Where Black Is Safe and Pure and Loud and Beautiful

dani tirrell’s shows include a mix of everything. But above all, they’re joy. The two-show-only world premiere of Leviticus or Love and to walk amongst HUMANS (Book I) runs through 4/21 at the Moore Theatre


Will your spirit still say yes
if I told you what I really need?

With the stomping and the singing and the choreographed procession and the call and response — broken up, occasionally, with a spontaneous outcry (of belief or doubt) — Black church and a particularly good club can look a lot alike. At their best, both are places to be lost and found; amorphous and whole; connected and unrestrained. 

They’re also places where queer and Black bodies haven’t always found safety, and have had to retract themselves to blend. Go be liberated — just don’t be read and seen for who you are. 

Enter dani tirrell’s world-premiere work, Leviticus or Love and to walk amongst HUMANS (Book I), commissioned by Seattle Theatre Group and having its world premiere in a two-day run at the Moore Theatre. Leviticus or Love feels like a wallop of a reclamation of both places. In the spaces where freedom, salvation, community, and honesty should flow most vividly through you, and they don’t, Leviticus or Love is a stage sanctified. 

It starts before the dancers hit the stage, approaching like an altar call. Up from the floor they rise, a cast of 12. Towering white curtains, a wash of soft light, and a stage gleaming like water all lend the feel of a church, a pool, a baptism. It’s a place where Black is beautiful and community is cleansing.

From there, it’s continuous movement, breaking off in solos or pairs while the others gather ’round, then filling the stage en masse. It’s not a dance, but many. Reaching for the sky, getting down on the floor; a tinge of tradition, a current of free-spirited modern. A dramatic tap sequence from Cipher Goings, with a thunderous response. Authoritative whacking, once Aisha Noir enters the scene (holding the crowd rapt with her lack of a wardrobe malfunction alongside her impeccable moves). Stylistically they’re distinct, but they flow with a common purpose. It’s a church, it’s a club, it’s communion in between. 

Until taking center stage near the end, creator dani tirrell oversees it all from the sideline, both charismatic liturgist and somber narrator; reading passages of reclamation in colonized spaces, of retaking “our beauty, our power, our memory,” highlighting the why of this holy gathering. At dani’s hand is Keyes Wiley, a spiritual partner, guiding the rhythms (from Nina Simone to Crystal Waters) that prove irresistible, as tirrell affirms the crowd, “It’s not just a party for us, it’s a party for you.”

This is a show for Black queer folks in need of a blessing. But there’s nourishment here for all of us. And, unabashedly, there’s joy. 

I’ll hold out my hand,
and my heart will be in it.

We are not what we once were.


Choreographed and directed by dani tirrell. DJ, sound design, and lighting design by Keyes Wiley. Costume design by Mary Roderick. Assistant choreographed by Majinn. Performed by Abdiel, Rose Amlin, Olivia Anderson, Malik Burnett, Ashayla Byrd, Cipher Goings, Akoiya Harris, Anastasia Johnson, marco farroni leonardo, Majinn, Nia-Amina Minor, and David Rue. Invited community dancers: Amaya Brazil, Moniah Gabriel, Brooke’Lynn Herron, Alaceia (Lacey) Lemon, Jocelyn McMillion, Aisha Noir, and Amy O’Neal. 

Leviticus or Love and to walk amongst HUMANS (Book I) runs through 4/21 at the Moore Theatre, in Downtown Seattle. Tickets ($38.50+ with fees) hereAccessibility notes: gender-neutral, single-stall restroom upstairs (via ramps). Theatre and some common areas are wheelchair accessible. Performances are ASL interpreted.

Run time: 90 minutes, no intermission.

Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of