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.
Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.
At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.
When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.
"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
When Hollywood needs to build a fantasy world populated with extraordinary creatures, they call Terry Notary.
The former gymnast and circus performer got his start in film in 2000 when Ron Howard asked him to teach the actors how to move like Whos for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notary has since served as a movement choreographer, stunt coordinator and performer via motion capture technology for everything from the Planet of the Apes series to The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and this summer's The Lion King.
Since opening the Industry Dance Academy with his wife, Rhonda, and partners Maia and Richard Suckle, Notary also offers movement workshops for actors in Los Angeles.