Prizm News / April 1, 2019 / By Prizm News

(Photo by Corey Melton)

Gregory A. King

Hometown: Kent
Identifies As: Gay
Pronouns: He/Him/His


When Gregory King was a grad student in Texas, he was asked to read the works of scholars who represented a very narrow range of cultural perspectives.

Now as an assistant professor of dance at Kent State University and artistic director of the Kent Dance Ensemble, he is making sure that he introduces his own students to a wider world.

“This is best part of my job,” he says. “I get to invite artists from incredibly diverse backgrounds whose aesthetics continue to implore audiences to question ways in which dance as an art form negotiates the idea of freedo while advocating for equity and global resistance.”

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When the Kent Dance Ensemble presents “Womentum,” a weekend of choreography and performance scheduled for April 5-7, for the first time at the university all of the spring concert’s works will have been created by choreographers of color.

What inspires you the most in yourwork?

Everything inspires me!

I am inspired by personal narratives, by lived experiences and embodied histories.

I am influenced by blackness, by queerness, by swag. I’m inspired by experimental dance legacies and the act of performing.

I’m inspired by humor and sadness, by rituals, rites of passage and
memories. I’m influenced by African art, by disruptive and questioning
art.

I’m inspired by art-making that has the capacity to be transformative.

I’m inspired by the inquisitive mind and the inquisitive body.

I’m inspired by being alive and by the realities of limitless
possibilities.

Currently, I am inspired by queer Nigerian-Swedish artist Mikael
Owunna,
whose latest work uses fluorescent body paint and ultraviolet light to “transform the pain of Black lives lost into portraits of magic embodied.” Pulling from his painful past, Owunna is able to illuminate fantasy, not only for his subjects but for the viewer.

What challenges have you faced as a queer man of color in the dance world?

Recently, I wrote an essay titled “(Re)Location Politics: Living at the Intersection of Blackness and Queerness,” where I spoke of moving to America from Jamaica.

I outlined an incident in Jamaica, an island called “the most homophobic
place on earth” by Time magazine in 2006, that contextualized my experience as queer man in Jamaica.

I spoke of my blackness being protected in Jamaica, whereas my queerness wasn’t. Upon moving to the United States, the reverse became my truth; my blackness was threatened, and my queerness was somewhat celebrated.

As I continue to navigate and negotiate the intersectionality of those terrains, I perform my blackness so it is legible to those who deem my Black body menacing, dangerous and killable.

I continue to experience the effects of a culture operating within the paradigms of oppression, and in the process, I’m learning and relearning the many facets of Gregory King.

One of Us is a monthly portrait celebrating the diversity of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community.