Queer Mvmnt Fest 2022: Anna Brown Massey

Queer Mvmnt Fest: Interview with Anna Brown Massey


Anna draws from North Atlantic and Scottish dances to bring rhythmic attention to choreographic forms. She has received grants and residencies from Times Square Alliance, OSU Advanced Computing Center for the Arts & Design, and Marble House Project. Anna co-founded NACHMO. She is a San Diego State University faculty member and a Livable Futures Research Fellow. In our interview, she discusses both her film and live performance pieces, and delves deeper into how sound plays a crucial role in her live drag piece.

What would you like the audience to know about your work in this festival?

QMF is screening both a film and presenting a live performance, and these two works appear vastly different. in a quiet time is a contemplative film that elicits an autobiography of a friend and comrade, whereas the performance Whatta Man is a fast-paced sexy drag king duet in which everything is exaggeration from the douche-y club score to the glitter. What holds them together is my attention to rhythm–the when and how of change, and what makes it go. I am also acutely interested in duet processes. While in the film we see and hear only Karen Kaufman (collaborator), my own presence is pulled out through the very human movement of the camera and the sense of conversation underway. In the performance duet, Angelica Bell (collaborator) and I begin in a familiar boy-band-video soloing-while together score, but emerge into an intimacy that subverts that performance form.

What role will sound play in your piece? 

As a live drag piece, sound has been essential: we lip sync to lyrics! But what has driven us musically the most is sending up the subversively aggressive narrative we hear playing out under a sweet boy band bop. When I first heard “What a Man Gotta Do” by the Jonas Brothers I was struck by how aggro it felt. This coy pretty white boy band romance pop is in fact a song of inflexible demand for women. I knew heard it immediately as a drag king piece in which masculinity and all its attending absurdity, violence, and homoeroticism was already present in the lyrics.  ”So I’d give a million dollars just for you to grab me by the collar; And knock on these doors, these doors perplexing and domineering. What, indeed, are these “doors?” Angelica Bell (collaborator) and I found out, and we’re psyched to share it.

Anna will be in residency at Art Produce in July. Her focus will be on developing a folk dance in commune with the garden space and the folks who join in. They will have opportunities for visits and dancing in July and early August. Check it out here.

She will also perform with the San Diego Women’s Chorus in our Pride concert Thursday July 14 at 7pm. The San Diego Women’s Chorus (SDWC) is a lesbian-identified, feminist family of musicians that welcomes members and volunteers from the vastly diverse LGBTQ+ and straight ally communities: https://sdwc.ticketleap.com/louder-than-words/

You can see her works at Queer Mvmnt Fest, a festival featuring LGBTQ+ artists from all backgrounds through performance, film, workshops, and discussions. This festival is the first of many actions towards representation and celebration of queer and BIPOC dance artists in the San Diego community. It takes place June 24-27, at various times and locations. Use the link below to learn more and sign up for the events.