Choreographing a Queer Ethics: Between Bill T. Jones and Keith Hennessy

Choreographing a Queer Ethics, Bill T Jones and Keith Kennessy

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ABSTRACT: What possibilities might melancholia offer for a queer ethics, and what might it mean to perform such an ethics onstage? In this essay I analyze mobile figurations of U.S. nationalism, violence, and visuality as theorized in the work of contemporary queer choreographers Bill T. Jones and Keith Hennessy. I suggest that Jones’s 1989 Untitled and Hennessy’s 2006 Sol Niger evidence shifts in racialized sexuality and empire from the 1980s to the War on Terror, even as they both mark converges between geopolitics and biopolitics. Reading these works together—despite their markedly different aesthetics and tones—elucidates a queer ethics rooted in and capable of contending with our contemporary political moment of war and U.S. empire-building. Further, these works model how dance and other embodied, collective practices can engender what Jill Dolan calls “utopian performances” or possibilities for critique and transformation rooted in moving social bodies.

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    Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 23.1 (2013): 83-106.