Awkward, Amusing Dance of Sitting In and Falling in Love

Pasulka3Nicole Pasulka A recent dress rehearsal.

While developing “Micro-Mini Maxi Mystery Theater: En Total,” Jessica Dellecave asked the five dancers in the cast to recall their most embarrassing protest moments. With their help, she created a show that explores the often cringe-inducing intersection between activist fervor and queer young love.

The work, premiering tomorrow tonight at Dixon Place, grew out of three 10- to 15-minute studies the playwright, who goes by J. Dellecave, wrote between 1999 and 2010: one was about her experiences as a young, queer activist in the late ’90s, another about her frustrations with activism in 2005, and the other dealing with her mixed feelings about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In a controlled frenzy, Ms. Dellecave and her “pod” of dancers travel to space, find love at the protest march, and belt out Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Ms. Dellecave humps the floor in a pink mini skirt while delivering a monologue on love and activism. “Isn’t this romantic, going out in the street and smashing the state?” she asks.

It’s not romantic at all, but it is familiar. Like love, first experiences of activism can be both nostalgic and awkward to remember ten years, or even ten hours, later. Ms. Dellecave, whose full first name is Jessica, pokes fun at her history as a queer activist and, in doing so, pushes audiences to examine their own experiences.

“I valorize the early ’90s as the time when activism was most successful,” Ms. Dellecave said after a run-through at a Williamsburg rehearsal space. “I went to college, became queer, so everything in the early 90s was like — whoa. But I was more [politically] active in the late ’90s and early 2000s.”

Pasulka2(1)Nicole Pasulka

In the ’90s, Ms. Dellecave performed at queer cabaret fundraisers for AIDS organizations in Philadelphia. Still, she was becoming jaded and burnt out. Through humor and exaggerated earnestness, the show represents the moments when protesters worry that “none of it mattered,” she said.

But things are sometimes more fun when they don’t matter. This is queer art. “It can’t be drab and literate,” said collaborator and dancer Daniel Rosza Lang-Levitsky. “It’s about irresistibility.” During Saturday’s run-through the dancers changed in and out of neon tights, miniskirts, unitards, tank tops, tunics, underwear, and safety goggles. They covered their faces and spoke all at once about “the first time I got arrested,” ate Brazil nuts out of their underwear, and panted, loudly.

During the performances at Dixon Place, video artist Niknaz will project an image of a Polaroid picture developing. Ms. Dellecave and dancer Avi Rose will streak. Dancer Cassandra Burrows will sing the most melodramatic moments of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of her lungs. But underneath all the camp and costume is a loving satire of wide-eyed queers who’ve found love and adrenaline at the protest march.

“Micro-Mini Maxi Mystery Theater: En Total,” Oct. 3, 4 and 5 at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street; tickets $12 here