When a mutual friend put Kasi Aysola in touch with Daniel Phoenix Singh — the local founder of Dakshina /Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company — the 21-year-old Los Angeles native saw it as a chance to get back into dance.
Aysola, who arrived here March 1, makes it sound like it happened very quickly: “I discussed it with Daniel, he said yes, so I moved.”
Dakshina has a local performance planned this weekend. On Saturday (at 8 p.m. and Sunday (at 7) at Dance Place (3225 8th St., N.E.), the company will present a varied program that opens with traditional Bharata Natyam dance that morphs between lush storytelling and abstract dances. A modern fusion work, Anna Sokolow’s “Magritte, Magreete,” which combines dance, text and music will follow. Dakshina romotional materials call the 1970 work “one of the most influential modern dance works ever created.” (General admission is $22 but discounts are available; visit danceplace.org for details).
By day, he works — as he did in L.A. — in makeup. He sells and demonstrates products and gives applications at Sephora in Friendship Heights. He’s also studying ballet.
“I have a dual life,” he says. “I’m realistic about the degree to which dancing will pay my bills, so I have this as well and enjoy it almost as much. I wake up in a good mood knowing I get to do something fun that I’m good at.”
Aysola’s boyfriend of a year, Dominique, is relocating here from L.A. in two weeks. Aysola lives in Silver Spring and enjoys “eating, watching Netflix, a good drink and spending time with people I love” in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 16. The hardest person to tell was my mother.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Kevin Aucoin. Having painted so many legendary faces and making such an impact on the makeup world, he still somehow remained amazingly humble. Paint and makeup might be temporary but humanity and love aren’t. He exemplified that.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Not sure! Still new to town, so show me a good time! Although I have to say U Street is fun.
Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding would have everyone I love present with a supportive mindset. There would be lots of color, alcohol and Mexican food!
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I’m really passionate about HIV. Even though it affects the LGBT community, it’s a worldwide issue, just like cancer, that needs to annihilated.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would change Prop 8 in California ever being proposed. I would love to get married in my home state and with the person I love, regardless of gender.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I think seeing Janet Jackson flash the entire world at the Super Bowl takes the cake. That, and when “RuPaul’s Drag Race” came to television.
On what do you insist?
I insist on a lot of things. I think that comes with being a dramatic person. I insist on effort. I insist on love. I insist on respect. I insist on fun. And most of all, I insist on being happy in life.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It was a post of my $5 margarita at dinner.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Just an Indian boy living an American life.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I’m beautiful the way I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe god is a concept, not an entity. Physical being is just a façade, maybe even an illusion. It’s what is inside that I think compels us to be unique. I think that “god” resides within human beings and (like a lamp) it takes years to find that idea and spark it. I think once you do though, you can never put it out.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep doing what you’re doing, because I know that personally I need guidance. So if I need it then I’m sure there are a million others like me who do too.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I would walk across hot coals for a chance to quit my day job and perform dance full time. That and maybe for a trip to India!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That drag queens are transgender. Or for that matter, gay men in general. I grew up in a community where South Asian gay men living out of the closet was rare. So when I came out I faced a lot of ignorant comments from people who didn’t understand why I wanted to be a “woman.” I think education is the way to solve that.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I really liked “Hedwig and The Angry Inch.” I also loved “Rent.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Social customs as in etiquette? I think etiquette is not overrated but rather lacking! And I don’t mean the complexities of it, but rather simple manners.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Awards and prizes have never really meant the world to me, but I think being a dance finalist in NFAA’s YoungARTS program in 2010 was one of them. Getting to work with amazing artists who are par excellence was such a privilege and learning experience for me.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
What grey hair looks like, so I wouldn’t be so shocked now every time I find a new one.
To work with Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company. And to have a new start!