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.
Have you ever seen a performance and thought, "Wow, this was so good. Dance Magazine should really be writing about this!"? You're in luck.
We're collecting nominations for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we need your help! We'll compile our favorite nominations, and then you'll vote on what should make it into our December issue. But for now, we want to hear about the most memorable dance you've seen so far in 2017.
Throughout the summer, we've been noticing beachside views and scenic waterfalls sprinkled in with all of the usual rehearsal and performance posts we see from ballet's biggest stars. But even while enjoying some sun and relaxation, dancers like Sara Mearns and Michaela DePrince prove that they never really take a break from ballet. Ahead, check out some of the cutest vacay pictures and videos our favorite dancers have been sharing this summer. Not only will they give you some future vacation inspo, they'll also have you itching to get back in the studio.
This fall, the University of Utah's School of Dance welcomes the first class of candidates to its newly reinstated Master of Fine Arts in Ballet program, currently the only ballet-specific MFA in the country. Geared toward those with professional ballet experience, it requires courses in pedagogy, choreography and scholarly inquiry. Melonie Murray, the director of graduate studies, says, "We want to support students in understanding ballet in a deeper way."
The 2017–18 Broadway season is just getting underway! But before we look ahead to new productions, let's recall what came before. Here are a few of the sparkliest shows that opened on the Great White Way in previous Augusts.
42nd Street (1980)
The cast of the 2001 revival of 42nd Street performing at the Tony Awards
If you need an example of traditional Broadway-style tap, this couldn't be any closer. The original production of 42nd Street ran for over eight years. That's a lot of time steps.
When I saw Kele Roberson dancing at New York City Dance Alliance Foundation's college scholarship audition, I only had to watch a deep plié before writing down a 10 out of 10 on his score sheet and scribbling a giant star next to his name. Before he even had a chance to show off his incredible lines, I was mesmerized by his nuanced grace in even the simplest of movements.
He walked away from that audition with NYCDA Foundation's Dance Magazine College Scholarship worth $25,000 to the college of his choice, which happened to be Juilliard, where he was planning to attend this fall.
But shortly after winning, it turns out, his plans changed. I caught up with him earlier today to find out what happened.
Yep, you read that right.
Alpaca dance classes are a thing, thanks to 313 Farms in Manitoba, Canada. Students can take classes like "Barn Barre," "Mommy, The Alpacas, & Me" and "Poppin' Pacas" while the animals roam—and you're welcome to stop and pet them mid-class.
"Having worked in a dance studio, I had quite a few students visit the alpacas and they loved being around them," says owner Ann Patman. "Most studios have no windows and even though the class might be great, you don't get any fresh air or see what's going on outside."
Nominations for our Readers' Choice Awards are underway, and you've been sending in tons of exciting ones.
As a reminder, we're compiling nominations in seven categories:
- Best Viral Video
- Most Moving Performance
- Biggest Choreographic Breakthrough
- Coolest Collaboration
- Best Dance Documentary
- Most Inventive New Work
- Funniest Performance
We'll choose our favorites, then ask you to vote on what will make it into our December issue.
Here are some of our favs so far: