Lectures and Talks

Art Connects | An Introduction to Vogueing and Ballroom Culture

Fri May 1 4:30 PM

Vancouver Art Gallery

An Introduction to Vogueing and Ballroom Culture

Friday, May 1 | 4:30 PM


SPEAKERS: Ralph Escamillan, Founder of Van Vogue Jam and Kiki Mother Gvasalia, Vancouver, with Slim Xtravaganza, New York City; Isla Cheadle, Founder of Banjee Ball, House of Ebony, Los Angeles; Twysted Miyake-Mugler, Founder of Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, Toronto

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay connected with our new series of online gatherings, Art Connects!

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Tin Man Was A Dreamer: Allegories, Poetics and Performances of Power, this Art Connects will delve into the power dynamics implicit in the style of dance known as Vogueing.

Born from the Queer Black & Latinx underground culture of the Harlem Drag Balls of the 1960s, Vogue and Ballroom—as defined by Van Vogue Jam founder Ralph Escamillan—make up a style of dance culture that empowers you to find your individuality and self-confidence. Even during this time of physical distance, Ballroom continues to thrive in virtual spaces, bringing communities together.

Join Escamillan and performance artists Slim Xtravaganza, Isla Cheadle and Twysted Miyake-Mugler for this edition of Art Connects to learn about the history and origins of Vogueing and Ballroom Culture. They will also share how dance has given them a platform to tell their stories and the stories of their communities. Following this discussion, they will “pass the beat” and showcase their Vogue from New York City, Toronto, Los Angeles and Vancouver.

This conversation will be moderated by Melissa Lee, Director of Education and Public Programs, and Stephanie Bokenfohr, Adult Programs Coordinator.

Questions? Submit them when you register or during the Zoom presentation using the Q&A function. You can also engage with your fellow attendees and panelists during the event using the Chat function.

New to Zoom? Learn how to register and attend a webinar here »


Isla Cheadle is a music and dance artist, record label owner, event promoter and voguer. With almost 20 years of experience, she has toured the world performing dance music with her husband under the name Purple Crush. In 2013 she started a Ballroom event called Banjee Ball, which has gone on to team up with LA County, LA LGBT Center, The Broad Museum, MOCA, UC Santa Barbara, and numerous non-profit art organizations and festivals. Formerly of the House of Chanel and now in the House of Ebony, Isla won Woman Voguer of the Year in New York City in 2017, and now holds the title Godmother Ebony for the LA Chapter.

Ralph Escamillan is a queer, Canadian-Filipinx dancer, choreographer and community leader based in Vancouver, BC. He is a graduate of contemporary training program Modus Operandi (2015), and his arsenal of performance skills includes a variety of street dance styles, ballroom, vogue, circus and drag. Escamillan has worked and toured internationally with a number of Vancouver-based dance companies and also works in film and television, represented by Da Costa Talent. The founder of non-profit Van Vogue Jam, Escamillan shares his passion for vogue/ballroom culture at his weekly by-donation class and at vogue balls, acting as a beacon for the queer dance form in Western Canada. Recently touring his first full length work HINKYPUNK around the prairies, under his company alias FakeKnot, he is now working on his second work, whip, premiering at the MAI (Montréal, QB) in Spring of 2021. Currently he is on contract with Wen Wei Dance and Mascall Dance, he recently performed as a guest dancer for Ballet BC, and he is a Lululemon Ambassador.

Twysted Miyake-Mugler is a house founder, house father, teacher, activist, advocate and emissary of Canadian ballroom. Founder of the kiki house of Siriano, and Canadian/Midwest Father of the iconic New York-based House of Miyake-Mugler, he has competed, walked, hosted and taught across North America throughout his voguing career stretching over a decade. Twysted is also the founder of the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance and a consultant for the MTL Kiki Ballroom Alliance, organizations that work towards introducing youth to ballroom culture in safe space, alcohol-free environments, including workshop nights at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Montréal’s Never Apart. Other work includes his involvement with the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, disseminating information and building networks amongst QPOC people. His presence in Toronto’s queer and Canadian ballroom scenes is foundational – the work of a true pioneer.

Jason Anthony Rodriguez (aka Slim Xtravaganza) is a Dominican-American actor and dancer. He was born and raised in Washington Heights in New York City. Rodriguez attended SUNY Purchase (State University of New York), where he received a BA in Arts Management while also studying dance. His training in vogue began with Benny Ninja and continued with The House of Ninja. He is currently a member of the House of Xtravaganza. He co-stars in Ryan Murphy’s Emmy and Golden Globes nominated show Pose as Lemar Wintour. He is also the Movement Coach and Choreographer for Season 2 of Pose. He has been featured in the New York Times, and he has been seen vogueing on Baz Lurhmann’s show The Get Down on Netflix and in Damon Cardasis’ feature film Saturday Church. Rodriguez has taught vogue in various institutions in NYC, Miami, Iowa and New Jersey and internationally in the Dominican Republic, Vienna and Japan.