O Hye I Didn’t See You There

VERA! (they/them) is a queer Armenian American drag king, dancer, and community activist. They are one of CounterPulse’s 2022 ARC Performing Diaspora artists and will debut Try, Hye! alongside Unsettled/Soiled Group’s Dwelling for Unsettling, Thursday through Saturday, December 8-10 & 15-17, 2022

Tickets are available now! 

Dance, drag, theater, performance, comedy, and art as healing – “Try, Hye!” (“Try, Armenian!”) is a narrative arc of VERA! being taught by different queer SouthWest Asian and North African (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. 

Journey into VERA!’s Performing Diaspora residency work, “Try, Hye (Armenian person),” and watch this hye try to learn Armenian and SWANA dances from queer diasporic SWANA teachers at Counterpulse. You will see: rehearsal BTS from day 1 and 2, VERA! trying to achieve the Armenian airplane arm lock with teacher Hrayr, getting whiplash from hairwhipping with Shady Bee, basking in the first ever Armenian drag queen and king rehearsal with Anoush Ellah, interwoven with live drag makeup application and testimonials, an original poem by Hrayr, and dad puns!

VERA! would like to send special love to their collaborators, all queer, SWANA, diasporic dancers/choreographers/artists. These include VERA!’s dear friend Hrayr, an Armenian dancer and community activist. They met via a drag queen mutual friend, so the Armenian drag king learning Armenian dancing from Hrayr is a true full circle moment. Speaking of full circle, VERA! is honored to dance with Anoush Ellah, Armenian Drag Queen and bellydancer. Anoush Ellah visited the Bay for the first time from Canada and VERA! and Anoush had the first ever Armenian king queen duet, to be followed by the second when Anoush RETURNS for “Try, Hye!” VERA! met Shady Bee, Iraqi Drag Queen and bellydancer, at Kousa party in Oakland and fell in love. Shady is definitely the shady teacher – “maybe put one hand in your hair to hide it.” VERA! is also honored to work with Basinah Raqs, Co-founder of Asheq Collective, the Queer SWANA bellydance collective, who they think of as the ultimate bellydancer in the Bay and BEYOND.  

The songs featured in the video and in the piece are some of VERA! and the teachers’ favorites. Nour el Ein by Amr Diab is the ultimate SWANA party song and, VERA! just found out, a favorite of their aunt. Tamzara by Aram .mp3 is a song about the very dance, the Tamzara, by VERA!’s favorite go-to Armenian singer and Eurovision sensation and hunk, Aram .mp3. ردح خالة و يا خالة by Sajida Obaid was a suggestion from Shady Bee, and VERA! can’t get enough. Menq Enq Mer Sarere (Heartbeat of My Land) by Inga & Anush is a song that VERA! and Anoush Ellah both love, also by a Eurovision sensation, that is a true diaspora anthem, saying that no matter where you are, you’re Armenia(n). 

This year’s ARC Performing Performances will be ​​Thursday – Saturday December 8-10 & 15-17, 2022. Tickets are available at counterpulse.org/performingdiaspora2022

Header photo by Vera Hannush.

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