In front of mirrors

Harrell Trajal
Dior goes Gothic: Trajal Harrell's "House of Bernarda Alba," based on the tragedy by Federico García Lorca, is set in the 1940s Dior fashion house, an exclusive salon, and the models within easy reach of Zurich's exclusive audience.

Trajal Harrell from New York works like an explorer. Just as Alexander von Humboldt once explored various cultures across the globe, Harrell seeks out the dances of modernity – voguing, Butoh, Black America. The world is now rewarding him for his endeavors with monographic shows and world tours.

Dance Critic

Dancer of the Year 2019 – Triennale Milano

Lorenza Daverio

His office is in New York, his workplace in Zurich, and his home in Athens. Trajal Harrell is always on the go. In the summer of 2023 in Vienna, he will be presenting his works, which have such beautiful names as “Monkey off My Back or the Cat’s Meow,” “Maggie the Cat,” or – as seen here – “The Köln Concert.”

In the fall, he will show his other works at the Festival d’Automne in Paris, including “In the Mood for Frankie,” “Sisters or He Buried the Body,” “Demanding Whispers,” “Caen Amour,” “Tambourines,” and his 2011 classic “(M)imosa,” which was created in collaboration with the no less famous dance stars Marlene Monteiro Freitas, François Chaignaud, and Cecilia Bengolea. Prior to this, he will be guesting in Berlin with “The Romeo.”

Trajal Harrell was named “Dancer of the Year” in 2018 and created a piece of the same name in response to this accolade. It and most of his other works are about dance fashion. Like a visual artist, he performs the steps, poses, quotations, the history of dance in the eternal field of tension between gender issues and racism on the dress he holds up against himself.

Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning

Paula Court

He owes his immense productivity not least to his collaboration with the Schauspielhaus Zürich Dance Ensemble, which he was privileged to form during the era of the now departing artistic directors Nicolas Stemann and Benjamin von Blomberg. This era will come to an end in 2025 – and the ensemble in Zurich is threatened with the same fate as the Ballet of Difference led by choreographer Richard Siegal in Cologne: In the wake of a political decision, a dance ensemble based at a theater will be shut down despite worldwide successes.

Lilo Weber

Lilo Weber, a longtime dance critic with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, has followed Harrell’s development closely and has had long conversations with him, always catching up with him somewhere between Athens, Zurich, New York, and elsewhere: a man at the zenith of his art. Her thorough research has resulted in this wonderful, lavishly illustrated narrative, or rather monograph, about the explorer and world traveler Trajal Harrell, which begins here.

Read on …
Trajal Harrell

“I’m not a voguer”


Voguing, Butoh, postmodernism – Trajal Harrell and his people are shaking up gender roles and rewriting dance history. In doing so, he touches a nerve of our time.

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