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Chase Johnsey leaves Trocks; Joins ENB


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3 hours ago, Helene said:

The Trocks performances weren't the issue:  management was.  And the point of gender fluidity is, well, fluidity.  That, by definition, means the goalposts move, for him, and for the Trocks, which is not the same troupe that it started with.  Fluidity means he doesn't have to pick a lane and stick to it.  Nor does he have to represent.

Nor does Johnsey have the right to be employed by the Trocks if he can't stick to their mission.  The management was wrong if they tried to police his off stage behavior. (Although we have only heard Johnsey's side of the story.). But they are still management,  with no obligation to accommodate one employee's wishes and desires.

That picture of Johnsey from the Spanish company website seems to confirm that his gender identity is fluid indeed.  His buzzed haircut and stubbly face are a far cry from his earlier presentation with long hair and feminine makeup.

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7 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Nor does Johnsey have the right to be employed by the Trocks if he can't stick to their mission.  The management was wrong if they tried to police his off stage behavior. (Although we have only heard Johnsey's side of the story.). But they are still management,  with no obligation to accommodate one employee's wishes and desires.

What is the aspect of their "mission" that he couldn't "stick to"? What are the "wishes and desires" that management had "no obligation accommodate"? (Genuine questions.)

7 hours ago, On Pointe said:

That picture of Johnsey from the Spanish company website seems to confirm that his gender identity is fluid indeed.

Well yes. When someone chooses to publicly define their identity in a particular way — especially if that puts them in a category that is commonly subject to prejudice, discrimination, misunderstanding, animus, etc. — I find it's usually best to take them at their word.

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2 hours ago, nanushka said:

What is the aspect of their "mission" that he couldn't "stick to"? What are the "wishes and desires" that management had "no obligation accommodate"? (Genuine questions.)

 

Johnsey was clear about it. The Trocks want to be known as a troupe of men in drag. Men dancing on pointe. Men satirizing ballet-( and showing how proficient they can be on pointe if wanted). They want men who dress and look like men offstage vs their comical onstage "female" alter egos.

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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

What is the aspect of their "mission" that he couldn't "stick to"? What are the "wishes and desires" that management had "no obligation accommodate"? (Genuine questions.)

The Trocks are a drag troupe,  where the humor is based in obviously male performers presenting a caricature of female appearance and mannerisms.   The punny "Russian" stage names underline their comic intent.  Johnsey wanted to be taken seriously as a female performer.  He wasn't going for the laughs any more.

3 hours ago, nanushka said:

When someone chooses to publicly define their identity in a particular way — especially if that puts them in a category that is commonly subject to prejudice, discrimination, misunderstanding, animus, etc. — I find it's usually best to take them at their word.

That is the polite thing to do.  The problem with gender-fluidity is that other people have no way of knowing how they  identify when their appearance is totally at odds with their feelings,  which can change day by day.  The over-the-top fury that often ensues is not reasonable,  like the firing of a teacher in the UK who referred to his class as "girls",  at an all girls school,  because one of them decided to self-identify as male.

Edited by On Pointe
Grammar
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23 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Johnsey was clear about it. The Trocks want to be known as a troupe of men in drag. Men dancing on pointe. Men satirizing ballet-( and showing how proficient they can be on pointe if wanted). They want men who dress and look like men offstage vs their comical onstage "female" alter egos.

 

19 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

The Trocks are a drag troupe,  where the humor is based in obviously male performers presenting a caricature of female appearance and mannerisms.   The punny "Russian" stage names underline their comic intent.  Johnsey wanted to be taken seriously as a female performer.  He wasn't going for the laughs any more.

There's some serious confusion between sex and gender identity/expression going on here.

The Trocks bill themselves as "The World's Foremost All-Male Ballet Company." They do not sell themselves as a company of stereotypically butch/manly/masculine men. Johnsey, so far as I am aware, is indeed biologically male and expressed no interest in transitioning (though he was told by he company that, should he choose to, that would be a problem). He is not and never has been, so far as I am aware, "a female performer." He was still performing in drag, as part of what is indeed a drag troupe. Drag can be far more complex than just big butch men with chest hair peeking through their bodices and wigs on.

Are there any sources indicating that Johnsey's performances with the Trocks were no longer humorous or were lacking in "caricature of female appearance and mannerisms"? I don't recall seeing any evidence that the company found fault with his performances.

As far as who gets to set the boundaries of what it means to "dress and look like men offstage," I'm at a loss.

Edited by nanushka
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24 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Drag can be far more complex than just big butch men with chest hair peeking through their bodices and wigs on.

Maybe.  Most people would probably say that drag is intended to amuse,  not be a serious interrogation of gender identity.  I have straight friends who love it,  and  gay friends who hate it because they feel it demeans women.  Personally I feel that as entertainment,  a little drag goes a long,  long way.  As a female sctor,  I am not thrilled by performers like Alex Newell and Chase Johnsey taking roles from women.  

