It’s a big weekend for Robert J. Priore, a dancer/choreographer who’s possessed, it’s been said, of an “easily identifiable and magnetic style.”
This weekend, his piece “Ascendance,” a work featuring CityDance Conservatory students, CityDance alumni and dancers from several other companies, will be performed at the CityDance Studio Theater at the Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.) Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m. Tickets are $25. Visit citydance.net for more information.
Priore, a 28-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native, came to Washington four-and-a-half years ago after stints in New York City; Dayton, Ohio; and Pittsburgh. He credits his arrival with “a need for a change and a great job!”
Priore is single and lives in the Chinatown/Metro Center area. He enjoys cooking, baking, hiking, yoga and biking in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since college. I think every time you’re willing to expose your individuality it’s difficult, but I was lucky to have a very supportive group of family and very fortunate that it was an easy process for me.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
RuPaul is really opening the door for the people of the LGBT community and he is such in an inspiration. He proves that it doesn’t matter what lifestyle you live, the most important thing is that you have to love yourself.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Nellie’s will always be the best spot in D.C. I go there with my friends all the time.
Describe your dream wedding.
Marrying the one person I love surrounded by the people who love and support me. It would be amazing to have the wedding on a tropical beach, but what matters is being surrounded by the people I love.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about art education and art funding. I think art education is important because dance and the arts get youth excited about going to school.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would go back and make sure that President Abraham Lincoln wasn’t assassinated because he was a visionary for his time and I feel like he really thought outside the box.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The day that Michael Jackson died because he was such an inspiration to dancers and myself. He was a legend at such a young age and I remember thinking, “Who I am going to look up to now?”
On what do you insist?
To always be surrounded by the people I love. My friends and family mean everything to me and without them I would not be where I am today.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Wow thank you everyone for the birthday love! 28 is going to be my year. It starts next weekend with my Onstage Ignite artist show for CityDance at the CityDance Studio Theater at Strathmore.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
We all know “Eat, Pray, Love” — what about “Dance, Gay, Love”?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
The sense of reincarnation and connection. I feel like that’s why you find people you are so drawn to without explanation.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
We need to find more unity. A lot of times there is separation against each other, but we are all fighting for the same cause.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
For a lot of things. Hot coals really don’t scare me and there are a lot of things in my life I wouldn’t mind getting a little burned for.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Masc4masc. Some men really define their preference by how masculine someone is and define masculinity by what you do for a living or how you look on the exterior. Just because you are an artist or if you look a certain way does not mean that you are not masculine.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I’m not sure it actually qualifies, but “Mean Girls” will always be my No. 1 guilty pleasure. There was a gay character in the film, and let’s face it sometimes gay men can be “mean girls,” but that movie was very relevant to me when I was growing up.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Twitter. We already have Facebook. I don’t think it’s necessary to share your emotions every five minutes online. We are losing the art of face-to-face communication.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Up to this point it’s winning the Viewers Choice Award for the Dance Gallery Festival at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York. Next year I am commissioned to come back and present a larger work for a more select concert.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had known that sometimes it’s more gratifying doing the work you want to do rather than what other people tell you that you should be doing.
I’m able to really stand on my own here and try to make the big splash in local and international dance. Washington is a smaller city, so it’s easier to make connections and network at a faster rate. I enjoy working with the youth and professionals and when I tour internationally, I love bringing back what I’ve learned to D.C. I’m an OnStage Ignite Artist at CityDance in D.C. and I feel lucky to receive rehearsal space and support in presenting my work around D.C. I also dance for local dance troupe Company E. I feel very connected to the D.C. dance scene.