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Dipping into the Genealogy of Voguing’si Pedagogies.
Cuauhtémoc Peranda, MFA
Critical Dance Studies
University of California, Riverside
Voguing, a primarily improvisational form, requires the dancer to perform in kinesthetic
discourse with a Master of Ceremonies (MC) and the surrounding audience at the Ball.
Participatory in nature, all people present to voguing (in the Ball) have actions to do in
anticipation or reaction to the dancer’s improvisation. This paper investigates how new
codifications of voguing techniques are born or regulated, as voguing leaves that Ball space,
and is abstracted from its forming community. As non-ball participants learn to dance and
teach voguing, fears of an inauthentic practice percolates up for the traditionally Black and
Latino queer and transgender dancer-practitioners. The “5 Elements of Voguing”, which
mandates a dancer show their skills, at minimum, in doing “Hand Performance, Duckwalk,
Catwalk, Spins, and Dips”, provides a code of technique that enacts a level of protection for
voguing from its dilution. This required display maintains some sort grounding and control of
the combined techniques for improvisation, or new choreographies, that form voguing. This
paper finds that though older legendary dancers of voguing teach the children (novice dancers)
how to vogue, in turn, the children are the creative force who expand voguing by 1) creating
new sub-categories (version of voguing), or by 2) modifying the previous technique formats. If
authentic voguing is tied to a technique, which is constantly in evolution, then we must look to
the genealogy voguers as a living authenticity. As new generations of queer Black and Latino
youth and non-ball dancers vogue, there are new techniques of voguing born.
An Introduction to Vogue
In an old hall, filled with people from wall to wall, a runway, an open space, stays clear.
Leading to a large table, where the judges sit, this runway is the area for battles and
presentation of performance stills. In the Ballroom Scene, categories are decided months in
advance. Kinds of voguing, realness, labels, runway, body, and face categories are predetermined for competition, for prizes, and great cash reward.ii The bodies that line the runway
and fill the hall, are made of kinship networks, Houses, teams ready to compete for those grand
prizes. Each House sends their best competitor for the given category.
Upon the runway a Femme Queen steps, to the music of Ha, and with the commentator
(MC) edging her on, her dancing begins. She is running and gliding, catwalking, up and down
the runway, to the music--display of rhythmic mastery is essential. Hands in fury, she creates
circles and cubes in space with her elbows and fingertips. Hair whipping with her turns, she is
cheered on by the House of Revlon, for which she is the mother. The commentator asks and
demands she duckwalks and dips, and to the crash of music, she slows down, to a squat dance,
jumps into the air, and falls backwards into a death like elegant pose on the floor. But, she is
not done and the music is not over. For the judges and the Houses, to the music and the
commentator’s request, and with her body and dancing knowledge, she vogues and turns,
edging, demanding, enticing more energy, more movement. Mother Revlon vogues until the
commentator counts to three—and with a final pose and kiss, she ends her dance. A masterful
presentation of skill that precludes competition, warns of what could come for any challenger.
And for the dance scholar, watching this two-minute dance, questions arise, as to how in the
world she learned such fantastic abilities: voguing.iii
The dance is improvisational in nature. In the Ballroom Scene, voguing is not
choreographed, and choreographies are not shared, taught, or instructed. Rather, movement
inspirational ideas, images, “elements”, are expressed by more experienced or legendary
dancers, and younger novice dancers learn the elements, and compose (arrange, sequence) these
elements in the moment of performing voguing. One could say then that there is a certain
voguing technique, which is produced in the moment of performance. This voguing technique
pulls from the African American diasporic dance traditions of improvisation: always dancing
with a goal in mind, to time and space, with people, in music, repeating, riffing, vamping,
breaking, composing with known ideas, in known patters, with certain logic, and allowing
room for spontaneity.iv It is not randomized chaotic free style movement, but contained in
movement choices, limits, elements, and conversations. Whether in a battle between two
voguers, or a presentation of skills by one voguer, there is a kinesthetic conversation of energy.
