Brontez Purnell Dance Company

Brontez Purnell Dance Company: Since 2010, the Brontez Purnell Dance Company has been presenting experimental dance and movement theatre works with a radically open understanding of the forms, bodies, and idioms of dance. Brontez Purnell, author of the cult zine Fag School and frontman for his band The Younger Lovers, along with founding company member Sophia Wang, build works that combine punk rock subversion, free jazz improvisation, and a company comprised of movers and artists of all disciplines. The company has performed its original works at Oakland’s Lobot Gallery, The Berkeley Art Museum, The Garage, Counterpulse, SOMArts, and at Kunst-Stoff Arts, as part of Fresh Festival 2014.


Proposed Work with AIRSpace

Ceremonious/Unceremonious
Fiercely combining physicality with an episodic narrative structure that expands the vocabulary and syntax of signifying movement. The work juxtaposes the language and form of mixtape-influenced happening, folkloric dance, and contemporary swagger.

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Brontez Purnell Dance Company is:

Brontez Purnell is the author of the cult zine “Fag School,” Cruising Diaries, the frontman for his band “The Younger Lovers,” and founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company (BPDC). Formerly a dancer with Gravy Train!!!, his other collaborations include an ensemble role in the queer independent feature film, “I Want Your Love” (Dir. Travis Mathews, 2012), and dancing for local artist-choreographers Amara Tabor-Smith, Keith Hennessy, Eric Kupers, and Nina Haft, and South African artist-choreographer Athi-Patra Rugra. Since founding BPDC in 2010, Purnell has presented his original dance and movement theatre works at the Berkeley Art Museum, CounterPULSE, the Garage, Kunst-Stoff Arts, the Lab, and SOMArts. With cinematographer Gary Fembot Gregerson and lighting designer Jerry Lee, Purnell produced, choreographed, and scored “Free Jazz” (2012), a 8mm B&W dance film documenting “various dance parties, structured improvs, rituals and happenings” performed by BPDC between 2010 and 2012, which has been shown internationally. He was a guest curator for the Berkeley Art Museum’s L@TE program in 2012, awarded an invitation to the 2012 Radar Lab queer arts summer residency, honored by Out Magazine’s 2012 Hot 100 List and 2013 Most Eligible Bachelors List, and most recently won the 2014 SF Bay Guardian’s Goldie for Performance/Music. He earned a B.F.A. in Theatre and Contemporary Dance at California State University, East Bay.

Sophia Wang is a founding member of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company who has been performing in the Bay Area since 2010. She has presented her choreographed works at Oakland’s Lobot Gallery, the Berkeley Art Museum, San Francisco’s ATA Gallery and the Lab, and at the Bay Area Public School. In 2013, Sophia and Oakland-based artist tooth (Black Hole Cinematheque) created a dance film entitled a turn in air in collaboration with poet Bernadette Mayer, which debuted at the Lab and has since been screened at the St. Marks Poetry Project in New York. She has danced for artist-choreographers Xandra Ibarra and Hentyle Yapp, Amara Tabor-Smith, (“He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street: Ed Mock and Other True Tales of a City That Once Was,” 2013), Tino Sehgal (“instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things,” 2013) and Jérôme Bel (“The Show Must Go On,” 2013). Along with dancers Christine Bonansea, Phoebe Osborne, and Rosemary Hannon, she creates collaborative sound and movement scores with Bay Area musicians including Tom Djil, Jacob Felix Heule, Suki O’Kane, and Kanoko Nishi. Currently, she is creating on a collaborative sculptural and movement work with Lisa Rybovich-Cralle. She holds a PhD in Literature from UC Berkeley, specializing in modern and contemporary experimental American poetry.


Recent Work

THE EPISODES – A performance event by Brontez Purnell Dance Company
With Brontez Purnell, Anthony R. Lucas and Sophia Wang
March 7th, 8th,9th, 14th,15th,16th – 8:00 pm
@ The Garage – 715 Bryant, San Francisco CA 94103
Co Produced and presented by THEOFFCENTER

  • Episodes
  • Episodes
  • Episodes
All photos by Robbie Sweeny 

THE EPISODES II – A performance event by Brontez Purnell Dance Company
November 22, 2013 @ 8:00 pm – November 24, 2013 @ CounterPULSE
co-produced with CounterPULSE

This installment of the EPISODES was created by company members Brontez Purnell and
Sophia Wang  alongside collaborators/co-conspirators Oscar Io, Jesse Hewitt, Larry Aringnton,
Laren Ebaugh and Caleb McLoud

It was a question of possession or of being possessed. Along side the religious baggage of said topic I saw the extreme practicality in it. That is – whenever in situations of “ritual” I feel catharsis and lifted but I never really leave my body. I only really do when in the grips of the everyday. Its in the bike ride to work , washing the dishes , or any given repetitiveness of the everyday. I think this should be celebrated like ritual, and this thought/feeling is essentially the basis of The Episodes. – Brontez Purnell

  • EpisodesII
  • EpisodesII
  • EpisodesII
All photos by Robbie Sweeny