Bull in a China Closet (2021)


Featured in Movement Research | Critical Correspondence.
Click to view a conversation between Elle Hong and Allison Hsu on the work.


To view the full piece, please contact rhmanayan[at]gmail[dot]com.
Concept, Choreography, Text, Projection Design, and Performance: Elle Hong

Director of Photography, Platform Design: Cipriano Ortega
Additional Performance: Brittney Banaei, Aleighya/AJ Dawkins, Johnny Groebner, Cipriano Ortega
Stage Managers: Xaalan Dolence, Anna Pillot
Lighting Design: Nick Cozzo
Additional Camera Operators: Nathaniel Bala, Isabella Poscente
Platform Operator: Nathaniel Bala
SBO: Aleighya/AJ Dawkins, Maddie Grove, Sam Morin
Crew: Ruth Goldenberg, Viktoria Padilla

Master Electrician: Cooper Braun-Enos
Director of Dance Production: Iain Court

Music: Charli XCX, Tzusing, M83, Broken Social Scene, College x Electric Youth

An MFA Thesis in Dance at the University of Colorado Boulder.



Choreographer’s Statement:

i wanted to make something that blurred the edges between a catwalk and a catfight,
how ferocity comes from a place of needing to prove something.
to someone.
how for me, ferocity is just the outwards projection to cover up that on the inside i’m scared shitless.

to catwalk is a choice.
i am choosing to carry myself in a queer way knowing that my death is an ever-looming threat in a world that works to kill trans ppl.

to catwalk is a choice
to live my life in a particular way—to tell you i would rather die being this way
than to live life lying to myself.

••••••••••

Bull in a China Closet is an autobiographic dance film that highlights the artist’s attempts at portraying a deeply layered, queer identity. Combining dance/performance, text, and cinéma vérité, Elle demonstrates the tension and confusion of a trans person working to exteriorize their interiority, or, working to create an outward-facing image that more closely resembles the image they envision for/of themself. In doing so, the film is rife with moments where the social problems plaguing the artist, which often go unseen, are made transparent and affective for the viewer. In Bull in a China Closet, Elle attempts to give the full fantasy of their idealized gender archetypes, while leaving space to contemplate the process of creating new genders, and ultimately, new worlds.

A “bull in a china shop” refers to “a person who breaks things or who often makes mistakes or causes damage in situations that require careful thinking or behavior” (Merriam-Webster). This adage has been adapted to better reflect the social environments the artist moves through as a QTPOC (queer/trans/person-of-color).





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