Title text reads" "Meta-Queer Imaginings by Nicole Bradbury (she/her)"

I wrote the following movement scores and performative vignettes as a practice of coping with isolation and the loss of the physical immediacy of a queer community over the past year. This study resulted in (often fantastical) scenarios that melodramatically blur memory and longing for closeness in its many forms.

The “you” in some scores is “me”, but I write it as an offering for “you” to be with “me”.

HUddle

Two people begin embracing in a public space, chins melting onto the ridge of their partner’s shoulder. It seems as if they haven’t been able to meet for a long period of time. 

Many folks pass by ignoring the couple, but others gather and watch. After a while, a third person joins the embrace, a fourth, a fifth. Eventually the couple embracing turns into a mass of embracing, everyone on the street embracing, the whole city embracing… Participants can choose to join or leave as they wish. 

After hours, or days, or weeks, or months the group dissipates, leaving the original couple alone again. They exit together.

Paint a canyon with your body. Display it in a golden frame. Carry it around on the edge of your spine.

They say, “I don’t get it.”

You reply, “This is what it feels like now.”

Transfer

A figure enters and takes their place onstage. The spotlight finds them leaning against a white wall. 

They casually cross both arms. They stay that way for a while. They slither both hands into their pockets. They stay that way for a while. 

Taking their left hand out of their pocket, they look at it. It’s balled up tightly in a fist, shaking with tension. With a sigh, the tension releases. Their breath travels through the length of their arm, expanding their hand wide. As if they were waving to a friend, they raise the now open hand by their head. Their lips pull into a smirk.

Pushing off the wall, they walk into the audience deciding to forgo whatever dance was about to unfold. They plant themselves firmly in front of you. A spotlight finds the pair of you, fading the rest of the space into darkness again. You’ve been waiting to be close to them. They reach down and grab the microphone you’ve been protecting carefully for them. 

It brushes their lips. In a monotone they drawl, “I’m no longer longing for you”. Amplified by the microphone, their words ricochet off every surface in the theatre, and slice through your body.

Dragging the long chord of the mic with them, they begin to walk out of the theatre. The cord is plugged into your chest, and with a last taut pull, it rips out. You hear the door slam, and the lights dim.

Unplug

Nicole Bradbury, a white woman with long dark hair bends over while dancing with eyes closed and hair falling around her face. She wears all black.

The outstretched hands of the institution ask for a speech. As you step up to the podium, they light $120,000 on fire at your feet. Peering at the pages in your hands, the loops of your handwriting curve in false optimism. You rip the pages apart as small as possible, and toss them into the fire. 

Feeling the heat from the flames, you look up and say “I am finding it hard to believe you anymore.” 

The faces of the institution jump from their seats and break into raucous applause. Some hands reach lips, blowing kisses into the cavern between you and them. Running away from your flaming pyre, they shout, “Good luck!”

Due

You begin to feel yourself fading. It has been a while since someone has seen you with their eyes. The ghost of your body proves they are forgetting.

Write to a friend: I THINK I AM DISAPPEARING.  

Weeks pass. You stand at the mailbox with your arms stretched out, praying. This motion feels like you’re making something happen.

A response never arrives. 

In a last effort, you film yourself dancing. You do it with enough vigor so the world can tell you still exist. 

You decide to post the video. The comments flood in almost instantly, and say:

“I miss you” and “Beauty” and “You are a star” and “Yesssssss” and “Lovely” and “You are everything” and “Thank you” and “I’m obsessed with you” and “Brilliant” and “Yes, leg!” and ”I wish I could dance like you” and “Angel” and “Incredible” and “Crying” and “omg” and “You inspire me” and “I love you” and “I love you” and “I love you” and “I love you” and “I love you” and “I love you” and “I love you”.

The responses make you feel real for a while.

Filling

A theatre is full. Every seat is occupied. Audience members luxuriate in viewing the faces around them, leaning close to their seat mates, exchanging words in anticipation. 

One performer enters the bare stage, finds a spot to settle, and looks into the audience. They take a breath, visibly expanding their lungs as much as they can, entire body sinking on their exhale. 

The now attentive audience members mirror the performer’s breath. Like waves in a calm sea, the theatre repeatedly rises and falls. 

Expiration

Each night, they reach down your esophagus with a tattoo gun writing on your wet flesh, “Please be quiet.” 

Over time, holding words in your throat pushes them out elsewhere. You feel something waiting to emerge on the crests of your scapula. 

Tonight, at the first sound of the whizzing tattoo gun, you sprout your wings, crash through the window, and escape into the cool, navy sky. 

Aftercare

Traffic lights reflected in wet concrete flash red, then green, then yellow. Arms brush past each other, testing the waters. 

Leaving empty bottles to huddle on top of an overflowing city trash barrel, a doorway acts as a portal, and you exit the familiar rain soaked streets.

Yielding to darkness, you allow your body to be held by sound waves. Other faces join your sojourn, filling the atmosphere as vibrations. Their bodies roll and writhe with yours, and in that ritual you become kin for the night. 

You are enamored with this newfound intimacy. This public romance.

Eyes meet in platonic playfulness, the same kind of way a blood oath is made, your nymph siblings swimming in a disco sea. You are anointed somehow, queerly baptized.

The beat and your fluid systems all connect to the same hive. This world continues to blur, or maybe the world you desire has finally revealed itself. 

Time doesn’t pass here. Duration feels different when your pleasure isn’t questioned. 

A figure moves close and meets her mouth with yours for the first time, but it feels like “again.”

Nicole Bradbury, a white woman with long dark hair, dances in black pants, a black bra, and black blazers. She has one had bent at the elbow and looks to the ground.

Out