Queer Mvmnt Fest 2022: Jay Carlon

Queer Mvmnt Fest: About Jay Carlon’s performance, WAKE


JAY CARLON (he/they) is an artist based in Los Angeles. His work is inspired by growing up the youngest of 12 in a Filipino, Catholic, and agricultural migrant-working family, and is committed to connecting his art practice to sustainability and his personal and collective journey of decolonization. Jay’s work has been presented in USA, Mexico, Thailand and Australia. Carlon has also performed with the Metropolitan Opera, The Industry Opera, Palissimo, Oguri, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Solange Knowles, and choreographed works for Kanye West and Mndsgn.

In this blog post, Jay writes about his experience, history, and exploration which combined to form the inspiration behind his piece.

WAKE is a solo performance that confronts and transmutes grief into vulnerability, joy, and acceptance. The work evokes Filipinx American grieving and healing rituals, learned in my upbringing and boldly reassembled to express conflicting versions of truth and identity. It combines a delicate movement vocabulary with combative wrestling and boxing. It layers religious iconography with objects, sounds, and smells of a diasporic experience. The score for the performance mirrors the Catholic Novena and plays out as meditative, gestural, and task based.

As a queer brown person, rewriting and reimagining this turbulent world through performance has become a means of survival. I create new rituals so that I can see myself reflected back in places that I do not fully understand or belong. In my work, I am reclaiming my Filipinx American identity and unearthing the fragmented colonial history of the Philippines. I look to the resilience of my ancestors and share that spirit with my community.

This piece is a deeply personal exploration of loss and through the performance, I am wrestling to understand, comprehend, and ultimately transmute this pain. The events of the last two years have been devastating for many and it is my goal to create an experience that offers an opportunity to reflect upon and shift our narratives. I am inviting grief into my process as a collaborator – to listen, to respond, and to challenge myself.

I have heard recently that grief is essentially love that has nowhere to go.  How can this process provide a channel to direct lost love?  I am creating WAKE to provide an outlet for love to flow. To wrestle with grief.

But does the act of wrestling create stagnation? What if I allowed grief to take its course? To confront grief without the tension and conflict that arise from trying to control it.  2022 is year of the Tiger—may it be fierce; the element, however, is water—may it be adaptable and flexible.  How can I be fierce, courageous, and strong like the tiger, but allow things to happen with the malleable quality of water?

With surrender.

I can’t do this alone… The love is too great.  Community is integral to help me find a place for this love to go.  And that is why WAKE is as much for me as it is for others.  For those with love in them and nowhere to direct it.  To use ritual, performance, and prayer to transmute it.  Not necessarily for joy… but for hope and acceptance.

You can see WAKE on Saturday, June 25th at 6 and 8 pm during Queer Mvmnt Fest. Jay Carlon is also teaching a workshop on Sunday, June 26th. For more information about the festival and registration for all the events, use the link below. 

Queer Mvmnt Fest is happening on June 24-27 at various locations and times. The festival features 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. Use the link in our bio to sign up for all activities and performances.

photo by Marissa Mooney