Backdropped by a rainbow of light, Taylor Stanley took to an empty Lincoln Center Plaza earlier this summer to perform a new solo choreographed Kyle Abraham. The piece, set to Erik Satie’s contemplative “Gnossienne No. 3,” begins with a turn of the head, as if the New York City Ballet principal dancer has just been spotted. Slowly, he raises his arms, echoing the “hands up, don’t shoot” gestures of protestors, and walks forward until he elongates his limbs. The movement, which clocks in under four minutes, unfurls through balletic phrases and jogging steps until Stanley is at rest again.
Titled “Ces noms que nous portons” (which translates to “These Names That We Bear”), the performance was captured June 30, at the tail-end of Pride month, and was borne out of an artistic collaboration between Stanley and Abraham. In a message attached to the video, the duo expressed that their bond was solidified after the much-lauded premiere of Abraham’s “The Runaway” for New York City Ballet in 2018.
Taylor Stanley in “Ces noms que nous portons” by Kyle Abraham. Photo: Chris Lee.
“There was a synergy of shared experiences and shared narratives,” Stanley and Abraham wrote in a joint statement. “And although our pathways and audiences may differ, we share a united sense of a weighted experience that holds our history and our art form alike.”
The artists elaborated that the collaboration “aims to aims to celebrate our queerness and our color in a way that hopefully stresses its importance, its fragility and its strength.”
“We dance, and create dances for those who have yet to see themselves on a stage,” they continued. “We dance, and create dances for our community and beyond. We dance, and create dances to nourish our souls. We make dances to reflect, to ask, to heal.”
Taylor Stanley in “Ces noms que nous portons” by Kyle Abraham. Photo: Zach Stoltzfus.
Besides the rhythmic cascade of water shooting up from the Plaza’s Revson Fountain, Stanley performs the solo without accompaniment. But from the eye contact at the beginning of the piece — suggestive of a recipient, unseen or not — to the names carried by the title of the work, the movement conveys a sense of continued connection.
“We want to honor the lives of those who we have lost due to the color of their skin or their identity,” Stanley and Abraham concluded in their message. “May they remain close to our hearts and at the forefront of our actions as we continue to create, reflect, and dance. For the both of us, we commemorate our history …. in PRIDE.”