Updated: Jun 4, 2019
I first noticed Tristan on a friendʼs Facebook page and seeing them made me ask “who is this exquisite creature?” He was on the Gulf Coast for a short tour of performances and workshops with a group that included a Chinese dancer that I knew through a mutual friend. I immediately started stalking his photos and sent him a friend request. With enough likes and comments we started a dialogue about life and what we did for it - he was both nice and professional. The photographs on his page were very intriguing to me, so I asked if I could photograph him and we worked out the details for me to go to Seattle, a place I had never been before. On our first day of photographing we were both awkwardly trusting the other one in our creative process, having no idea what to expect or what the end results would be. I had never worked with an individual who had thought of location, lighting and costuming for themselves. It was also one of the most physical shoots I have done. Seattle was gorgeous. We climbed mountains and crawled inside burned out stumps from last years drought fires. He bared his butt and soul with one eye looking over my shoulder looking for people who might stumble on our project. We found out later that Seattle has a law that protects public nudity for art.
How did you get started in dance?
When I was in college for music, I found a video of Rachel Brice on youtube and saw her moving around a stage while manipulating her abs and diaphragm. My voice was changing at the time, and belly dance was a way for me to strengthen the muscles necessary for good vocal technique without putting a strain on my cords. It wasn't until my first teacher pushed me onto a stage that I realized how much I loved the art form. A few years later, I flew to Texas for a competition that was entirely an audience vote. I only knew the person I was staying with, and I’d put the entire trip on a credit card. I was competing with dancers I’d idolized for years, so I just decided to have fun with it. I won the competition and the prize money paid the whole trip back. It took me totally off guard.
What’s the one thing you value most as a student/study of dance
Transparency of the artistic process, and honouring the roots of the dance even if you're going to transmute it into something entirely different.
What’s the one thing you try to install in your students?
Understanding that all teachers are still students, and that is what makes them worth studying with.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
The ability to study for the rest of my life through travel, without sacrificing having a solid sense of "home."
What is your greatest fear?
What is the trait you deplore most in yourself?
When overwhelmed, it's easy for me to fall back on the comforts of nesting and home-making, when what I really want is to be producing new art and collaborating with other artists.
What trait do you hate most in others?
Unrealized narcissism. Artists are inherently narcissistic, but that's only a bad thing when it's not understood and accepted - it turns to insecurity as opposed to productivity and often leads to conflict.
What living person do you admire most?
My mother. Everything I've learned about myself, how to survive, stay sane, and treat others comes from her.
What's your greatest extravagance?
Vintage silver from the orient, and antique textiles. I have no self restraint around either.
What is your current state of mimd?
Tornado. Everything is on fire and I'm about to jump off a cliff wearing a blind fold and sequins.
What is the most overrated virtue?
Hope. It's far too passive. Don't sit around hoping things will work out; take actions that will directly affect the futures of yourself and those you care about. If you have time to sit around and hope for the best, you have time to work towards the change you want to see in your life.
Whats on your bucket list?
To thrive entirely on my art, preferably abroad.
I'd love to tour the middle-east and India, but I also really want to explore Europe and Australia.
How old were you when you realized your differentness-your sexuality?
Like when I realized I was gay?
Hmm. That's kind of a tricky question for me. Growing up, I wasn't around kids my age anywhere near as much as I was around adults, so a lot of the social situations where I might have seen myself as "different" never really came up. I was home schooled, so prom wasn't a thing and I was never expected to find a date for it. I also never realized that that was something that most kids go through - I was always too busy with music or running around in the woods. I guess I always inherently knew I liked guys, and that it wasn't "normal," but that never really bothered me or made me question what just came naturally to me. If I had to put an age to it it'd be when I found my first BF - I was 17 I think.
What do you look for in a partner?
Physically my partners have all been completely different from each other - from teddy bears to nerds to amazing quirky artists. When it comes to compatibility it's almost entirely mental stimulation. Brains, art, word play, and humor are all weak spots for me, and I tend to fall for guys I respect in those areas. I love to be challenged, and someone who can stand up to me in a semantics debate really piques my interest.
Epitaph: I recently studied at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops with two masters in the world of photography who were teaching the techniques of envoirmental portraiture photography, Kurt Markus and Norman Maskopf. Environmental portraiture are portraits taken of a person or people in a situation that they live in and a place that says something about who they are. I was prepared for the class because Tristan, a master, had already schooled me.
I realized we never posted the nudes on the beach with the driftwood. They might be a cool cover for the interview?
Oh and the burnt out stumps as well. Yes I’ve already thought about them!
Fuck that's been a year already!