Try, Hye! by Vera Hannush/VERA! &
Dwelling for Unsettling by Unsettled/Soiled Group
December 8-10 & 15-17, 2022 // 8PM PT // 80 Turk St, SF // counterpulse.org/performingdiaspora2022
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The 2022 CounterPulse Performing Diaspora program presents Try, Hye!by Vera Hannush/VERA! and Dwelling for Unsettlingby Unsettled/Soiled Group. In Try, Hye!, Armenian drag king VERA! explores their complicated lineage by learning from their queer SouthWest Asian and North African (SWANA) diasporic dance teachers. Dwelling for Unsettling invites audiences into an immersive night market featuring performance altars and audio-visual installations that interrogate and resist the entanglement of the diasporic and the settler colonial for Asian diasporic communities on Turtle Island.
Counterpulse’s Artist Residency & Commissioning (ARC) Performing Diaspora program is an incubation residency and commissioning program that supports artists whose work is rooted in a traditional art form, yet is also completely contemporary. Performing Diaspora artists draw on tradition as a radical way to carry the stories of previous lives in today’s time and space.
Dance, drag, theater, performance, comedy, and art as healing – “Try, Hye!” (“Try, Armenian!”) is a narrative arc of VERA! being taught by different queer SWANA diasporic dance teachers, Step Up: SWANA Edition. The audience will see and experience the learning process, the void of cultural knowledge that queer SWANA people seek to fill, and celebrate the end culminating achievement.
Vera Hannush/VERA! (they/them) is a queer Armenian American drag king, dancer, and community activist. VERA is a member and host of the Rebel Kings of Oakland, a member of SWANA Kings (South West Asian North African drag king collective), board member of Oaklash, the Bay Area Drag Festival, and member of Drag Queen Story Hour – Bay Area. They are the father of the House of Pack and the current Mx. Starsearch 2022.
VERA!’s collaborating queer, SWANA, diasporic dancers/choreographers/artists:
Hrayr, Armenian dancer and community activist
Anoush Ellah, Armenian Drag Queen and belly dancer
Shady Bee, Iraqi Drag Queen and belly dancer
Basinah Raqs, Co-founder, Asheq Collective, Queer SWANA bellydance collective
Dwelling for Unsettling
Part immersive theater and part community gathering, Dwelling for Unsettling interrogates and resists the entanglement of the diasporic and the settler colonial for Asian diasporic communities on Turtle Island. Incorporating performance altars, embodied testimonies, public rituals, and audio-visual installations, Dwelling for Unsettling attends to the stakes of embodiment in a settler colony—How have we inherited settler colonialism in our bodies as a modality of moving/being? What might be the kinesthetic strategies to denaturalize and destabilize the settler body and its movement tradition? Drawing from archival studies, family histories, and movement research, this project is an invitation to imagine new embodied senses of who we are and how we move in Asian diasporas that refuse further incorporation into the settler colonial project.
June Yuen Ting (he/she/they) dreams of another world that the confines of colonial capitalist modernity cannot hold. June dances, organizes, agitates, and grieves. They want for all those who survived the violence of western imperialism and white supremacy a fighting chance of loving one another against the colonial imperative of heteropatriarchy.
Unsettled/Soiled Group is a group of East, Southeast, and South Asian diasporic movers, makers, and settlers on Ramaytush and Chochenyo Ohlone land. What brought us together is a shared desire to unlearn and resist Asian settler colonialism on Turtle Island. We aspire to be an open and porous community–we want to build relationships with you. Unsettled/Soiled Group features collaborators Dilpreet Anand, Emily Engelking-Rappeport, Cristina M. Ibarra, Ye Qing Jiang, John-Mario Sevilla, Tashi Tamate Weiss, and June Yuen Ting.
CounterPulse is building a movement of risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. We provide space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture. CounterPulse acts as a catalyst for art and action; creating a forum for the open exchange of art and ideas, catalyzing transformation in our communities and our society. We work towards a world that celebrates diversity of race, class, cultural heritage, artistic expression, ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We strive to create an environment that is physically and economically accessible to everyone. Counterpulse.org
CounterPulse’s ARC Performing Diaspora residency program is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Header Left Image: VERA! By Kane C. Andrade Alt text: VERA! stands in profile, wearing a red bellydance top with jingle belt, and deep red eyeshadow, gold under eyeshadow, long, wavy brown hair, large Armenian eyebrows, painted mustache and beard, and a deep red lip.
Header Right Image: Image credit: Google Maps Alt text: An upside down photograph of the top part of a building.
Illustrations by Grey Tartaglione