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Università degli Studi di Padova

PHAIDRA – Digital collections

Interview with Trajal Harrell by Thomas F. DeFrantz

Interview with Trajal Harrell by Thomas F. DeFrantz


TRAJAL HARRELL's peripatetic life between Georgia (USA), Zurich and Athens (Greece) seems no different from his choreographic approach that melts dynamically very distant dance genres. Having studied closely with the legendary butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, his work over the last ten years has been based on the recreation of butoh’s original violence through the lens of voguing balls, fashion shows and postmodern dance. Excavating theoretically and historically the relationship between voguing and the queer body, breaking and reassembling lineages and continuities, he creates a postmodern pastiche that critically engages with the production of meaning in performance making. However, the interpretation of his work remains unseparated from the inherent politics of his black male body that follow him as a burden and as a gift. Finding himself at the end of a research cycle, Trajal is now ready to open a new chapter for digging into the possibilities and the politics of the weak body on stage.


[00:01:03] What is your first memory related to dance?
[00:02:25] How did your experiences at home shape your participation in dance?
[00:09:07] What is your primary research question as an artist?
[00:12:01] Who do you think of most when you remember your teachers?
[00:16:10] How did your college studies shape your interest in dance, theater and performance?
[00:21:12] How did you decide to make work that explores queer possibility?
[00:25:46] How do you think of beauty?
[00:28:08] How do you think of body?
[00:30:39] What is political about the works you make?
[00:34:23] What is political about memory?
[00:37:41] How do you remember your work?
[00:40:26] Are you interested in archiving and transmitting your work?


Harrell, Trajal (Interviewee)
DeFrantz, Thomas F. (Interviewer)


October 21, 2021


video/quicktime (489.93 MB PT42M13S)


• The Return of La Argentina, Dancer of the Year, Eiko & Koma (Eiko Otake and Takashi Koma Otake), Tatsumi Hijikata, Bell Hooks, Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ohno, Eli Subrack (Brasilian visual artist), T. Minh-ha Trinh, Athens (Greece), Florida, Georgia (USA), Judson Dance Theatre, San Francisco, Yale University, Zurich, Ballet, Ballroom scene, Butoh (violence in butoh), Fashion History, Gymnastics, Historical imagination, Postcolonial Feminist Theory, Postmodern dance, Postmodern theory, Queerness, Theatre, Voguing, Weak body

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