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Young, Queer, and tired: Das Biest dances at Seattle Center

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Photo courtesy of Das Biest
Photo courtesy of Das Biest

On March 25, performance art group Das Biest performed This Supply of Tomorrows at Seattle Center, on the Fisher Pavilion rooftop. It was an outdoors dance performance, free to the public, said to explore "topics of labor, work and rest centered in queerness," in a style similar to the group's original film.

The piece was performed and choreographed by Sophie Marie and Symone Sanz, with sound work by Otto Schatz. Marie is a dancer and writer, and the founder of Das Biest, whose work focuses on "fear, emotional mutilation, queerness, and the divine." Sanz is an experienced artist in performance, choreography, and improvisation, with an interest in dance through the lenses of anthropology and geology.

Marie has said that she and Sanz aren't afraid of making art that's "rough around the edges." So when a hollow, ominous rumbling came from the speaker setup at 7 p.m., I was ready. Schatz opened a food container, considered the burrito inside, and then closed it. A seagull cried. A girl in the crowd called for the bird to be quiet.

A few minutes later, a man crouched and murmured to the Seattle Center photographer, who started down the road toward the glass exhibit. Following them revealed the performance's true beginning.

Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

Marie and Sanz had started a good distance from the stage and speaker setup, making slow, synchronized movements in plain, white jumpsuits, between franchises, park benches, and other urban features. They'd halt in positions of rest made uneasy by strange axes and hard surfaces.

Photo by Daniel Lindsley  

I thought of the hostile architecture of cities as they moved, accompanied by the impromptu busking of jazz saxophone player. One of the beauties of performance art of this kind is the spontaneity of a less controlled environment; no two performances will be the same experience.

The low rumbling was ongoing as the performers reached the Fisher Pavilion rooftop. A projector there cast videos of tired people in dismal lighting onto a concrete wall. Marie and Sanz stood at opposite ends of the empty space and slowly made their way closer, mirroring their movements over a distance that felt vast under the cold, gray sky.

Like before, many of their movements were slow and mirrored, but at times they'd break away and dance faster, or join for dynamic pair movements, still maintaining a sense of heavy limbs or great weight on their shoulders. The performance concluded at the fall of dusk, in front of the projector, to applause from onlookers.

Marie said their movements were drafted during Zoom calls after work, when she and Sanz tried to capture how they were feeling at the time. They had hoped the piece would resonate with others, "especially fellow poor marginalized people, who work multiple jobs and feel the never-ending weight of both physical and emotional labor."

The sense of fatigue in their movements was oddly cathartic, I thought, and it aligned with the common refrains of a generation weighed down by debt, a stagnant economy, and toxic work culture.