Seeing bad art makes most people wish they’d stayed home with take-out and their Netflix subscription. But for D.A. Hoskins, shitty work is a creative raison d’être.
“Seeing things I don’t like can be the greatest motivator,” the Toronto-based choreographer says. “I see people trying to be cutting edge, but there’s no meaning behind the work. If you’re not investing yourself personally in what you’re making, what’s the point?”
Not only is his current work Paris 1994/Gallery deeply personal, it’s nearly 20 years in the making. Inspired by the long ago summer he spent with a lover in the French capital, it functions like a stroll though his memories from that time.
“It was an intensely inspiring period,” he recalls. “I spent most of my days in galleries looking at art. Looking back years later, led me to examine how memories sit in a being and what can be done with them creatively.”
Developed with his collective The Dietrich Group, the show melds dance with film and spoken word to function like a series of installations in a museum. Pairing long time collaborator Danielle Baskerville with up and comer Tyler Gledhill (last seen in the Chimera Project’s The Calm Before…
), the work employs one of his standard tricks; exploring gay relationships with a male female duet.
“I don’t know why I end up working with that dichotomy so frequently, but I find choreographically things just fall into place that way,” Hoskins says. “There’s an uber-hetero quality to the story, even though it’s based on a gay relationship. But I believe the expression of love is the same across gender lines so that doesn’t bother me.”
takes a softer tone than recent sexually charged works like 2011’s The Land of FUCK
. But when pressed, Hoskins begrudgingly admits there will be no shortage of flesh, with Gledhill “fully naked and dripping wet by the end of the show”; a sight well worth the price of admission alone.
“I’m not interested in titillation, even though I know that’s why some people will come,” he says. “As a gay man, sexuality and mortality are deeply connected, so nudity is as much an expression of life as it is about sex. I’ve felt a judgment on some of my work that’s been more sexually based. But that’s because people don’t see it for it’s full value.”
Though he’s been at it for well over two decades, Hoskins shows no signs of mellowing with age. Aware of his reputation as occasional curmudgeon (a lofty critic once called him “the grumpy old man of modern dance”) the challenges of maintaining a career with increasingly stiff competition for funding and audiences only seem to motivate him to stay in the game.
“People quit the arts all the time because it’s fucking hard,” he says. “I don’t expect things to get easier, but our community could do with a little more respect for what we’re doing.”
He pauses and laughs.
“Wow. I really sound like a bitch.”
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