There is a language beyond words, buried in sweat, breath, sound and sight. As the voguer
moves, and creates their dance, the voguer speak to the audience (Houses and judges), and with
the Commentator. The three bodies, the three energies, pushing for greater, more thrilling
dancing—all three in improvisation, reacting to each other words, motions, or yells—a
paralinguistic conversation. Fluency in this Triangulated Synchronous Conversation seems to be
key, if not the goal of the voguer. To move with the hall, on the music is the ideal form of
voguing of the Ballroom Scene.
Though voguing may have an ideal performance, if not technique or aesthetic, as
voguing’s practice expands, its ideal self is not always realized. As voguing is taught to new
dancers, two forms come forth: 1) one that is within the Ballroom Scene culture and 2) one that
is made for the studio/pop music culture and entertainment. The voguing that retains its
ontology in the Ballroom Scene is the one that must be investigated, in order to review and
understand how voguing is taught, and what its priorities are. More, as a dance within a
subculture of resistance to the macro Untied States culture, and in defiance of
homonormativiationv, voguing may provide us new ways to think of and understand
pedagogy—as voguing shows us how one learns and passes on oral/kinesthetic technique
traditions. On the other hand, the voguing that is made for the studio, for entertainment, is a
dance that has taken the choreography of voguing, and left its corporeography.vi It has taken
the movements, seen in balls, and on YouTube.com, Instagram.com, or Facebook.com, and
turned those movements into vocabulary to compose into repeatable dance works for stage,
classes, or for music videos. This second dance form of voguing follows a very traditionally
academic pedagogy of dance—you strengthen the body, you enhance its ability to process
polyrhythmic and multispatial coordination, and you teach repeatable movement phrases.vii
This pedagogy is not new, and is not different. Which, in turn, makes the Ballroom Scene
voguing’s pedagogy all the more interesting in its mystery.
There is a great fear that voguing is beginning to be diluted. As Legendary Amazon
Leiomy accounts in conversation with Eric Shorey, after Madonna brought voguing to pop
music, and Jennie Livingston produced the documentary Paris is Burning, “the ballroom
[scene] (where dancers battle for glory) understandably had to protect itself from
overexposure and infiltration from outsiders and cultural vultures”.viii Though Legendary
Amazon Leiomy wishes for the “ballroom scene to take off, to go mainstream”ix, she and other
stars of the Ballroom Scene are careful to note the rules and protocols of the culture—they are
protective of its unique ontology. The Ballroom stars are resistant to complete openness and
sharing of voguing.
There is a split between voguing for consumption of mainstream dance and
entertainment, and voguing for the ball. A split such as this, seems to orient itself around
questions of authenticity and appropriation—with Ballroom Scene’s voguing seen to be more
authentic than studio-entertainment voguing, which is often seen to be an appropriation of
But what is authentic voguing? Can it be taught? Is it the triangulated synchronous
conversation and the 5 elements of voguing, and that’s it? Or is voguing or something else too,
Where to Look for Authentic Voguing?
It may be that voguing’s authenticity is locked in its formative genealogy. As voguing
in the Ballroom scene acquires new dancers, the dance form itself expands, and all sorts of new
sub-categories of voguing, or sub-technique of voguing emerge. Voguing’s variations include:
Vogue Femme Queen, Vogue New Way, Vogue Old Way, Vogue Butch Queen, Performance
with Prop, Vogue Rubberbandman, Vogue Dramatics, Vogue Soft N Cunty, Vogue
Performance, Catsuit Vogue, Butch Queen with a Twist Vogue, and the list goes on as new
bodies vogue, and new forms of voguing develop. Legendary Amazon Leiomy states this is
because in voguing, you learn the 5 elements, and then “it’s all about your own emotions”, you
just dance.x With more people dancing vogue, and finding similar styles, voguers cluster and
create the sub-categories of voguing—with none more authentic than the other. Though Vogue
Old Way may be one of the first subcategory of vogue, it is considered no more authentic than
the newer Vogue Femme Queen. The unification of authenticity is their commonality of
improvisation—in their need to be performed in the Ball, where the triangulated synchronous
conversation can take place. But more, voguing’s authenticity is also present in its practice—or
more specifically, how it is taught and shared. Thus philosophies, practice, tricks, praxis, and
clusters of corporeal embodiment of voguing demonstrate voguing authenticity beyond its
choreographies. The collection of voguers, the clusters of dancers, the congregate of
corporealities, are what makes voguing authentic—but voguing ontology is more than just
choosing of dancer to be initiated into voguing, one must also learn the dynamics of its practice.
