Legendary ballroom/vogue icon Leiomy Maldonado makes her Pittsburgh debut as headliner of True T Entertainment’s third edition of its #BlackOUT Weekend. The three-day, multi-venue festival, Aug. 11-13, features vogue workshops, dance parties, a kiki ball, picnic and performances celebrating queer people and artists of color.
Maldonado performs Aug. 12 at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater’s Alloy Studios, in Leiomy Maldonado — Legendary Leiomy, Iconic Vogue. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a pre-performance mixer. At 7 p.m., the dancing kicks off with True T’s performance troupe #kNOwSHADE in a vogue tribute to the underground ballroom scene. The ten-minute performance, says True T co-executive director Duane Binion, “will encompass the energy and vibe of what it means to be a queer person of color participating in ballroom.” Maldonado then takes the stage for a 15-minute voguing rendition of the “Cell Block Tango” from the Broadway and film smash Chicago, danced to an audio mix from Kevin JZ Prodigy, DJ Delish and DJ Mike Q.
In an interview with Oxygen Media, the 30-year-old Bronx native says she began voguing in 2002 in order to cope with the anxieties of being transgender. Since then, her high-energy, daredevil performing style has rocketed her to international stardom. She has appeared on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, and choreographed and appeared in Willow Smith’s music video “Whip My Hair.” Most recently, Maldonado became the newest face of Nike’s Be True equality campaign. Her signature hair-flip move, “The Leiomy Lolly,” has been adopted by Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga.
Of the five traditional elements of vogue performance, it’s Maldonado’s “spin and dip” — collapsing one leg under her and falling backward in a dead drop to the floor — that has garnered her the nickname “Wonder Woman.” Says Binion: “Leiomy is a performer that always amazes the crowd. She feeds off of the audience’s energy so there will often be times where they clap and scream.”
Rounding out the two-hour Aug. 12 program will be a post-show discussion with Maldonado, moderated by transgender activist Ciora Thomas, of SisTers PGH, and Naheen Cavalleri, of True T Entertainment.