Brown Queer Bodies in Motion: Q&A with Corian Ellisor and Alex Abarca

PHOTO: Jamie Hopper

PHOTO: Jamie Hopper

WUSSY had the pleasure of interviewing Corian Ellisor and Alex Abarca, the curators of My People —a multimedia performance which explores identity in relationship with family (chosen and biological.) The two performers have been best friends and dance partners for many years.

Here’s a little background about these cuties:

Abarca was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of  University of Houston with a BA in Theater, with a concentration in dance. He later went on to receive his MFA from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and has a number of Atlanta performance credits under his belt  

Ellisor is also a Houston native/ UH grad, and has been dancing since the age of 13. He was also featured in Creative Loafing’s “20 People to Watch” in 2013 for his drag persona, Ellisorus Rex. Check out WUSSY’s 2017 interview with Corian for more titillating details Clicky-Click

Showtimes include Friday, November 9 and Saturday November 10 at 8pm and Sunday November 11 at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at Seven Stages, or HERE

Have either of you faced stigma or felt othered in the dance community as queer people of color?

Corian: Being black and queer, I am the other in every aspect of my life. It is no different in the world of dance. I am usually the only person of color in the room which can be exhausting, but I also have the opportunity to educate and offer different perspectives on life.

Alex:  I feel that the body is an inherently political thing when put on a stage to be witnessed. It is difficult to not be aware of my otherness simply by being a person of color because there aren’t many of us out there in the dance community. As far as being queer, there was one instance where someone remarked on how I moved/danced in a masculine way but I present (in real life) as “feminine.” I didn’t know how to receive that comment because I don’t view my movements/embodiment to be defined by masculine and feminine terms.

Why is having a chosen family so important in the queer community?

C: I have always been an outsider in my family. When my other cousins were playing outside, I was reading books and watching tv. As I got older, I wanted nothing more but to just fit in and be normal. It wasn’t until college that I found my tribe. I am thankful that I have a big queer family that loves all of my idiosyncrasies and encourages me to be me.

A: Having a chosen family, as a queer person, is important because we need to be reminded that we are loved and respected regardless of our orientation. Some of us have supportive biological families. Some of us don’t. Having a support system is necessary for all humans, but it is even more necessary for those of in our community that don’t have one.

How do you want people to feel when they walk out of your performance?

C: With all of my performances, I want people to leave and feel like they have witnessed a part of themselves in the work. My hope is to connect with people on a very human level and help them realize our similarities as inhabitants on this earth.

A: I want people to feel lots of things when they leave our performance.  More importantly, I want people to be leave wondering how do we support one another in a time where there is so much tension socially and politically.  Who are the people that hold you up? Who are the people that challenge you? And, what part do you play in that relationship?

PHOTO: Jamie Hopper

PHOTO: Jamie Hopper

Who are “Your People?”

C: In simple terms, “My People” are my family. It is where I come from. It is also the people have helped and continue to help mold me into the person I am.

A:  This is a great question. At first I wanted to say everyone—but that isn’t true. Then I started thinking about the people are definitely NOT my people (they shall remain nameless), and what I was left with were all the outliers: so I suppose my people are the people that do not have people of their own.

My biological people are pretty great.  They taught me what it means to try to be a loving and compassionate person to all.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where interracial marriage was something I grew up with, and all people were welcomed regardless of race, class, and orientation. I then learned the rest of the world didn’t grow up that way.  So early on I had moments of befriending and defending those that were not accepted by others.

Are you Voting?

C: Of course. All My People vote!

A: Without a doubt

If you could this performance was a dish, how would you describe it? Sweet, gooey, covered in sauce?

C: I would say this performance is like a vegetarian lasagna. It’s layered with some savory content. With each bite you will experience something different.

A: it would be hard to describe the dish in one meal. If it were one dish it would be one hell of a fusion dish that has almost everything:  sauce, texture, spice, sweetness, veggies, meat and leave you feeling fulfilled

Jay Norris is an Atlanta based writer and performer. He spends most nights slaying the dragon of depression with the flaming sword of comedy.