In order to interrogate voguing’s authenticity, that which could be lost by
overexposure, this paper has broken down voguing’s practice in a few philosophies that
contribute to its teaching, learning, and practice. These ideas of what makes authentic, are
important to its growth and diversification. Voguing should grow, spread and change, but it
should also be anchored, and its commonalities between sub-techniques maintained. More
importantly, the philosophies behind voguing make up the “theories in the flesh”xi that cannot
be translated or transferred, but may be followed, as pedagogies, to keep intact voguing’s
Butch Queen with a Twist Vogue
Starting with the Butch Queen gender of the Ball, and its Twist in its voguing, is a great
place to start an examination of both voguing’s ontology, and its pedagogy. It is this form of
voguing, which is one of the newest versions coming into practice around 2008, which
demonstrates a protocol relating to voguing’s dualism and disidentification. In teaching Butch
Queen with a Twist voguing, one not only learns a technique, but a philosophy of expansive
To start, Butch Queen with a Twist voguing is a combination of dancing Old Way
Vogue (sometimes called Butch Queen Vogue), and Femme Queen Vogue. The voguer must be
able to dance Butch Queen Vogue, and twist it, changing to Femme Queen voguing without
hesitation. Coming out of the 1960’s, Butch Queen Vogue is a technique that is based out the
more masculine voguing of Gay or Bisexual masculine men, Butch Queensxii—but this doesn’t
mean they are without their own kind of femininity. This voguing is often characterized with
moving at a half-time tempo, having hard lines, demonstrating extensive athletic poses, using
direct stagnation and angular shapes. It is a warrior dance; reminiscent of old kung fu or hip
hop posters in combination with male fashion poses. With less fluidity than other voguing
forms, Butch Queen vogue looks like a sequence of ever evolving and transforming poses.
Femme Queen Vogue, on the other hand, coming out of the late 1990’s, is very fluid. Based out
of the Femme Queen gender, (which is a male to female transgender feminine woman, not
without her masculine traits and powerxiii), it is a dance that plays on the duality of femininity.
A woman can be strong, she can be fierce, but she can also be soft, and she can delicate. Playing
between strong delicacy and fierce softness, between the axioms of qualities, is the Femme
Queen’s voguing aesthetic. Characterize as both hard and fluid, the Femme Queen vogue moves
between poses at tempo or double time, uses ornate poses of the body extending from the core
through the fingertips, whips her hair, accentuates her female body, and spins and swirls in and
out of the floor. Most exquisitely, the Femme Queen vogue marks her technique with he dip
(death drop) as the break in any sequence—a kinesthetic exclamation mark of its paralinguistic
dance sentence. The Butch Queen with a Twist voguer must be able to dance these two
techniques with fluency.
Between two forms of femininity-masculinity, between Femme Queen Vogue and Butch
Queen Vogue, the voguer lives a corporeal dualism. Yet, this dualism is not between male and
female, but between Femme Queen and Butch Queen: the voguer is dancing the corporeality,
the embodied knowledge and experience of a gay or bisexual male and a Transgender woman.
