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A Brief History of Ballroom: Public Talk + Vogue Workshop

with Michael Roberson and Ralph ‘Posh’ Gvasalia
Thursday, June 16, 2022 | 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM | FREE
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

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We are fortunate to be welcoming NYC-based public health practitioner, activist and artist Michael Roberson back to SFU — continuing the conversation on the history of the House | Ballroom community.

For this special event, Roberson will give a public talk, followed by a dance workshop with Ralph ‘Posh’ Gvasalia of VanVogueJam!

Schedule

4:30 PM | Doors open
5:00 PM | Talk by Michael Roberson
6:00 PM | Vogue Workshop with Ralph ‘Posh’ Gvasalia

The Talk

In this public lecture, Michael Roberson will explore the history of the House | Ballroom community as a BlackTrans-Womanist theological discourse, a freedom movement, and its spiritual formation responses to race, class, sexuality, and gender oppression. It will further examine the community’s ability to use the art of performance as a hermeneutics of the body and situate its history in mobilizing as a resistance to these oppressions, placing it in conversation with other historical struggles.

This talk will illuminate the community’s prophetic gift of truth telling, its ethical gift of archiving suffering and allowing it to speak. Being on intimate terms with death and annihilation, through the trifecta of the philosophical, theological, and political, the HBC has something to say to the world over: “What it means to be human, to struggle for freedom, to reimagine death, and to transmute it to power, healing, and life.”

The Workshop

Posh breaks down the basic 5 Vogue-Femme elements: Hands, Catwalk, Duckwalk, Spin/Dips, Floor. These fundamental elements are key to Vogue-Femme performance, making this class perfect for both beginners and first time dancers to the form.

More info about Posh and the Vancouver Ballroom Scene at www.vanvoguejam.com.

Co-presented by the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts and SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Supported by the Musagetes Foundation.

Biographies

Michael Roberson

Michael Roberson is a public health practitioner, advocate, activist, artist, curator, and leader within the LGBTQ community. He is the co-creator of the nation’s only Black Gay Research group and National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition. He holds two Master degrees from Union Theological Seminary NYC, and is Adjunct Professor at both The New School University/Lang College NYC, and Union Theological Seminary NYC. He is an international art and politics consultant and a member of the international sound art collective entitled “Ultra-red.” Michael is scholar in residence for the Center for Race, Religion, and Economic Democracy, as well as a recent TED Media Resident, where he performed a global TED talk about the underground Black/Latinx House/ball ballroom community, entitled The enduring legacy of ballroom.

For Black History Month 2021, Michael co-authored an article in Time Magazine titled Why Voguing and the Ballroom Scene Matter Now More than Ever. Michael also serves as a cultural consultant for Pose, the FX television show. Additionally, he is a public health advisor and community engagement specialist for the NYC COVID-19 contract tracing initiative.

Ralph ‘Posh’ Gvasalia

Ralph ‘Posh’ Gvasalia has been in the Ballroom Scene since 2014, opening his own Kiki House of Gvasalia and is also in the Mainstream House of Basquiat. The founder and Artistic/Executive Director of the non-profit organization VanVogueJam, Ralph shares his passion for Vogue/Ballroom culture at his weekly pay-what-you-can classes and vogue balls, acting as a beacon for the queer dance form in Western Canada. Ralph’s histories coming from street, commercial, and contemporary dance — is encapsulated in his class, creating his unique teaching perspective. Most notably his influence from Vogue/Ballroom culture, he acknowledges the Black, Latinx, Trans, and Queer communites that founded these forms.

Related Event

Arts, Health, & Liberation: What can the Black Queer & Trans House / Ballroom movement teach us about public health intra-vention?
with Travis Salway and Michael Roberson
Wednesday, June 15, 2022 | 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM | FREE
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC

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June 16, 2022