South Asian drag queen LaWhore Vagistan. Photo by Al Evangelista
May 15, 2019

Expanding the vision of queer dance

The Explode! Queer Dance Festival comes to Culver Center of the Arts in downtown Riverside May 31-June 1

Author: UCR News
May 15, 2019

The two-day Explode! Queer Dance Festival will showcase artists from across the United States and around the world, featuring contemporary dance, improvisation, and drag.

Curated by dance scholar Clare Croft, this will mark the festival’s West Coast debut. UCR ARTS and the UCR Department of Dance are co-hosting the event, which is free and open to the public, on May 31 and June 1. See below for a list of performers.  

The shows will be hosted by the Boston-based drag queen LaWhore Vagistan, who will “spill the tea” on the artists while offering hilarious and thoughtful insights.  

Explode! Queer Dance Festival aims to expand the vision of queer dance today. Through convening a multiplicity of queer dance artists, it allows lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gay, and queer people to occupy a space together and create something with their sweat and their bodies.      

Lukas Avendaño (Photo by Edson Caballero Trujillo)

“No single entity marks something as queer dance, but it is rather how [various] textures press on the world and against one another that opens the possibility for dance to be queer,” Croft said. 

With the current political climate, hosting this festival serves as a defining moment, said Joel Mejia Smith, UCR associate professor of choreography and department chair.  

“We feel the festival supports and expands our department’s vision of creating and producing daring, radical performance by artists both on the fringe and in the mainstream of contemporary dance,” Smith said. “Our faculty includes multiple queer and trans/gender nonconforming artists of color, so with this festival and our own research, we hope to signal to our students and the community the multiple ways queer performance circulates locally and abroad.”

This production of Explode! Queer Dance Festival is coordinated in collaboration with the 2019 Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Gathering, or ICR, and includes overlapping programming. This year’s gathering features indigenous dance artists and knowledge holders whose works engage sexual and gender diversity from a multiplicity of perspectives. For more information about ICR, visit:

Funding for this performance comes from UCR ARTS, the UCR College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and the University of Michigan.


What: Explode! Queer Dance Festival

When: Friday, May 31, 8-10 p.m.; Saturday, June 1, 6-8 p.m.

Location: UCR ARTS, Barbara & Art Culver Center of the Arts, 3824 Main Street in Riverside

Cost: Free. To RSVP: 

Explode! artists 

(some of the performances may have strong language)

Jennifer Monson and DD Dorvillier. (Photo by Sarah Nesbitt)

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