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How Pink Heels Became Harper Watters' Signature
When Houston Ballet demi-soloist Harper Watters first posted a short video of himself in bubblegum pink heels, he went to sleep with 4,000 Instagram followers. He awoke to more than double that, and 500-plus comments. Now at nearly 65,000 followers, Watters knows he (and his partner in crime, fellow Houston Ballet dancer Rhys Kosakowski) struck a fun chord with a new audience.
What inspired you to put on those heels?
My best friend Rhys and I each got a pair as a gag gift from a former company member. Honestly, before that it never crossed my mind to dance in heels! I've also been really inspired by James Whiteside, Yannis Marshall and local drag queens, too.
Why did you decide to post a heels video online?
One day after rehearsal, Rhys was on the treadmill in heels, doing hysterical moves, and we decided we had to post it. The first video I think I just ran in heels and did one tilt. After the attention it received, I had to give the people what they want. It evolved naturally (as naturally as a boy in heels on a treadmill!).
Social media has opened the doors to many creative projects. I've met other artists, had teaching opportunities, and connected to other young boys fighting the same fight as me. Hopefully viewers are able to look further and see I'm a classically-trained, serious artist. I'm obsessed with Beyoncé and heels, but it doesn't mean I can't be masculine enough for fight scenes or to lift a girl over my head.
Were you concerned about how it might affect your job?
I was nervous, but if anything it's had a positive effect. I was promoted to demi-soloist in October and my workload increased. I also run the Houston Ballet Instagram and every week I work with our PR department. It opened my eyes to creating a brand for myself. I'm grateful to work in a place where I feel accepted for who I am.
Are you nervous about getting injured wearing those heels?
YES! I'm so nervous about hurting myself, I've fallen a ton and turned my ankles. I really don't dance in them very often, so I'll change outfits three to four times so I have a bank of work to edit from.
Which is more difficult: pointe or heels?
I did pointe as a stepsister in Stanton Welch's Cinderella, and pointe is way harder. The amount of taping and blisters, the control and strength to roll up and down.
What's the difference in feeling between classical ballet and "heels ballet"?
When I put the heels on I feel invincible, taller, there is a confidence that comes from it that I've actually carried over into my classical dancing.
Talk us through your production ideas for your videos. What's the vibe you're going for?
With anything I do, I need to be 100 percent authentic. I liked the idea that you could recognize me as Harper the ballet dancer; the only difference is the heels. No glitz and glam, no makeup or wigs or costumes. I taught myself all the editing, so the videos are simple because I don't know how else to do it yet! Someday I'll have seven cameras following me for my reality show about my fabulous life.
There must be something in the water: Last week, we announced that Madonna is directing Michaela DePrince's upcoming biopic. And yesterday, we got wind of another major dance film: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox Searchlight has sealed the deal to make Ailey Ailey's life and work into a movie. Yes, please.
While some movies falter along their way to the big screen, we think this one's got legs (and hopefully a whole lot of lateral T's and hinges and coccyx balances, too). Why?
Back in 2012, after 14 years dancing with Mark Morris Dance Group, choreographer John Heginbotham ventured out on his own. Don't think of it as going solo, though.
Almost from the outset, Heginbotham has embarked on a series of fruitful collaborations with other artists, via his namesake company, Dance Heginbotham, and through a stream of independent projects. His creative partners have covered a range of talents and genres: illustrator Maira Kalman (in 2017's The Principles of Uncertainty), opera director Peter Sellars (for Girls of the Golden West, which debuted at San Francisco Opera in November), and contemporary-music luminaries such as Tyondai Braxton and Alarm Will Sound.
Here's What He Has To Say: About starting his company, his rehearsal process and why he's drawn to creative mash-ups.
Raise your hand if you've ever walked out of the studio with just one thought on your mind: a big, juicy cheeseburger. But raise your other hand if instead of getting that burger, you opted for a hearty salad or stir-fry.