Already in dualism, gay-ness has its own qualities, sense of femininity and masculinity. Already
in dualism, transgender-ness has its own qualities, sense of femininity and masculinity. So
Butch Queen with a Twist Vogue then has four senses of gender. The voguer, then, lives
beyond a double consciousness of gender, to a quadruple consciousness. W.E.B. Du Bois
concept of double consciousness works well as an analytical lens in examining Black bodies in a
white world, and extended to gender for these Black and Latin@ Ballroom Scene artist it also
works a lens which can be layered or accumulative. Du Bois defines double consciousness as
“this sense of always looking at one’s self thought the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by
the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity”.xiv The Butch Queen, who
dances Butch Queen Vogue with a Twist, understands his Butch Queen double consciousness—
he understands his love of his truth, his gayness and quareness, and how he is perceived as
unnatural to the macro culture. And, what he must also understand, with his twist in his vogue,
is how the Femme Queen as a transgender woman lives her double consciousness—how she
moves and expresses her truth, and how that truth is constantly under persecution (to death)
by the macro culture.xv The quadruple consciousness is a quality of Butch Queen with a Twist
Vogue, but more, it points to a pedagogy of voguing.
Voguing Butch Queen with a Twist is not limited to the movements, the choreographies
of the two styles, but extended into quadruple consciousness, to corporeal quadrupling. So in
learning how to dance this vogue, one must see, feel, think, and dance in quadruple inspiration.
Though the 5 elements of voguing remain the same in any sub-category of voguing, its quality
of movements, its triangulated synchronous conversation syntax changes per technique. The
voguer’s mind must be prepared to improvise with emotions and consciousness in resonance
with the genders they vogue. Though the dance is improvisation, and free form to the voguer
who dances, the technique is anchored in the double consciousness of the genders. And it is this
kind of understanding of improvisation, and how it must be taught, which points to voguing’s
In voguing, one does not learn choreographies, instead one learn consciousness,
corporealities. It could be said, then, that voguing is a dance based not in movement, systems of
movements: choreographies, but rather, voguing is based in systems of being, systems of
consciousness that drip or sublime experience into kinetic sculptures: corporeographies. Once a
person acquires the coporeography of vogue and its many sub-categories (or subcorporeographies), then dancer then is able to produce movements, choreographies of voguing.
And, it is this process that is voguing’s inverse pedagogy.
While other, more western dance forms train for mobility, and coordination of certain
steps and choreographiesxvi, voguing trains its dancers how to do the 5 elements of voguing,
basic movement ideas that are manipulated and composed into choreographies from
corporeographies. These corporealities of the genders of the ball, the Femme Queens, Butch
Queens, Females, Trades, Butch Queen up in Drags, and Butches then become very important.
Socialization and the kinship of the Houses of the Ballroom Scene, then become the technique
and method of transmission of lived experience to one another. Socialization and family
bonding in the House is the pedagogy of corporeographically transferring knowledge and
experience between bodies. It is this communitasxvii that works in inversion to more
traditionally academic forms of dance. Instead of adding a soul to dance after learning steps, the
steps of the dance follows the souls of the collectivity of dancers, of the Houses. Thus, voguing
must be seen as a community dance, a dance which represents its commute kinetically, a dance
which is a display of the discursive experiences of the Ballroom Scene.
Another aspect of voguing that pushes the pedagogical further than instruction, but still
within its ontology, is voguing’s inverse relationship-philosophy to economics. Here, the Butch
Queen up in Drags Vogue Femme is extremely important as a critique of capital. As an
example, I will use Legendary Overall Mother Peppa Labeija of the House of Labeija, from
Paris is Burning, to demonstrate this aspect of voguing. Peppa Labeija is a Butch Queen, who
dresses as a woman, therefore in drag, and dances as a Femme Queen. Her dancing points to
not only understanding the corporeality of a Femme Queen, but also their critique on society.
As Roderick Ferguson points out the “queer of color critique [is] one site that compels
identification with antagonism to the normative ideals promoted by the state and capital”—
which this paper pushes further.xviii The Butch Queen up in Drags gender is a lived critique of
the state and capital. Often, the Butch Queen up in Drags is a person who defies gender norms,
in drag, who defines the confines of blackness as obedient to whiteness in the macro culture,
and often defies respectable income as she participates in sex work. Her validity of life
invalidates the macro culture’s control of lives. She defies regulation, and in her existence, is the
challenge to normative macro culture society. More she does not exist and work to pay for her
individual life and self, but for her adopted children of her House of Labeija, providing time and
money to her children of the House, thus earning her name: Mother.
