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Community Exercises for Sanctuary Spaces

February 28


Directed and Choreographed by Brendan Drake in collaboration with the performers

Featuring: Quentin Burley, Lena Engelstein, Shannon Nash and Calvin Tsang


Community Exercises for Sanctuary Spaces is an interdisciplinary work for five performers using movement, original text and sound to unearth how emulation and impersonation can function as a coping mechanism for navigating modern systems of gendered power dynamics and homophobia. Drawing explicit connections between the benediction of the blessed sacrement in Catholic Mass tradition, and the ritualistic nature that builds certain queer communities through mutual adulation for female icons and shared trauma, we show how the psychological understandings of how this type of fantasy and worship both helps and hinders the development of these social understandings. 


Along with an underlying focus on pop cultural icons, the work posits a number of questions on the nature of what we mean when we reference a “safe space.” Similarly, this work interrogates how the word “sanctuary” plays a role in rooting itself in safety, and how that differs vastly across various artistic communities. For example, we are thinking deeply on how the studio or the theater is often a sanctuary space for dancers, drawing similarities to nightclubs as a longtime sanctuary space for queer life. 


COMMUNITY EXERCISES FOR SANCTUARY SPACES is sponsored, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.  Additional development of COMMUNITY EXERCISES was made possible with support from The Floor, Danspace Project Draftwork Series, DanceNOW NYC and individual donors. 

*Presented as part of The Exponential Festival 2020 at Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation

Photo Credit for Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation photos – Whitney Brown
Photo Credit for St Marks Church photo – Shannon Nash


The Brick – 579 Metropolitan





All Dates/Times



February 28, 2020
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm


Brick Theater
579 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, 11211 United States
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