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Vogue dance art – a ‘highly stylized’ dance form born from the creativity of ‘black and Latino LGBTQ communities’ in Harlem, New York City, in the l980s – developed as an expression of identity, struggle, aspiration, freedom and beauty.
From a history of diverse modes of expression emanating from communities of belonging coming together in shared spaces ‘that had existed since the late 1800s…[…]…where LGBTQ identities were not only visible but openly celebrated’, vogue dance itself grew out of a creative manifestation of expression known as the drag ball, a phenomenon existing since the 1960s:
[D]rag competitions known as “balls” transformed from elaborate pageantry to “vogue” battles. As part of this ballroom culture, black and Latino voguers would compete for trophies and the reputation of their “Houses” – groups that were part competitive affiliation, part surrogate family.
The stylisation of movement characterising vogue dance art, a form named after the celebrated magazine of the same title ‘took from the poses in high fashion and ancient Egyptian art, adding exaggerated hand gestures to tell a story and imitate various gender performances in categorized drag genres.’
As with all living forms of expression, there is an evolution: ‘With time, vogue changed from the “Old Way” (which emphasized hard angles and straight lines) to the “New Way” in the late 1980’s (which added elements like the catwalk, the duckwalk, spinning, busy and enhanced hand performance).’
From its early iterations through to today, now experienced as a dynamic dance form with transnational status, this perennially evolving mode of dance expression continues to exist as an affirmation of courage and belief. As an integral part of the field of play within dance, vogue dance art exists as an integrative part of that field of difference: a profession of belonging within diversity.
Head to Morley Radio to hear Conversation with Morley dance tutor and vogue dance specialist Tony Tran. He touches on; his training, performance and education work; the significance of vogue dance art for the LGBTQ+ community; the wider significance for culture at large; and teaching at Morley.