When Peppa Labeija vogues, her movement speaks to a life based on the capital of
family, and use of the flesh and drag as sustaining income. The body, the corpus, is then an
accumulation of business—its sex work and family work inscribed in the consciousness of the
Butch Queen up in Drags. Rather than following a respectable blackness, or normative gender
expression, and a possessing a job that can sustain a biological nuclear family and her body’s
nourishment, Peppa Labeija works in inverse to this, in resistance to this. Peppa Labeija’s body
nourishes others as her job, which sustains the ball—all the while disidentifying with blackness
and sexuality. And, when she vogues, she dances this, her life, her truth.
Legendary Over Mother Peppa Labeija vogues her truth, her consciousness. Her
movements come from her unique experiences as black man who dresses and acts like a woman,
selling her sex beside transgender women, and providing for her House family as a mother. It is
this inverse relationship to income, this sacrifice for the Ballroom Scene, that has shaped
voguing to what it is. Rather than selling choreographies, movements and experiences are
shared, the corpus is marked, and corporeographies emerge. This corporeal sacrifice for the ball
marks voguing as not a dance made for entertainment, but out of the sex work and lives of
those who entertain. And so to sell voguing in mass media markets, outside of the Ballroom
Scene, for which many mothers have sacrificed, becomes new and dangerously exploitive if
Inverse Drag & Corporeal Accumulation.
Looking at Dr. Naomi Bragin’s work, this paper finds it useful to respond to how she
defines corporal drag:
A process of queer play in which performers try on and refashion movement as
sensory-kinesthetic material for experiencing and presenting the body anew.
Corporeal drag centers material effects of movement, as well as societal and
structural processes that control terms and consequences of movement playxix.
Dr. Bragin proposes movement is a material thing, which can be worn, like a vestiture, which
has visceral effects of kinesthetic knowledge. Taking from Marcel Mauss, this, or any
corporeal practice is a form of knowledge.xx Bragin finds materiality in knowledge.
In observing her use of drag, though I understand her materialization of movement to
something that can be worn, I extremely disagree with this certain queering practice logic
when used for voguing. Though I can understand the highly gendered bodies and movement of
ballet techniques to be queered (dragged) when bodies dance their opposite sex-role
movementsxxi, I do not think this queer practice is relevant to voguing. Using voguing’s
ontology, I do not think bodies and their kinesthetic knowledge can be traded and worn.
Voguing operates from and internal corporeal accumulation of movements, not a flipping of
outside societal roles. More, I reject the notion of fungible bodies—they cannot, and should not
be understood as material vestiture to be traded and wornxxii.
When referring to “corporeal drag”, Dr. Bragin writes on voguing and
waacking/punkin’, both gay and queer Black dance forms. Though I cannot, fully speak to
waacking, I can say, that in voguing, the dance, cannot and is not drag—but rather has an inverse
relationship to it. In agreement with Legendary Amazon Leiomy, voguing is a process of selfsearching and self-creation. Voguing is a process of showing the unseen, the masculinity behind
and embedded in femininity, or the femininity behind and embedded in masculinity, that has
always-already been continued in a body, and continues to accumulate through one’s life’s
journey. This is the idea that the dyad of cross-dress points to something more whole,
something often misrecognized, which is that everyone has both femininity and masculinity
Voguing brings out this other kind of queer aesthetic, which is realness: “not a static
concept—anymore than race, sexuality, or identity is static”xxiii, a sort of “passing
performance…[where] one who passes does not “erase” the mark of difference, rather the
passer highlights the invisibility of the mark of the Same”xxiv. Realness is an understanding that
the passer and the other are always-already embodied, present. Given that logic, one cannot
learn to be masculine, without also learning how to be feminine.
