Primarily engaged in reframing the Black, queer body as a site of active resistance to systemic violence rather than its passive recipient, Benji Hart’s solo performances overtly politicize Black art forms in both their historic and current contexts. Through spoken word and improvised movement, these works envision Black creative practice as a tool for simultaneously undoing oppressive structures, and imagining the liberatory ones that might one day take their place.
More detailed information about Benji’s on-stage work is listed below:
World After This One (Work In Progress)
Looking through the lenses of three Black art forms—the queer street style of vogue, the Afro-Boricua dance and drumming tradition of bomba, and gospel music—World After This One uses movement and spoken word to examine how Black people have historically reclaimed the materials of empire to construct portals to impossible futures. Blurring the lines between the secular and the sacred, celebration and mourning, the past and the yet-to-pass, World After This One imagines Black liberation not as a metaphor, but a possibility.
“World After This One collapses time, conjuring a liberated Black future by stirring up our artistic past. Through dance, Hart reveals what the body already knows of freedom. Through language, Hart restores our radical imaginations. Combined, they transform the impossible into a world we can begin to see, feel, and choose.”
– Kemi Alabi, author of Against Heaven, Academy of American Poets First Book Award Winner
“Hart demonstrates that channeling lineage isn’t linear, but a force and a transformation. In World After This One, Hart engages a Black diasporic dynamism sonically and visually with imagination and aptitude. Part movement, part incantation, and all wholeness, they answer to erasure with a blooming and concrete understanding of space. How bountiful this practice is beyond performance; Hart shows us what dream, reflection, and action can be, what they essentially have always been.”
– Kay Ulanday Barrett, author of More Than Organs, a Stonewall Honor Book
Dancer As Insurgent
Dancer As Insurgent explores the dance form of vogue as a tool for radical social transformation. Through spoken word and improvised movement, the piece traces the form’s roots back to its inception in Rikers Island prison, grounding it in a history of Black, queer struggle, and insisting that vogue is not only a source of individual empowerment, but a portal for revolutionary social and political reimaginings.
“[Hart’s] poses transcribe in the flesh a history of cultural struggle that goes all the way back to the 1920s and the first massive drag balls held during the Harlem Renaissance…Hart’s performance Dancer As Insurgent takes the form of a ritual invocation, channeling through verbal and bodily language a long history of resilience and survival, in which the body is revealed as a site of empowerment and collective action.”
– Manuel Segade, director of CA2M