Jacob Boehme is vulnerable, captivating in Blood on the Dance Floor

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Blood on the Dance Floor | DanceHouse, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, and Talking Stick Festival present ILBIJERRI Theatre Company | SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts | February 6 – 9, 2019

In a satin robe, flashy costume jewellery, and bright red lipstick, Jacob Boehme warmly welcomes the audience as we arrive at the theatre. His drag queen persona sits in the aisle for a few minutes, telling us about the many funerals during the AIDS epidemic. The persona is short-lived, though, as he soon de-robes and descends to the stage to tell us his story.

This extremely personal narrative, told through beautifully written words and evocative movement, provides a chilling perspective on the realities of life for gay, Indigenous, HIV positive men in Australia. A few phrases come up again and again as a voiceover: “Are you clean?,” “You don’t look sick,” and “We could have been really good together.” The relationship complications and being dumped every time he reveals his positive status lead to self-doubt and self-loathing.

In between the darkness, there is humour; and Boehme’s poetic writing is a perfect balance of heart-wrenching and heart-warming. He lets himself be completely vulnerable while telling us extremely personal details, and when he moves the emotion pours out of him.

The common thread running through his story is blood: something we all have in common, something that binds us with our family, and something that can become tainted by disease. Boehme may not leave his blood on the dance floor, but he leaves a part of himself.   

In the end, he has us all on the edge of our seats, hanging on every last word. His journey ends with acceptance of himself and every aspect of his identity as he finds love. Boehme is a truly skilled storyteller, and Blood on the Dance Floor was an extremely moving experience.

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