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Sean Dorsey Dance 2018

A moving dance/theater elegy to those lost in the AIDS epidemic.

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Members of Sean Dorsey Dance in “The Missing Generation” (Photo credit: Kegan Marling)

[avatar user=”Joel Benjamin” size=”96″ align=”left” ] Joel Benjamin, Critic[/avatar]The Joyce Theater, in honor of NYC Pride Week, presented Sean Dorsey Dance in its elegy to those lost in the decades-long AIDS epidemic, “The Missing Generation,” based on extensive interviews and oral history recordings with LGBTQ longtime survivors.  Their words provided an aural tapestry, added to a varied—from gentle folk to disco to symphonic—musical score by Jesse Olsen Bay, Dr. Alex Kelly, Ben Kessler and Jeffrey Alphonus Mooney, to make this a moving hour-long dance/theater work that should be seen by a wide audience.

Sean Dorsey is a transgender and queer choreographer whose movement palette in “The Missing Generation” is a gentle, swirling combination of twisty, floor-bound, organic movements with a rich gesture vocabulary.  Where the revealing series of speeches about gay life previous to, during and after the Epidemic provided the facts, Dorsey’s movements provided the emotions that even the depressing stories couldn’t.  A look, a touch, a quick lift, all turned this cast of mature dancers—Dorsey, Brian Fisher, ArVejon Jones and Will Woodward—into a fount of emotion, sometimes too intense to take in.

Structured as a series of short sections, each defined by a piece of music or a speech, “Generation” opened with Dorsey in semi-darkness, nervously dipping up and down, soon joined by the other three cast members, all wearing simple, dark casual street wear, all walking agitatedly.  A voice spoke of things we have blacked out of our thoughts and also welcomed us to the “most visited” place in the American imagination:  “Our inexhaustible ability to look away.”

Members of Sean Dorsey Dance in “The Missing Generation” (Photo credit: Kegan Marling)

Another voice spoke of the changes wrought in a body while suffering from the ravages of AIDS, while the choreographic patterns kept spreading the foursome across the stage and back together again with solo speakers speaking into a microphone down front.  There were several stories of lonely gay youngsters finding freedom of expression—sexual and artistic—in the big cities, particularly New York and San Francisco.  One dancer spoke about the non-stop sexual activity in the latter city, even after the epidemic spread—“So many men, so little time!”  A voice asks, “How can we love again after heartbreak?”

Carefully articulated arm gestures, often held still or undulated for long moments, expressed fondness, sadness and romantic love, while the movements seemed to shape the four dancers into a cooperating community.

Toward the end, Dorsey asked the audience to imagine the generations that came before as hopelessness slowly morphed into optimism.  By this time, the four dancers were dressed alike in red tees providing a united front.

Clyde Sheets’ dramatic lighting design enhanced the staging immeasurably.

The audience at the Joyce for this event was amazingly diverse for this event, evidence of the coolness and openness of the NYC theater goers.

Sean Dorsey Dance (June 20-23, 2018)

Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-242-0800 or visit

Running time: 65 minutes without an intermission

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About Joel Benjamin (564 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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