Being Transgender in a Binary Ballet World
I'm a transgender ballet dancer (male to female) who desperately wants to perform in a professional company. I haven't come out about my gender because I'm afraid it will hurt my career. Yet it feels wrong to do male variations and have my teachers tell me to be more masculine. What can I do?
Only you can determine when or if you are ready to share this news. While increasing numbers of transgender contemporary dancers, like Chinese cultural icon Jin Xing, are challenging social norms, ballet—more than any other dance form—is defined by stereotypical gender roles. The art form's training, attire, and gender-specific aspects and movements, like pointe shoes for women and double tours for men, can be confusing to navigate as a transgender dancer. Choreographer Katy Pyle, a cisgender (non-trans) dancer, addresses this dilemma in her Brooklyn-based company Ballez by including a spectrum of gender identities and roles (such as a "Tranimal," a creature that's part bird and part man as the title character in her Firebird).
If you're emotionally prepared to start a conversation about your gender, you might approach a trusted faculty member. But if you feel that your program may not support you as a transgender woman, you could enroll in a different school where you can embrace your femininity more freely. As the dance community becomes more sensitive about the full spectrum of gender identity, it will hopefully welcome all genders into its fold. For more support on how to speak with your teachers, check out PFLAG, the nation's largest network for people of all orientations, allies and families.
Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at email@example.com.
Jellicle obsessives, rejoice: There's a new video out that offers a (surprisingly substantive) look at the dancing that went down on the set of the new CATS movie.
When Dr. Mae Jemison was growing up, she was obsessed with space. But she didn't see any astronauts who looked like her.
"I said, Wait a minute. Why are all the astronauts white males?" she recounts in a CNN video. "What if the aliens saw them and said, Are these the only people on Earth?"
It's no surprise that dancers make some of the best TED Talk presenters. Not only are they great performers, but they've got unique knowledge to share. And they can dance!
If you're in need of a midweek boost, look no further than these eight presentations from some incredibly inspiring dance artists.
As Dance Magazine editors, we admittedly spend more time than we'd like sifting through stock photography. Some of it is good, more of it is bad and most of it is just plain awkward.
But when paired with the right caption, those shots magically transform from head-scratchers to meme-worthy images that illustrate our singular experience as dancers. You can thank the internet for this special salute to dancer moods.