The queer dance project tackling the big issues
Matthew Richardson is a dancer and acrobat who specialises in the circus art of Roue Cyr .
Richardson moved to Montreal to develop his circus skills, progressing from aerial performance into the spinning spectacular of the Roue Cyr.
His latest project is a series of videos exploring the queer experience. The first of these is Hallelujah.
I caught up with Richardson for a behind-the-scenes look at his video project.
You’re creating a series of videos tackling different aspects of the queer experience. You’ve started with religion – why was that an important subject for you to tackle?
I wanted to lead with a piece addressing religion for a few reasons. I think religion plays a huge part in why LGBTQ individuals feel so much rejection and discrimination from the world. So much of that comes from religious beliefs that we don’t belong here. I grew up in south Georgia. For me, this piece speaks my response to anyone who has used their religious beliefs as a weapon against others, to force others to fit their mould, or made someone feel bad about who they are.
The Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah is a powerful piece of music. What led you to choose this track to accompany this performance?
This song was my obvious choice, as soon as I knew I wanted to address religion. To me, the song has the perfect sense of irony, beauty and pain. It’s a mournful, powerful song that in my interpretation, speaks to exactly what I wanted to say. It’s about love and loss, the human experience. I knew as soon as the concept started to form in my mind, that this was the song I wanted to use.
The dancers featured are Guillaume Paquin and Arthur Morel Van Hyfte – what was your casting process?
These two guys are friends of mine. They are two of the most talented performers I know, and I approached them to do a project together before the concept for Hallelujah existed. I knew I wanted to work with them, and once they agreed, I started searching for ideas. This concept and idea was built with them specifically in mind.
What do you hope that people feel when watching this performance of Hallelujah?
I hope that those in the queer community will feel peace watching it. I hope that it will inspire and heal. And for those who are of a religious faith watching, I hope it inspires a reflection on how we should treat those who are different. I hope it inspires more kindness in the world.
What’s the next video in the series?
The next video is all about gender. Gender roles and expectations. It’s a visual metaphor for how the world conditions us to fit in the mould for what’s right for boys versus what’s right for girls. It focuses on the female perspective of someone who is gender non-binary and obviously not approved by the world. It’s going to be strong, dark and beautiful, and hopefully coming out sometime this Fall.