Young Boy Dancing Group (YBDG)

Young Boy Dancing Group was initiated in 2014 as a mercurial dance collective with an ongoing alternating cast. The group deals critically with modes of dance production, digital culture, originality and institutionalisation.


The work ranges from videos, fashion, sculptures and live performances which are often structured improvisations influenced by post-apocalyptic scenery, acrobatics, posthumanism and the unconscious. Among others, past performances have been held at the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale; Manifesta 11 in Zürich; Yvonne Lambert, Berlin; Chart Art Fair, Copenhagen; Roskilde Music festival; Silencio, Paris; Kunstraum, London; and Lofficialàrt, Paris. Young Boy Dancing Group is supported by The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Location: Tallinn
Young Boy Dancing Group Sculpture without Audience 2017 Performance with Maria Metsalu, Nicolas Roses, Manuel Scheiwiller, Michelle Rizzo, Casper Malte Augusta Courtesy the artists
Photo by Young Boy Dancing Group

The nightclub, like the art world, is a space that ultimately relies on a willingness to believe on the part of its participants. Entering into either one means exiting the mundane with the certainty that transcendence is to be found. Once inside, one is primed for a collective effervescence, in which the individual is transported from the profane to the sacred via proximity to others, a shared experience, collective energy. Nightlife has long been a space in which radical notions of identity are performed and recognized. Both are liminal spaces where transformation, transition, alchemy, creation is possible. Credulity is the tithe of faith that elevates the ordinary to the transcendent.


It is not, then, incidental that a performance by Young Boy Dancing Group (YBDG) is in many respects reminiscent of an occult ritual. Candles, fetish objects, archetypes of apocalypse, death, and rebirth are grounded by notions of institutional critique, post-humanism, contemporary dance and authorship, among others. An ever-shifting collective of friends and collaborators, mostly trained as dancers, YBDG have performed at biennials, galleries, festivals, and exhibition spaces across Europe, in addition to clubs, workshops, and competitions since 2013.


In a group that takes the collective as one such route to the transcendental and the transformative, authorship is clearly at stake. Participation in specific performances depends on the availability of the various members, and DIY is as essential to their productions as sampling and osmosis. This collective energy has more to do with a performance’s success than established notions of “professionalism” like rehearsal, choreography, or formality. Preoccupations from individual practices inevitably meander in, around, and through the group back out into someone else’s work. YBDG’s performances are broken up into scenes of loosely organized, often improvised material that might quote sources such as Tino Sehgal or an Ibiza club performer.


Such is the case for the scenario for which the group is best-known, the infamous lasers shooting from anal sphincters. These scenes are visually arresting and evocative, even in a written or spoken description. Although fascinating to watch, they should be seen as but one roving element in a repertoire whose constants are fluidity, improvisation, and the energy of a moment. Questions of sexuality, gender, queer culture and politics, and transgression are easily brought to the forefront via the lasers, but again, they are simply inherent to the group’s resistance to simple definitions and accepted norms.


During a YBDG performance, it becomes apparent that one is watching trained dancers. Yet there are oscillations between moments of elegance and awkwardness, sensuality and confusion, beauty and aggression, perhaps not unlike most sexual encounters. If collective energy is key for YBDG, this energy is certainly partly sexual. It is not unusual for make-outs to be part of the performances, between participants as well as audience members. More than cheap thrills, however, this sexual energy is yet another method of conjuring up a specific atmosphere for experiment, for play, and for transformation. Desire feeds the impetus to merge and allows this belief in transcendence. This potentiality is not possible alone; ritual knowledge is made through the body. It’s like hearing a thing we’ve forgotten but have always known; YBDG merely reminds us.



Ana Iwataki