Performing Arts and Social Justice (PASJ) is debuting their first-ever drag cabaret performance with choreographer Eric Garcia as part of a larger ensemble called Power Lines. A USF alumnus and co-founder of Detour Dance, a Bay Area-based dance company, Garcia has been working with USF students this semester to create a unique series of performances alongside choreographers Dazaun Soleyn, Kara Davis, Arletta Anderson and Adam Smith.
“In This House,” Garcia’s piece for Power Lines, is an ode to drag houses. “For a lot of the performers, this is their first time doing drag,” Garcia said. He mentioned that one meeting was just dedicated to a make-up tutorial. “It was really hilarious. Teaching and watching the process develop has been a lot of fun. To transform into my drag persona, it takes me three hours — and I have experience! So it takes them about five hours. It’s such a layered process. I have a joke with the students [that] it takes you a very long time to look really terrible until the very last minute — when you put on the eye lashes and finishing touches, and you go, ‘Oh there she is!’”
Garcia spoke on how the PASJ department is unique in its prioritization of a different type of art-making. Unlike most dance and theater programs that place emphasis on technique and how to be a professional performer, PASJ puts equal value on the technical [aspects] as it does on being a community advocate for marginalized communities. “We are asking, ‘How can we take narratives experienced by the marginalized and bring them to life and do so consciously?’” Garcia said.
Reflecting on his time as a student in the department, Garcia noted the “vitamins” of performing arts: the foundational dance and history courses being paired with classes where students worked in jails, senior centers and with trans youth, providing a foundation for social justice-oriented performing arts. “PASJ attracts a unique kind of art maker,” Garcia said. “Not one who is just a performer, but an activist and one who is ready to ruffle up some norms.”
Garcia’s “In This House” is just one piece that will be performed for the Power Lines. You can expect to see a show with contemporary, ballet and hip-hop styles, with some of which being accompanied by spoken word and live instruments. The show will also include a screening of the dance film, “Separate Sentence.”
PASJ is presenting USF Dance Ensemble Power Lines Nov. 15-17 in Lone Mountain Studio Theater at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 with USF ID, and $10 without.