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 film, please contact ellehong[dot]art[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: Nathan Bala, Isabella Poscente
Platform Operator: Nathan Bala
SBO: Aleighya/AJ Dawkins, Daniel Grove, Sam Morin
Crew: Ruth Goldenberg, Vik Padilla
Music: Charli XCX, Tzusing, M83, Broken Social Scene

An MFA Thesis in Dance at the University of Colorado Boulder. | Bull in a China Closet was supported through funding from the Graduate Research in Dance (GRID) Fund and the Gail Pokoik Scholarship from the University of Colorado Boulder - Department of Theatre & Dance (Boulder, CO).


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 issues 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).