Hello, we are Courtney King and Melissa Lewis. In the last year, we have been molding and developing a dance collective called hers and hers — her (Courtney), plus her (Melissa), plus the shared her.
As young, fresh-cut artists, we feel very new. Though we claim the title of co-founders cautiously, we hope to create a solidified community around our vision: to use hers and hers as a feminist platform to approach, envelope and wrestle a spectrum of human experiences. In other words, we hope to contribute a drop into the pool of feminist/dance dialogue.
We ask ourselves: how can making dance be a feminist act?
For us, it is.
We believe the medium of dance can be used as a tool to amplify and point attention to feminism and the concepts that surround and support it.
A(n overwhelming) set of questions hers and hers circles around — in our creative process, in watching performance, and in life in general:
What is feminism? What is feminism in dance?
How are men included in a feminist methodology?
How are those with non-normative gender identities included?
Is feminism undermined or strengthened by dance we see today?
What can we uncover and show from experiences/ideas to ‘an audience?’
How can the personal be shared/related to?
How are we doing? Are we okay? Are you okay?
Where is the intersection of the personal and the political?
What norms are we experiencing we disagree with?
Where does love come from? How do we ask for it?
How can we represent ourselves and others? Where do we see inequality?
Here are some thoughts that respond to some of the above… in no order, with no specific structure…. but we place these thoughts at the core of what we hope to make:
- The body is an archive of a life that can also be present/performed on stage.
- Offstage, we also perform; gender, sexuality, intersections of identities, culture, history and lineage.
- ^This crisscross of the personal + the political + performance is a ripe, juicy peach we want a piece of.
- The shared her needs to be empowered, not objectified.
- We are in control of ourselves — in how we identify, react, present and shift. We should be proud of this.
- What is private can also be deeply political.
- Our current, personal inspirations for hers and hers: Alien She (Riot Grrrl), Lesbian Beds (Tammy Rae Carland), Malinda LaVelle’s “Urge”, Hubbard Street Dance’s “PacoPepePluto”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on ‘Being Liked’, Sarah Bush Dance
- When we showed our newest duet peach pits at the Young Choreographer’s Forum in May 2015, one of our favorite comments from an older woman was, “You know, I think we all experience this, at some time.” This kind of universal dialogue is what we hope to ignite in our work.
- Work we’ve seen recently that (to us) is a feminist act: Rocked by Women + Am I square? + Chris Black / Courtney Moreno, duet at Dance Lovers + Age & Beauty Part 1: Mid-Career Artist/Suicide Note or &:-/
Feminism is the thread through our personal narratives. It guides us in our choreographic work and creative mind. As we move forward it will continue to be one of the epicenters of hers and hers.
hers and hers is a queer choreographer duo starting to make work that asks… all the above. We are also about to launch a feminist book club. Come to our first open rehearsal on July 10th (1 grove, San Francisco, 7-9 pm). If any of this is a spark for you, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtney King is a dancer, sister/daughter, student (forever learning/reading/devouring) + queer. She is passionate about sexuality, gender, intimacy and finding how these topics intersect both for her and in the larger picture.
Melissa Lewis lives in the San Francisco Tenderloin, makes coffee, takes 35mm photos and speaks Chinese with her mom. She tries to write, sing, play and draw. She dances with herself often, other days with Detour Dance. She fights and loves the her that is her.
Four years ago Melissa baked banana bread and brought a slice of it for Courtney on her birthday. It was one of their first rehearsals with Malinda LaVelle at the University of San Francisco (Performing Arts & Social Justice). Since then, they’ve lived together, laughed and cried together, made a couple little dance nuggets, missed each other from different sides of the world, and dreamed about starting this dance collective.
#1 & #3 Photo by Alex Burns, November 2014, peach pits at the Garage as a part of RAW
#2 Drawing by Melissa
#4 Film photo by Melissa, 2014