Coming out stories. In the LGBTQ community, we all have one. Now, a unique collaboration between Kristi Faulkner Dance and the Ruth Ellis Center is turning those stories into art. “Not in my House’ radically shifts the narrative about LGBTQ identity through the creative re-imagining of coming out stories in an evening-length performance blending vogue, contemporary dance and storytelling,” said event organizers.
It all started in 2016 when Faulkner received a Knight Challenge Award for enriching Detroit communities with the arts. That spring-boarded her into starting work with youth from the Ruth Ellis Center.
“We really started last summer with these movement workshops with the youth because voguing is a huge part of what they do at the center,” Faulkner explained. “Myself and some of other artists in the Detroit dance community and some of the youth who are prominent folk at the center, we led the youth in free movement workshops all summer. We helped engage the youth with different way to move their body outside of vogue but things that could also inform their voguing process.”
From there, the idea came about to create a performance piece: “Not in my House.” The piece itself will feature a cast of six including four youths from Ruth Ellis and two other dancers who identify as LGBTQ.
“At first, I didn’t know how this was going to take shape,” said Faulkner. “We just started talking about our coming out stories. For me, my coming out story had a lot to do with the gay bars. So, I was really interested in what others experienced in the gay clubs and the movement vocabulary that comes out of being at gay clubs.”
Slowly, the concept began to come together and the dancing and storytelling began to blend effortlessly.
“Our stories are different but they all kind of revolve around coming out and how you find a family or home outside of the home,” said cast memeber Paige Michaels Chanel. “It reflects on how a lot of us kind of went to the club scene as a place of comfort or sanctuary. I do shows and pageants so the club scene, for me, is an important part of my life and my coming out story.”
When asked how the performance will be structured, Chanel said that each cast member will have their own time to shine along with their group performance.
“We individually tell our stories through movement and there’s a portion of the performance where I actually give you a tidbit of my own coming out story,” Chanel said. “We all have our own solos. We express ourselves through dance and words.”
Chanel said that the show’s title evolved from an expression many young LGBTQ people hear in their parents’ home.
“A lot of times we’re not allowed to be ourselves,” she said. “Our parents say, ‘You can’t do that. Not in my house.’ So, we go out and find new homes and families. Being with this group we’ve actually become a family. Some of us have known each other before. Others we may not have run across, but we’ve built a bond with each other.”
The whole show, Chanel said, is “very empowering.”
“It’s almost like a healing process for us,” Chanel said. “When we’re hearing each others’ stories we’re encouraging each other to be strong and move forward and have more confidence in ourselves.”
“Not in my House” will be performed at the Planet Ant Theatre, which is located at 2357 Caniff in Hamtramck, Thursday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 13. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $16.
For more information, visit kristifaulknerdance.com.