With the above stated, voguing is not be a drag process for its practitioners. Yet, what
Dr. Bragin stated must further addressed. She claims in her study that when outsiders from the
Ballroom Scene learn voguing or waacking, their learning of movements may be a queer
practice of drag for them. She provides the observation of White women studio dancers
learning waacking, and stating that waacking taught them “how to be a woman”xxv. Femininity
and woman-ness is felt by these outsider dancers in their waacking, but because this waacking
comes from Black males, perhaps the women are wearing the drag of the Black male body;
Black male bodies who are wearing the drag of women, though waackingxxvi. But, from what
this paper has developed in its argument for expanded consciousness and corporeography, it
follows reason to see what the White women felt was not a drag, but a process of accumulation.
The White woman took from waacking another kind of femininity—a femininity that had been
processed through the Black queer male body, which had processed the femininity of White,
Black, and Latina womenxxvii. The White women did not feel the drag of woman-ness, but an
additional type of woman-ness, which was added to their own. It is a woman-ness tinted by of
the masculine-feminine spectrum of the people of color dancers of waacking.
Bragin used drag to explain how the transferring of movement information from one
body to another can be seen as a drag, if and when the movements are gendered, inverted, and
believed to be as material as vestiture. While this may be a great optic by which to analyze
dance in general, voguing and waacking stem from a radical non-conformity of gender
accumulation ideologies: a different logic of gender to movements-dancing pathwayxxviii.
Voguing is not a dance of drag, it does not operate as drag dance, but rather voguing can be a
dance of those who do drag. This is voguing’s inverse relationship to drag, rather than a
reversal. Voguing flips drag to be accumulative in corporealities, rather than fungible.
In order to learn voguing, one does not go to a dance studio, to learn dance steps from
a teacher. A vogue teacher does not teach you steps beyond the movement ideas of the 5
elements of vogue. Instead, the Legendary voguers teach you about themselves, and bring you
into the House to learn about their families. Voguers share their corporealities. It is on the
novice voguer to improvise and compose movements based out of their own corporeality, in
conversation, in socialization, with the Houses. Thus, voguing is based in a kinesthetic kinship
of the Ballroom Scene, not out of certain moves. The language is of flesh and life, not out of
beautiful sequences and technical codifications. This follows Susan Sontag’s 1987 musing from
the “dancer and the dance”: “Dance cannot exist without dance design: choreography. But dance
is the dancer”.xxix Voguing is held within the corpus of its dancer, and in their dancing, they
produce choreographies, structures, sequences, phrases, riffs, vamps, and breaks. Voguing and
the voguer are inseparable.
But what of voguing’s split into entertainment? It is dire in importance that voguing
remembers its corporealities, and that the choreographies of voguing pay homage to its
histories. More, in order to better understand voguing, a genealogy of bodies/voguers and
Houses should be catalogued a way to record the sources of the vogue we dance today. The
vogue itself is not solely an improvisation of 5 elements, but a conversations of bodies and
Houses present and past.
This is how we learn the kids. This is how the kids enter the conversation of voguing:
learn voguing. As the kids, novice dancers, learn voguing, the legendaries expand their voguing
capacities, as new forms of the dance come into being from the children. The kids, then, teach
the teachers. This inverse relationship of teacher to student, is not unidirectional or bilateral,
but a synchronous conversation ever expanding. In voguing, one does not learn steps, but
enters a kinesthetic conversation, which prepares them for the ball. Voguing teachings are
layered with kinesthetic paralinguistic text and subtext, which are not reducible to
choreography. Voguing teaches us there are real bodies and families to every movement we
dance. Voguing teaches us, we are never alone in our dancing.
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Jonathan David Jackson, “Voguing”, “Vogue”, “Performance”, and “Presentation” are all names for the
same dance category of the Ballroom Scene. There is an extensive array of sub-categories, which this
article will articulate: 1.
ii Jonathan David Jackson, in “The Social World of voguing”, describes the larger domain categories of
performance that exist in the ball other than voguing: 31.
iii At Where is the Love Ball, in Oakland, CA, (2009), I was lucky enough to see Mother Revlon vogue and
perform at this Ball. She was walking Femme Queen Vogue Femme.
