Antigone Jr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church
In American and English naming tradition, a junior (jr.) is the son of a father with the same name. Thus, with Antigone jr., the New York choreographer Trajal Harrell purposely scales down Sophocles’ tragedy to playwright’s first scene depicting the relationship between Antigone and her sister Ismene; and their tragic fate.
This work is part of an ongoing series, also entitled Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church, that comes in eight sizes. They all take on the proposition: "What would have happened in 1963 if someone from the voguing dance tradition in Harlem had come downtown to Judson Church in Greenwich Village to perform alongside the early postmoderns?" Rather than illustrating a historical fiction, Harrell uses this proposition to rethink our contemporary context. What we see was neither possible at the voguing balls nor at Judson Church, but a third possibility is created, here and now. This jr. size is unique in time, relative to the duration of a typical 'show', as well as unisex in its casting.
Antigone Jr. confronts the post-modern antagonism against tragically dramatic dance epitomized by Martha Graham's mythological Greek dramas by presenting this contemporary dance version of Sophocles' Antigone. By imagining a theoretical meeting between voguing and post-modern dance, much of Yvonne Rainer's 1965 No Manifesto is put into crisis.
Most of the no's become definite maybe's: maybe to spectacle, maybe to transformations and magic and make-believe, maybe to the glamour and the transcendency of the star image, maybe to the heroic, maybe to involvement of performer or spectator, maybe to style, maybe to trash imagery, maybe to camp, maybe to seduction of the spectator by the wiles of the performer, and maybe to moving or be moved. The only thing we know for sure is yes to the heroic and we're adding yes to the tragic.