Saturday, November 5, 2016

CORD+SDHS Conference Paper

To Learn the Kids:
Dipping into the Genealogy of Voguing’s Pedagogies


Voguing, a primarily improvisational form, requires the dancer to perform in kinesthetic discourse with a Master of Ceremonies (MC) and the surrounding audience at the Ball. Participatory in nature, all people present to voguing (in the Ball) have actions to do in anticipation or reaction to the dancer’s improvisation. This paper investigates how new codifications of voguing techniques are born or regulated, as voguing leaves that Ball space, and is abstracted from its forming community. As non-ball participants learn to dance and teach voguing, fears of an inauthentic practice percolates up for the traditionally Black and Latino queer and transgender dancer-practitioners. The “5 Elements of Voguing”, which mandates a dancer show their skills, at minimum, in doing “Hand Performance, Duckwalk, Catwalk, Spins, and Dips”, provides a code of technique that enacts a level of protection for voguing from its dilution. This required display maintains some sort grounding and control of the combined techniques for improvisation, or new choreographies, that form voguing. This paper finds that though older legendary dancers of voguing teach the children (novice dancers) how to vogue, in turn, the children are the creative force who expand voguing by 1) creating new sub-categories (version of voguing), or by 2) modifying the previous technique formats. If authentic voguing is tied to a technique, which is constantly in evolution, then we must look to the genealogy voguers as a living authenticity. As new generations of queer Black and Latino youth and non-ball dancers vogue, there are new techniques of voguing born. 

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