iv Jonathan David Jackson, argues in “Improvisation in African American Vernacular Dancing”, that
there are three main ways African American dance is composed in improvisation. There is the vamp,
which is an improvised phrase that serves as an introduction and sets up the tone for repetition or
overture of the dancing. The riff is the part of the vamp that is repeated, and if not also stylized in a
new way. And the Break serves as an interruption, pause or introduction of a change to a new vamp: 4445.
v Beyond what Roderick A. Ferguson, in Aberrations in Black, identifies as the heteronormative
hegemony that rules the sex and gender expression regulations of the macro white culture, exist a
nonheteronormative resistance culture on African Americans. Due to their placement under the white
hegemony, their way of life both serves and disrupts heteronormative sexual and family practices. And,
beyond that, there exist homonormativization—which is the mostly rich white male hegemony’s
cultural protocols that both resist heteronormativity, yet enacts suppression of freedoms to queer people
of color: 23-29.
vi I am using this word, corporeography, to indicate a kind of embodiment, or trance level of dancing,
which stems from the body, not musical phrases. Here, choreography is defined as a movement system
that arranges dance movements into a composition or phrase. Corporeography, on the other hand,
works through improvisation, and is not a fully conscious process of arranging dance steps into a
phrase, but the dancer moves from their sense, emotions, feelings, and in the moment compose dance
movements. While choreography is the arrangement of movements for the body to dance,
coporeography acknowledges the arrangement of the body to produce movements.
vii Raquel L. Monroe, in “I Don’t want to do African…What about my Technique?”, describes how
training in the university is treated differently per technique and style of dance. While some dance
forms are given priority (such as ballet, modern, jazz), other forms of dance are seen as extra, or
additional styles not worthy for priority (such as Hip Hop, West African Dance). But, what these
techniques have in common is that they are from dance studios, and they are taught in intuitions, which
teach techniques, movements, and choreographies to students for students to perform. The students
don’t teach the teachers, and the students are not always taught improvisational based dancing.
viii Eric Shorey, “Leiomy Maldonado Is The Wonder Woman of Vogue”.
xi Cherrie Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back, “Introduction” –theory of the flesh can be thought of
“that deep place of knowledge”, that endless reservoir of pain and happiness, of experiences locked in the
memories attached to the nervous system of the skin, bone, and flesh. Moraga claims that there is
knowledge and valuable valid wisdom locked in the bodies of the people who live with us: xliii.
xii Marlon M. Bailey, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: “The Butch queen identity or gay man is a normative
category in the Ballroom, just as Black gay men dominate the larger Black LGBT community”: 43.
xiii The Femininity and Masculinity of the Femme Queens gender highly contested issue, borderlining
transphobia, and transmisogyny. Some Ballroom Scene children believe Femme Queens to be the
ultimate symbol of feminine perfection, complete and whole woman-ness. Others, believe that the
Femme Queen is not an adequate woman, for she was not born a woman, and posses too much
masculine musculature, bone structure, and status. And others, see the Femme Queen as outside the
male or female gender binary, possessing a masculinity or femininity all her own.
xiv Lisa Marie Cacho, Social Death: 10.
Eric Shorey, “Leiomy Maldonado Is The Wonder Woman of Vogue”. Legendary Amazon Leiomy
states: “As far as the movement for transgender rights foes, plenty of work is left to be done: “The main
thing we should be focusing on is respecting trans people. That’s not happening. Even from [within]
the LGBT community: we get misgendered, treated differently. They look down on us. They take us as
a joke within themselves. And if the public sees the LGBT community disrespecting us they feel like it’s
OK for them to do it too… At the end of the day trans people are getting killed left and right. And it’s
not because of what they do with their lives, it’s because they’re living their truth”.
xvi Claudia Brazzale, “(Un)covering ground: dance, space and mobility”: 114.
xvii Harry J. Elam, writes in Taking It To The Streets: “Victor Turner argue that, the more a group
consciously identifies itself as a group or community, the more likely communitas would be manifested in
the social interaction of that group. The term communitas, appropriated from the ritual theories of
Turner, refers to a form of social interrelatedness and interconnectedness. The feeling of communitas is
unstructured, spontaneous, and immediate. It is ephemeral and can seldom be sustained for a long time.