While dancers need to fuel their bodies with nutrient-dense meals and snacks, plenty of foods get an unfair bad rap. "The diet culture in this country vilifies various food groups as being bad while championing others as good," says Kelly Hogan, MS, RD, CDN, clinical nutrition and wellness manager at the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "But black-and-white thinking like that has no place when it comes to food."
Some foods have less nutrition than others, admits Hogan, but if you're eating what you crave and honoring your hunger and fullness cues, she says you'll probably get the variety of nutrients your body needs. Here are seven foods that can have a place on your plate—guilt-free.
When you spend as much time on the road as The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae, getting access to a proper gym can be a hassle. To stay fit, the Australian-born principal turns to calisthenics—the old-school art of developing aerobic ability and strength with little to no equipment.
"It's basically just using your own body weight," McRae explains. "In terms of partnering, I'm not going to dance with a ballerina who is bigger than me, so if I can sustain my own body weight, then in my head I should be fine."
Ten years is a long time for a dance production to run, but Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Sutra, an athletic, meditative spectacle featuring 19 Shaolin monks and a malleable set of 21 wooden boxes (designed by Antony Gormley) is still striking a chord with audiences worldwide. To celebrate the milestone, Sutra is returning to Sadler's Wells, where it all began. March 26–28. sadlerswells.com.
Whether playing a saucy soubrette or an imperious swan, Irina Dvorovenko was always a formidable presence on the American Ballet Theatre stage. Since her 2013 retirement at 39, after 16 seasons, she's been bringing that intensity to an acting career in roles ranging from, well, Russian ballerinas to the Soviet-era newcomer she plays in the FX spy series "The Americans."
We caught up with her after tech rehearsal for the Encores! presentation of the musical Grand Hotel, directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes and running March 21–25 at New York City Center. It's another tempestuous ballerina role for Dvorovenko—Elizaveta Grushinskaya, on her seventh farewell tour, resentfully checks into the Berlin hostelry of the title with her entourage, only to fall for a handsome young baron and sing "Bonjour, Amour."
When Andrew Montgomery first saw the Las Vegas hit Le Rêve - The Dream 10 years ago, he knew he had to be a part of the show one day. Eight years later, he auditioned, and made it to the last round of cuts. On his way home, still waiting to hear whether he'd been cast, he was in a motorcycle accident that ended up costing him half his leg.
But Montgomery's story doesn't end the way you might think. Today, he's a cast member of Le Rêve, where he does acrobatics and aerial work, swims (yes, the show takes places in and around a large pool) and dances, all with his prosthetic leg.
Camille A. Brown is on an impressive streak: In October, the Ford Foundation named her an Art of Change fellow. In November, she won an AUDELCO ("Viv") Award for her choreography in the musical Bella: An American Tall Tale. On December 1, her Camille A. Brown & Dancers made its debut at the Kennedy Center, and two days later she was back in New York City to see her choreography in the opening of Broadway's Once on This Island. Weeks later, it was announced that she was choreographing NBC's live television musical Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, to air on April 1.
An extraordinarily private person, few knew that during this time Brown was in the midst of a health crisis. It started with an upset stomach while performing with her company on tour last summer.
"I was drinking ginger ale, thinking that I would feel better," she says. Finally, the pain became so acute that she went to the emergency room in Mississippi. Her appendix had burst. "Until then, I didn't know it was serious," she says. "I'm a dancer—aches and pains don't keep you from work."
A flock of polyamorous princes, a chorus of queer dying swans, a dominatrix witch: These are a few of the characters that populate the works of Katy Pyle, who, with her Brooklyn-based company Ballez, has been uprooting ballet's gender conventions since 2011.
Historically, ballet has not allowed for the expression of lesbian, transgender or gender-nonconforming identities. With Ballez, Pyle is reinventing the classical canon on more inclusive terms. Her work stems from a deep love of ballet and, at the same time, a frustration with its limits on acceptable body types and on the stories it traditionally tells.
The latest fitness fad has us literally buzzing. Vibrating tools—and exercise classes—promise added benefits to your typical workout and recovery routine, and they're only growing more popular.
Warning: These good vibrations don't come cheap.