Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fresh Meat Festival & SF Trans March

Last month Diane and I made it to this year’s Fresh Meat Festival as guests of director Sean Dorsey. Dorsey, a critically-acclaimed dancer and choreographer, created Fresh Meat Productions to showcase the talents of trans and queer performers and artists. Though I’d interviewed him and his partner trans rocker Shawna Virago and written several articles about them, I’d never had the chance to meet him in person or see him in action.

San Francisco’s Fresh Meat Festival is a three day event presenting new work from some of the hemisphere’s leading trans and queer artists including Dorsey, Colombian Soul, Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, Taiko Ren, Imani Henry, Miguel Chernus-Goldstein, Shawna , Julia Serano and Ryka Aoki de la Cruz.

For this year’s festival, Dorsey challenged performing artists to re-imagine traditional forms—like Hula dancing, taiko drumming and Afro-Colombian dance—from trans and queer perspectives. We went on opening night and were delighted by the diversity of the performances—everything from spoken word to dance, from aerial gymnastics to drumming.

We particularly enjoyed the taiko drummers and Freeplay Dance Crew’s hiphop style dance numbers. Freeplay features Joshua Klipp a trans musician who who Diane offended when he came to our book release party and she called him the guy who sings in two different voices. Although he did have one song that featured both his pre- and post-transition voices, it isn’t his usual manner of performance.

Klipp has unusual breadth as a musician, setting down standards at San Francisco’s old Jazz clubs, putting out the pop EP Patience and touring with trans hip hop artist Katastrophe. A bit of a Renaissance man, Klipp also holds a degree in law, teaches dance, directs the Freeplay, provides promotional photography for local artists, sits on the board of directors for Youth Speaks (a poetry and spoken word organization) and founded San Francisco Bay Area Artist Development and Support to help artists develop “the business and professional infrastructure they need to propel their artistic ambitions.”

If nothing else, this year’s San Francisco Trans March made us glad that we’d been to the Fresh Meat Festival. A number of the performers from Fresh Meat brought their acts to the Dolores Park stage but it was really a waste of their talents. Unfortunately acoustic problems made it almost impossible to hear the performers and the audience seemed more interested in chatting with each other anyway. The poor MC couldn’t even muster applause between artists. Every fourth performer or so the acrostics would kick in long enough for us to put down our stuff and stay awhile longer, and then it would go out again.

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