Coming out requires courage, imagination, and fortitude, and in Boys Like Us, the new 40-minute ensemble dance choreographed by UCSB’s Brandon Whited, it gets heart and soul too. Beginning in silence, six male dancers appear, three on the physical stage and three more projected in a mirror-like backdrop. Gradually, without apparent interaction or coordination, these projected dancers leave their imaginary zone and emerge onto the physical stage. Once they arrive, the music begins, and the men slowly learn to move, and then to interact with one another.
In episodes that follow, they develop a movement vocabulary that ranges from shimmying social dance to lingering partner work and even some abstract excursions involving high heels. Sergio Barrientos, Andrew Bauer, Guillermo Castro, Elijah Hahn-Smith, EzraNolan Spencer, and Colin Sneddon give interpretations of Whited’s story that contain reflections and feelings drawn from their own lives, and this adds to the sense that what’s happening onstage is meant to be a gift of community to their audience. Flanked by pre-show panel discussions and post-performance question and answer sessions, Boys Like Us succeeds in putting dance into dialogue with life.