When people experience communitas they discover a “flash of mutual understating”, profound
illumination, and “intersubjective communication”.”: 114-115.
xviii Roderick Ferguson, Aberrations in Black: 3.
xix Naomi Bragin, “Techniques of black male re/dress”: 2.
xx Naomi Bragin takes from Carrie Noland’s 2009 work on Agency and Embodiment: Performing Gestures,
Producing Culture, that Marcel Mauss “realizes that in the corporeal practices of yoga the belief is lived
on the order of the body –as a form of consciousness”: 3. Here Bragin support her claim via Mauss’
work, that actions or technique that are done by the body, transform and live inside the body who does
it action. Marcel Mauss extend this claim, in his “Techniques of the Body”, that “we are everywhere
faced with physio-psycho-sociological assemblages of series of actions”:85, which are not limited to
dance, but can include any action we learn or do as we live. So with Mauss, I do agree with Bragin that
there is materiality in actions, which is added to our bodied, however, I claim a limitation to how this
materiality is given or received.
xxi Susan Leigh Foster, in “The Ballerinas Phallic Point”, in Corporealities, states that ballet dancers holds
“distinctly gendered behavior, [and] dance out a specific kind of relationship between masculine and
feminine”: 1, which are absolutely attached to their sexual assignment phenotypes. To do the reverse,
would be unnatural to ballet—it would be a queering of ballet, or further, a drag of ballet’s sex-role
xxii Fungibility is especially grotesque when it comes to Black bodies. Especially since Black bodies,
along with Latino/Indigenous bodies are voguing’s primary practitioners. Voguing’s Black bodies have
too long history of pain, suffering and fungibility in the United States, to allow a notion of wear-ability
to take place or persist. For more on the history of the fungible Black bodies, please see Saidiya V.
Hartman, Scenes of Subjugation: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America: 51.
xxiii Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: 99.
xxiv Ibid: 96.
xxv Naomi Bragin, “Techniques of black male re/dress”: 5.
xxvi This, of course, follows the logic of Naomi Bragin’s Corporeal Drag” in “Techniques of black male
re/dress: corporeal drag and kinesthetic politics in the rebirth of Waacking/Punkin’”.
xxvii In E. Patrick Johnson’s ““Quare” Studies, or (almost) Everything I Know About Queer Studies I
Learned from My Grandmother”, he makes a claim that one’s queerness, femininity, or masculinity—
one’s affect—is intersectional. Thus, our ways of performing ourselves is tinted and filtered by those
intersectional bodies who taught us how to communicate with other humans. Though Naomi Bragin
supports waacking’s ability to give the White women a sense that they can feel more like a woman
through dancing, with a Quare perspective and critique, I believe the women are experiencing new
intersectional femininities, which are always-already related to their quotidian female performances, and
embedded in their corpus.
Though we do not agree on the label of drag, there is something powerful to the gender play of
voguing and waacking. Naomi Bragin, on page seven of her article, tries to make sense of it by stating:
Corporeal Drag can then be, under certain conditions, a queering praxis—defined as a power to create
critical distance from hegemonic normativization through repeated application of movement techniques.
A Waacker may shift how kinesthesia relates to consciousness of her sexuality as a process of social
identification. Newtown suggests, as Bragin echos, that drag, in its play with the dyad of gender,
destabilizes the roles, but also creates its own aesthetic. The action of dragging movements then has
power to create its own space, identities, and caricature. But, I don’t think corporeal drag is a wholly
appropriate here as a metaphor for body movement sharing and creation when place upon the logos of
waacking and voguing. I feel much more at ease with the idea of corporeal accumulation to explain the
embedded queering process that the dance forms have in creating critical distance from hegemonic
normativization. For voguing, in its conception ontology, always-already resist hegemonic
normativization, and its process of corporeal accumulation illuminates this aspect of voguing.
xxix Sontag, Susan. 1987. “Dancer and the Dance.” London Review of Books. February 5: 9-10