at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, August 2018. Within a summer laboratory framework, Prof. Whited worked with the six student dancers (two having just graduated this past May) to develop and expand the scope, length and complexity of the dance; engaging the performers to collaborate and reflect on their relationship to the work within both broad and personal perspectives. Whited considers themes of vulnerability, discovery, isolation, and the desire for connection that queer adolescent boys might feel as they come into their own. This work utilizes a collage-like musical score, episodic structure, multi-media and expert lighting design by Michael Klaers. Boys Like Us offers a glimpse into the personal, yet public, process of understanding and accepting oneself.

The inspiration for the dance began with Prof. Whited's memory of reading the eponymous book Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories (1996) when he was just fifteen and beginning to figure himself out. This volume of personal essays, edited by Patrick Merla, organizes the many authors' accounts of self-discovery and coming out in chronological order from 1949 through 1995. Featuring renowned authors such as Edmund White, Samuel R. Delaney, and Andrew Holleran (who span generations, represent multiple races, ethnicities and cultures, and hail from all corners of the United States) the collection builds a critical mass of understanding, personal liberation, and pride against the odds of religion, tradition, intolerance and even unabashed hatred.

Aligning significantly with the feminist rallying call, "the personal is political," Boys Like Us offers an honest, yet abstract look at how we develop relationships to others, and perhaps even more importantly, strengthening the relationships we have with ourselves.

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