The gay-helmed Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company’s newest dance explores the psychological impact of war on soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as the outfit celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Inspired by the National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibition “The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9-11 to Now,” the dance, titled “After 1,001 Nights” will premiere at the museum on Saturday, July 8 with performances at 2 and 4 p.m. in the Kogod Courtyard. Burgess, the first-ever choreographer in residence at the Smithsonian, choreographed the piece based on conversations he had with veterans. The performances are free and open to the public. Details at npg.si.edu or dtsbdc.org.
Dancer Felipe Oyarzun Moltedo, who’s been with the company for five-and-a-half years, says he’s drawn to modern dance that tells stories.
“Dana is a wonderful storyteller,” says the 30-year-old Santiago, Chile, native. “He can create incredible stories that are psychological and that express the human experience.”
Moltedo started dancing at age 12 and says the ephemeral nature of performance is appealing as well as “pushing my body to the limits of what I’m capable of.”
He’s also the company’s multimedia specialist and he teaches dance by day at the Georgetown Day School. He came to Washington to join the company.
Moltedo has a boyfriend, Martin Ongkeko, and lives in Columbia Heights. He enjoys swimming and reading in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out by force. When I was 18, my mom found a love letter my boyfriend at the time made for me. I think she was the hardest one to tell as it was the very first person I had to.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Cobalt, during Rumba Latina nights. I am a bit biased here.
Describe your dream wedding.
One that is small, just with a few close friends and family. More importantly, where no presents are allowed. I hate the hustle associated with gift giving.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Climate change and world hunger.
What historical outcome would you change?
If I have learned something about time travel movies and books, it’s that you shouldn’t try to change the past.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Lady Gaga’s meat dress.
On what do you insist?
Clean and open spaces.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
A post to promote Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company’s upcoming show at the National Portrait Gallery.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“101 Ways to Not Die Trying to Be Felipe Oyarzun”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Celebrate all of my friends who desire to change theirs. I am happy with mine.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
Energy is all around us; energy is what connects us with the universe and other living creatures.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Never give up; every little step takes us all further. You all are doing an amazing job!
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The people I love.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
I don’t believe in labels to be honest. I think everyone is unique and shouldn’t be judged in advance.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Pricilla, Queen of the Desert,” “The Birdcage” and “The Way He Looks” are my top three.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I try to not yearn for anything. I believe things come in their own time, just like this interview.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That life gets better when you are out of the closet.
Because my dance company is here.