***What’s DANCECRUSH, you ask? Find out more about it HERE***
Scotty Flores’ beautiful work, cold side (of the pillow), caught SeattleDances’ eye in 2016, earning it a DanceCrush Award for performance and choreography. We’ve been following the Seattle-based dancer, choreographer, and burlesque artist ever since, and we’re still crushing! SeattleDances sat down with Flores to talk about his dance background, the glamour of burlesque, and how embracing his feminine side might help change the world.
SeattleDances: You won a Dance Crush award for cold side (of the pillow). Since not all of us were lucky enough to see it, could you give us a recap in your own words of how the piece came to be?
Scotty Flores: I choreographed a duet between Nahshon Marden and Daniel Costa [for a show with Collective Sigh Dance]. It was an emotional piece, something that was very dark for me, and it explored the ideas of two people in a relationship and whether they work together, whether monogamy is something that’s vital for a relationship to work, if going outside of that would break the relationship down or not. It wasn’t until later on in the year that I found out that I got the award. It was such a surprise. And then I got to dance the work for DanceCrush. That was in itself such a treat for me because I had given this piece to these dancers after a certain time, and was like, “this is yours to present,” so getting to step back into it was somewhat emotional, but also just like living through something that I had lived through but in a different light and in a different way.
SD: Tell us about your background. Are you from Seattle?
SF: I grew up in Texas, in El Paso. Far, far West Texas. A very small town–not a lot of dance out there. Long story short, in high school, I auditioned for my high school’s color guard. That’s where I discovered dance, because my instructor was dance-heavy, and wanted our bodies to look good before we picked up a flag and a rifle, and I fell in love with it in that moment. Somehow in the few years that I did it in high school I thought, “Oh, I should be a dancer.” I got into Cornish [College of the Arts], and I had never been to Seattle, but I had lived in the desert for so long that I was so ready for a place like this, so I took the risk and just did it. It was just a great, great opportunity for me. It was hard because I didn’t have a lot of classical training really, and I didn’t take a lot of modern or ballet classes until Cornish, so it was really just me and those four years, milking it the best I could.
SD: That’s a lot to pack in. A lot of dancers start at age 3, or age 8–waiting until you’re in high school is a long time. Though clearly Cornish wanted you to be there, and you’ve done really well since. Can you tell us more about that experience?
SF: It was really scary coming into my first day at Cornish, I felt like such a small fish, and I was so behind my peers. I think that made me work so hard to catch up and do what I could. I know I wasn’t the conventional male dancer, and I’m still not, and I think that’s where I really thrive.
SD: You’re very much involved in the burlesque community in Seattle. Can you talk more about your experience there? Do you feel like burlesque allows more of your unconventionality to come out, or lets you express something different?
SF: There was a burlesque class at Cornish, where I got to meet members of [the local troupe] Mod Carousel. They ended up taking me on as an intern and really helped me to develop my character, and my persona, and my acts. In 2016, they promoted me as a member of their troupe. I kind of snuck into this burlesque world, and I feel like as a dancer it’s so perfect for what I want to do, because i’m such a queer hyperfeminine, androgynous artist.
I fell in love with the glamour, the showmanship, and the complete essence of what burlesque is today. Burlesque allows me to be feminine, it allows me to be masculine, it allows me to explore normativity and challenge it, and be a little crazy. I can be the angel of death or a college kid addicted to potato chips. I want to find how to combine where modern dance meets burlesque. I’m trying to see where I can take the two genres, and my two personas–Scotty and Moscato, where do we collide?
SD: I was going to ask about your burlesque name.
SF: Yes, I am Moscato Extatique. Moscato Extatique is an amplification of Scotty–he is me times 10. I’m very true to who I am on stage because it’s this extreme version of me, who is allowed to tell these stories of whimsical times, or really mysterious times, or sensual or tragic times.
SD: How do you feel about the term boylesque? Do you feel that you’re a boylesque artist, or a burlesque artist, or something else?
SF: I identify as both. I think it’s great. We’re all doing burlesque; boylesque is burlesque, and vice versa. I think anyone presenting a male idea on stage, or a masculine idea on stage is doing boylesque. Boylesque can be traced back to drag performers of the ’50s. I think traces of boylesque can be seen even in dance, like when men play female roles. I think gender and sex are such important topics today. People present so differently, and on a broad spectrum. That’s really great, and I love seeing my friends out there, really my community, presenting on stage as what they choose to. And I want to help be an advocate for that. I want to say that it’s okay to be a male on stage but also be in high heels and wear fake lashes and prance, or in high heels and lashes and pants with a beard, whatever. It’s all so fabulous and okay. I think it’s important to choose: “This is how I present. This is how I perform.”
SD: And what are you hoping your work will mean to others?
SF: I do hope to inspire others, whether it be to inspire them to perform, or inspire emotion, or provoke thought. I just want people to walk away and think about why they’ve felt emotions during my work, whether it be inspired, or hurt, or offended. I want people to be able to feel those emotions and reflect: “Why am I feeling that?” Just investigate, “Why is that important to me? Why is that significant?”
SD: A lot of male dancers get criticized even when they’re doing very masculine roles, just for being a dancer, and that is seen as “too feminine.” So the fact you dance with a feminine persona and identify as a male person, that’s a really interesting space to occupy. You’re embracing the femininity of some parts of dance, embracing the femininity of yourself, but also there’s other parts of yourself that are appearing at the same time.
I think a lot more people are challenging gender roles and challenging gender identity and what that looks like. I think also it has inspired my daily life and my approach to how I present myself on the street or at work. Growing up I was afraid to. I felt like that wasn’t ok. I was so scared to be my fullest me, and I think in the past year I’ve finally felt the most comfortable with myself. I think burlesque is a great thing for that–so many performers go to burlesque because it is liberating. It is a safe space and it is a body positive art form. Dance is not always that way. Burlesque is something that constantly reminds me that everyone’s beautiful.
SD: What are you hoping for from your choreography in the future?
SF: I’m hoping to submit more work in the future. Now that I’m getting more of an idea where I want to take my dance work, I feel like I’m the type of choreographer where I want to pay my dancers. If I want to be paid and valued like that, then I need to do the same in the community. As a community we need to start raising that expectation because I think too many dancers in Seattle are dancing for free, and I think it’s important to be paid for the work we put in. I’m building a career off of this, and hopefully I get to do more and more and more.
Scotty Flores appears in Men in Dance October 6-7 at Velocity Dance Center, BenDeLaCreme’s “Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor October 12-29 at ACT, Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker December 7-28 at the Triple Door, and Oui Oui February 2 at the Theatre Off Jackson.