Lesson Plan – Vogue and Femme Power

Legend and educator Dashaun Evisu.

Legend and educator Dashaun Evisu.

This is a brief lesson plan for a workshop focusing on voguing, femme power and feminism through movement. In keeping with other vogue studies lesson plans that have appeared here, this lesson plan is geared towards the ballroom scene and larger queer communities of color, and comes at a later part of the curriculum, after other sessions or workshops have already taken place:

1. Think Out: At the start of the lesson, gather the group into a circle and ask that each member introduce themselves, and describe what the first thing is that comes to mind when they hear the word “feminine.” Give participants a moment to think, then go around and let everyone in the circle share a phrase, memory or idea they connect with the word feminine. (10 mins)

2. Intro and Gallery Walk: “The theme of the workshop today is femininity, femme power, and the way these concepts relate to the art form of vogue. To get us started, we will do an exercise called a gallery walk.” Place five to six posters on the floor in the center of the circle. Each poster will have written on it one key word relating to the theme of the workshop–Feminine, Feminism, Sexism, Transphobia, Strength, Weakness, etc.–each one placed within a box. Ask participants to take a moment and look at each of the words. If there are any questions about the words, try to encourage other participants to explain them, and to address those questions without interpreting their definitions through a personal lens. Pass out markers, and ask participants to write down what ever words, phrases or ideas they associate with each of these words with them on their posters. Ask them to put any ideas they believe go along with the word inside the box, and any ideas that contradict the word outside the box. How they determine these may be totally up to them. (5 mins)

3. Reflection: Once the gallery walk is complete and everyone has had a chance to add their own words, thoughts and ideas to each of the posters, ask everyone to step back and examine what has been written. “What do we notice? What stands out? Are there any trends we can find? Is there anything that surprises you?” Give participants a few minutes to discuss any thoughts or observations that viewing the posters brings up before transitioning into the next part of the lesson. (5 mins)

4. Quick Break: Break from the introductory exercise, and give participants a few minutes to stretch on their own and prepare for movement in any ways they need.

5. Movement: Quickly review as a collective some of the basic elements and steps taught in previous workshops (lines, poses, points, runway, etc.). Get participants to explain and demonstrate each of the perviously covered elements, and get all participants to review them briefly together in a large group. Return next to the original words on the posters from the gallery walk. Ask each participant to pick out three of the original words, then work on creating a pose, short phrase or movement to interpret each of their three words. After a few minutes of work, ask any willing participants to share out some of the movements or phrases they came up with, and the words they represent. Circulate around the room to answer questions and offer suggestions to anyone who may be feeling stuck or unsure. (10-15 mins)

6. In Partners: Ask participants to get in pairs and share with their partners the three movements they generated. Have the pairs work together and, with any of the movements they’ve brought to each other, create a short sequence using the other vogue elements–like lines and runway–to unite those movements together. Give partners ample time to talk, experiment with their phrases, and improvise off of their collected ideas. Continue circulating to make sure parters are working well together, and to continue offering suggestions and ideas. (15-20 mins)

7. Share Out: Regather participants into a circle, and with music, give each member an opportunity to share out what they worked on with their partner. Make the sharing informal, supportive and low pressure, and try to encourage every member to participate. It may help to have each participant who finishes their phrase “pass” the movement on to the next person in the circle they would like to dance after them, until each person has had a chance to share. (10 mins)

8. Closing: Return one final time to examine the original five or six posters from the gallery walk. Ask participants: “How do these words look different to us after spending some time trying them onto our bodies? How do we feel differently about any of them? How do these terms relate to vogue?” Take a few minutes after each question to discuss them thoroughly, encouraging each person in the collective to offer one closing thought. Wrap up the workshop, leaving space and time for participants to keep practicing in an open session once the formal workshop has finished. (10 mins)

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