Sean Dorsey’s The Missing Generation gives voice to those lost to AIDS

Transformative dance company offers workshops to Transgender and LGBTQ individuals, groups, non-profits

Nol Simonse, left, ArVejon Jones, Brian Fisher, Sean Dorsey in The Missing Generation.

Two men embrace on a dark stage. The mournful song of a cello breaks the silence. A voice speaks: “At a certain point, you’re changed. … Just like people who go through war. You’re changed.”

A powerful dance piece, The Missing Generation, gives voice to thousands who died during the early onslaught of AIDS, exposing the immense grief and trauma of the time. The work uses parts of some 75 hours of interviews choreographer Sean Dorsey recorded over a two-year period.

Dorsey says The Missing Generation turns an eye to a painful time in history of which, even the younger LGBT community has little understanding.

“We’re not taught about this really important Canadian and US history which is that transgender women were profoundly and disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS and everyone turned their backs on trans communities. … If a trans woman went to a gay AIDS organization, she may very well (have been) turned away, mocked, ridiculed. There was this extra layer of discrimination that trans women experienced.

“I think our culture’s turned its back on that painful time in history and also turned its back on this generation of people who experienced it. For me, the project became attuning ourselves and attending to this forgotten generation of survivors and exploring the ways that we need to show up for these people.

“Holding them in the grief and sadness, also listening and learning about the incredible power of people’s response and activism and incredible heroic, deeply human, love and care-taking and community building that happened.”

Dorsey has made a name as a queer activist and artist, but at his core is a person with a passion for storytelling.

“Early on, I started making work as a student in dance school and getting so that I could bring my trans and queer self and experience into this work in order to finally bring some trans and queer experiences and bodies to the stage,” he says.

His choreography often begins with conversations. He is moved and inspired by people in the LGBT community.

“I’m very proud of being trans and that’s very much a part of my identity and the work I do in the world as an activist and an artist,” he says.

It was in the research phase of another project that he realized an entire generation of the community was gone.

“There is a whole swath of an entire generation who I couldn’t meet with and interview, or talk to about our community’s experiences in decades past, because we had lost so much of an entire generation of transgender and gay and bisexual people to HIV and AIDS in the early epidemic. That was kind of the real spark for the project.”

The Missing Generation is Dorsey’s love letter to that forgotten generation of survivors and people who witnessed and experienced the early AIDS epidemic first hand.

“It’s been a totally life-changing project from the very beginning,” says Dorsey. “We feel good about it and proud that we embodied and expressed people’s stories and histories with integrity and compassion. … The response has really been just extraordinary astronomical.”

Dorsey was born and raised in Vancouver. He moved to San Francisco 15 years ago and founded Fresh Meat Productions, which builds community through transgender arts programs. Sean Dorsey Dance, which celebrates its 10th season this year, is its resident dance company. The company is bringing The Missing Generation to UVic’s Farquhar  Auditorium July 8 as part of Victoria Pride Week.

“This is our first international tour with The Missing Generation. It’s my first time bringing my whole company to my homeland and I’m really excited to be at such a beautiful venue,” he says.

Sean Dorsey is offering two free workshops July 9 for Transgender and LGBTQ individuals, groups, non-profits and services agencies. uvic.ca

 

 

Just Posted

HOROSCOPES: It’s all about you, Libra and Scorpio

Monday astrologer Georgia Nicols serves up her best bets for the coming month

Burton Cummings’ Up Close and Alone tour offers more intimate rock ‘n roll setting

Canadian rocker playing two sold-out shows at Mary Winspear Centre in October

Catch the Motown sound on stage in Oak Bay

Dave Dunnet Community Theatre hosting Motown Magic on Oct. 3

Scottish flavours abound at the McPherson during Skerryvore’s return

Acclaimed Celtic rock fusion band here Oct. 6; whisky tasting, acoustic pre-show added

REVIEW: The Children not depressing, despite nuclear fallout theme

Belfry Theatre production well acted; story asks important questions, writes Sheila Martindale

Set your alarm! Night Shift Halloween tix on sale Friday morning

Royal BC Museum’s adult-only costume event expected to sell out quickly

Canadian author Graeme Gibson, partner of Margaret Atwood, dies at age 85

Gibson remembered for putting his words into action for both cultural and environmental causes

Trailer released for Jason Momoa TV series filmed on Vancouver Island

‘See’ will debut on Apple’s new streaming service on Nov.1

Victoria bookstore looking to earn a place in the record books

Russell Books still collecting Guiness World Records books from public for massive tower

Eddie Money, ‘Two Tickets to Paradise’ singer, dies at 70

The rock star recently announced he had stage 4 esophageal cancer

Cross-cultural flamenco production tells personal story through dance, music

Indian, Spanish influences seen in Nritya, coming Sept. 26 to Glenlyon Norfolk School theatre

$9.8 million announced for B.C. arts groups by province

BC Arts Council to distribute 394 grants across more than 50 communities

Most Read