Choreographer Juel D.Lane Adapts Powerful Same-Sex Duet Into Short Film 'Touch And Agree'
Celebrated openly gay choreographer Juel D. Lane has adapted one of his most personal choreographic works for the screen and virtual audiences all over the world will be able to experience it on October 1-4 during Atlanta’s annual Out on Film LGBTQ Festival.
“Touch And Agree” is a short film based on Lane’s previously produced male pas de deux, “Waiting,” which explores what it is to be in love and how we commit to another person without losing our own identity—all while navigating the highs and lows of a relationship. Set to the music of legendary soul singer Sam Cooke, the emotionally charged ballet was also set on Ailey II, the junior company of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2017.
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution described “Touch and Agree” as “an intricate, physical conversation of actions and reactions.” “The piece featured the dancers shifting between opposing and supporting one another. After one show, an audience member told Lane he saw himself and his wife in the duet, a sign that the piece had universal appeal and potential for further development.
The opportunity to expand “Waiting” came a year later when Lane was teaching at his alma mater (North Carolina School of The Arts) in North Carolina. He named the work, “Touch & Agree” in reference to the moment during church services when members of the congregation reach out to greet one another.
“When you enter somebody’s life, and you start to physically, mentally touch them, you’ve got to make sure that you can agree to disagree,” Lane said. “You’re sharing your life with somebody, and you’re bringing somebody into your world.” A relationship can be dangerous and scary, Lane said, “but the thing about it is, how do you navigate within it to make it work?
Lane tells Living Out Loud 2.0 that it was important for him to adapt the piece for the screen to add to the global conversation around diverse representation in LGBTQIA films.
“My first visible Black gay male figure was Gene Anthony Ray, who played the character Leroy on the TV show “Fame” in the 80s. I could relate to him. Then in the 90s, shifting to Marlon Riggs’ film “Tongues Untied.” From the opening chant, “brother to brother, brother to brother,” I knew he was making a call to action with this representation of defining and showcasing black men loving each other. Next, in the early 2000s, Patrik-Ian Polk’s “Noah Arc” was a reflection of what my friends and I were dealing with. And then you have “Moonlight” by Barry Jenkins that came busting through with more visibility. So for me, this piece is simply in conversation with all of this."
The short film is packed with the physical prowess and aesthetic of the two male dance leads, Marquis Floyd (Touch) and Lloyd Ah’Mir Boyd (Agree), but Lane says he wants the audience to be stimulated in ways beyond the obvious.
“I wanted to show love and intimacy from my point of view. I wanted to craft a body of work that doesn’t direct the eye to the obvious body architecture of Black gay men,” said Lane. Shoot, we know we’re fine, but there’s so much more that we possess. I wanted the audience to see a story that ends with hope.”
Check out the trailer for “Touch and Agree” below:
For more information on how you can watch the film during the Out on Film Festival, click here.