In fall of 2023, RAWdance was in residence at Jackson Square’s 836M Gallery for the creation and performance of Loving Still, a new evening-length dance work by Co-Artistic Directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein. Developed through a public rehearsal process, the work featured a cast of 8 dancers in a series of duets of men in love. Each duet was inspired by photographs in LOVING: A PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY OF MEN IN LOVE, 1850S -1950S, a book by Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell featuring more than 300 previously unpublished photos representing what was once considered “forbidden love.”
Courtesy of the Nini-Treadwell Collection/LOVING, selected photos from the book were reproduced in large format and displayed in the gallery throughout the two-month residency. The images’ subjects illustrate a cross-section of society over a span of approximately 100 years, from members of the military to the heirs of high society.
Drawing connections to the neighborhood’s roots, the company also used this project to excavate and highlight the queer history of the historic Jackson Square area where 836M is located. Before each performance, the audience was encouraged to join Shawn Sprockett for a free, special tour of forgotten venues in the area surrounding 836M. This abbreviated 30-minute version of his celebrated Unspeakable Vice tour unearthing Jackson Square’s lost queer history, laid the groundwork for the historically-rooted duets in Loving Still.
836M is a nonprofit arts organization with gallery space in San Francisco. Its mission is to ignite people’s hearts and minds through live artistic and cultural experiences. 836M’s programming includes gallery exhibitions, documentary screenings and events beyond its walls, including public spaces in San Francisco and the Bay Area. 836M assembles content inspired by the art world and other fields, including science, technology and sociology. 836M is a partner organization of NextWorld, a global organization combining investments and philanthropic activities, with a common purpose of managing capital to benefit future generations.
For more information about 836M and its programming, visit 836M.ORG
For further information or to inquire about touring, please contact RAW@RAWDANCE.ORG
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Robbie Sweeny & Jim Watkins Photography