The LGBTQ Dance Company Challenging Gender Norms With Ballet | NBC Left Field


My name is Katy Pyle. I’m the artistic director of a dance
company that’s called Ballez. I’m trying to represent lesbian, queer and
transgender culture with my work. I started taking ballet probably
when I was three years old. My technical capacity was good. I was a good performer. I was allowed to be in that world, and then as my body started to change,
my gender started to shift. I saw that those parts of me
didn’t belong inside of the form that I really loved,
which was really devastating. We were working on this variation,
which was I think from Giselle and I looked in the mirror and I saw my
body and I was like, I am not that. I’m not a kind of waif,
woman that is weak. I looked at my legs, and I looked at my arms, and
I was like this isn’t matching up. Ballet has a tendency to really
privilege this kind of longer, leaner kind of muscle. The hardest thing in the world is to do
these kind of female ballet variations where you’re inhabiting a projection
of weakness, airiness, and lightness. But in order to do that,
you’re using every muscle in your body. The ideal of these feminine archetypes
is something like lighter and not really grounded I remember really efforting
to make my strong body look weaker and
like I was in need of someone. Why am I always being asked
to learn these roles of dying virgins and
tortured women who need to be saved or swans that are under attack by
the advances of these princes. What is up with all of these roles? I wanna lift. Be more aggressive in my own movements,
also in my body. I like to jump. I like to turn. I like to do these things
that would be not part of the traditional ballet vocabulary for
feminine characters. Women can be really powerful and can support themselves and
support other people. And I think that that’s
a positive shift for women and I think it’s also
a positive shift for men and masculine identified people to be able
to see that they can also be supported, that they can also be lifted,
that they could also be tender and soft. Ballet has existed for
centuries and it has changed, so I have to change the bodies
that are inside of that work in order to serve that community and
to tell that story. I think in this moment, in this time, I don’t wanna exist completely in
isolation from the rest of the world. I wanna be in a bigger conversation and I think this work is an effort
to create connection.

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