Free Fall 49 is an ongoing series of live, dance-based performances and installations responding to the June 12th 2016, Orlando Shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL. The work poses the falling body as metaphor for queer politic, and the dance floor as a space for resistance and experiencing agency.
Shown here is documentation of Free Fall 49 as it was performed at the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. During the performance dancers performed on raised platforms to a DJ'd soundtrack responding to the set performed at Pulse the night of the shooting. Over the course of the performance, the music stops and the dancers fall to the floor a total of 49 times: once for each fatal victim of the attack. In the performance, the music always starts again and the dancers stand-up again to dance. In the work, dancing and standing back up figure as acts of resistance. Dancing again, in this context, represents an act of reclaiming agency and reclaiming a sense of freedom in spaces (queer nightclubs) whose sense of sanctuary was shaken by the Orlando Shooting. Standing back up and dancing in their stead, honours the lives of those effected by the attack.
Working with this challenging context, the work makes visible the political dimensions of spaces often viewed as outside of, or ignored in contemporary political conversations. It explores the dance floor as both a space and a surface that supports, and also as a space and surface that can penetrate, harm and ultimately hold still fallen bodies.
At the Getty, the duration and act of dancing fostered a unique celebratory and reflective atmosphere in which audiences felt and joined in with the performers: dancing, falling and standing back up – together.
Images courtesy of the J Paul Getty Trust.
Photographers, Sarah Waldorf and Tristan Bravinder.