I am curious about the other creative passions dancers are into, the influence of dance on those pursuits and vice versa. I originally met Kegan Marling years ago when they were on staff at Dancers’ Group. Later I had the joy of performing with them. More recently I became aware of Kegan’s photography practice when they were shooting a show I was in. When I learned that Kegan worked as a photographer for Mr. S Leather I got really interested in the intersection of dance and kink in photography.
It’s a joy photographing dancers, yet I’m also drawn to how movement exists outside of the dance studio and off the stage, within the bodies of those who might not necessarily consider themselves dancers.
When asked about the confluence of dance and photography in my work, I immediately thought of the fluidity and performance within the kink community – the dramatic movement of a whip through space, the choreographed architecture of the body tied up, and the entwining of bodies during aftercare.
There is an interesting echo between performance and kink. Terms like scene, roles and props are commonly used, as are many of the guiding principles of improvisation. I’ve heard people talk about their “pre-show rituals,” and roleplay and cosplay are essentially theater.
The accompanying two scenes reflect some of these dancerly qualities in kink. The first set (featuring Danny Nguyen) suggests a performative energy and flow, with numerous props including ropes, floggers and roses and the Folsom Street Fair crowd watching from all around. The second set (Johnny Tohme/Welder ONYX and Rey ONYX) leans into the composition of space and entwining of bodies, and closes with Rey in their pup hood receiving aftercare.
Kink scenes often end with some version of aftercare – a sort of closure ritual. Like dance, kink can be very physically and emotionally demanding. Aftercare is an intimate check-in with each other: How is your body? Where is your mind? What support would help? What does your body need right now to come down from that emotional and physical high?
Perhaps this is one area where I could have taken a lesson from kink – when I think back to the crash that often came at the end of a dance performance, a little aftercare wouldn’t have hurt.
Photography by Kegan Marling, in collaboration with ONYX Northwest members: Graylin Thornton, Danny Nguyen, Johnny Tohme (Welder ONYX) and Rey ONYX. ONYX is a nationwide organization formed and operated by queer Men of Color who enjoy the leather and kink lifestyle. The organization provides information, resources and community activities to help educate and empower BIPOC men. (onyxnorthwest.com). Additional thanks to The Academy SF for providing the location.