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake was all male,  produced with serious intent,  and there have been all male troupes before the Trocks.  As far as I know,  the Trocks are the only comedy ballet company mining gender stereotypes for laughs.   If you can't "bring the funny" it's not the right company for you.

Edited by On Pointe
Further thought.
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3 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Most people would probably say that drag is intended to amuse,  not be a serious interrogation of gender identity.

Drag has almost always been both, I believe. (It has a long and complex history.) And the two are not in any way mutually exclusive.

Edited by nanushka
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3 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Maybe.  Most people would probably say that drag is intended to amuse,  not be a serious interrogation of gender identity.  I have straight friends who love it,  and  gay friends who hate it because they feel it demeans women.  Personally I feel that as entertainment,  a little drag goes a long,  long way.  As a female sctor,  I am not thrilled by performers like Alex Newell and Chase Johnsey taking roles from women.  

So you feel as if Billy Porter is not a serious actor?

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2 minutes ago, canbelto said:

So you feel as if Billy Porter is not a serious actor?

That's a total non-sequitur.  Billy Porter likes to appear in elaborate dresses,  but he doesn't work in drag. A better example would be RuPaul.  Both are enormously talented and no doubt very serious about their careers,  but RuPaul is a serious drag artist and Porter is a serious musical and dramatic actor (who didn't receive the acclaim he deserves until he wore dresses.)

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10 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake was all male,  produced with serious intent,  and there have been all male troupes before the Trocks.  As far as I know,  the Trocks are the only comedy ballet company mining gender stereotypes for laughs.   If you can't "bring the funny" it's not the right company for you.

No, it wasn't all male, and nor did it have a role for a male dancer performing in drag and on pointe, as far as I recall, so I'm not sure how it's relevant to Johnsey's case.

Again, I don't recall hearing any complaints that Johnsey couldn't play the gender humor that the Trocks are known for.

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8 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

Johnsey wanted to be taken seriously as a female performer.  He wasn't going for the laughs any more.

But a surefire way to get the laughs is to play it straight.  And he wasn't the only one who wanted to be taken seriously as a female performer:  so does Carlos Hopuy, who is an exquisite ballerina with the Trocks.

Edited to add:  And the more expert someone is at the core of the comedy, the funnier it's always seemed to me.

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5 hours ago, nanushka said:

As far as who gets to set the boundaries of what it means to "dress and look like men offstage," I'm at a loss.

Is usually one's family who does, when we're little boys.

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29 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Is usually one's family who does, when we're little boys.

We’re talking about professional employment here. Somehow I don’t think “my mom and dad told me it was ok to wear / act like this” is going to be viewed by anyone at all as an appropriate citing of authority. Maybe in your workplace; not mine.

And in any case, that’s still confusing sex and gender identity/expression. To “dress and act like a man” is simply to be biologically male and to have on clothes. I’m pretty sure Johnsey fit those criteria for his employment.

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10 hours ago, nanushka said:

The Trocks bill themselves as "The World's Foremost All-Male Ballet Company.

According to their website,  the Trocks are "The World's Foremost All Male Comic Ballet Company".  Besides photos of the dancers in garish makeup,  the site has a photo of the dancers in conventional male attire.  Clearly they feel that their comedy is rooted in drag,  not gender fluidity.

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23 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

According to their website,  the Trocks are "The World's Foremost All Male Comic Ballet Company".  Besides photos of the dancers in garish makeup,  the site has a photo of the dancers in conventional male attire.  Clearly they feel that their comedy is rooted in drag,  not gender fluidity.

Drag is gender fluidity. By definition. Drag is the performance of a performance.

And yet again I ask:  What evidence is there that Johnsey’s performances were not considered sufficiently comic? What history is there at all of company dissatisfaction with his performances?

As you, @On Pointe, wrote:

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The management was wrong if they tried to police his off stage behavior.

 

Edited by nanushka
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The reality is that dancers,  from corps members to principals,  leave or are pushed out of ballet companies all the time,  for all kinds of reasons.  Johnsey was with the Trocks for a long time,  fourteen years.  Maybe it was just time to move on.

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45 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

The reality is that dancers,  from corps members to principals,  leave or are pushed out of ballet companies all the time,  for all kinds of reasons.  Johnsey was with the Trocks for a long time,  fourteen years.  Maybe it was just time to move on.

But what your comments here have been suggesting — and I think it's important to articulate it, and please tell me if I am incorrect in my summary — is that Johnsey offstage was too feminine, insufficiently butch, not manly enough, too womanish despite his biological maleness, to be a successful drag performer.

Edited by nanushka
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There is plenty of video evidence of the comic talents of Chase Johnsey. I don't know where this canard that he wasn't funny enough is coming from. 

 

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

But what your comments here have been suggesting — and I think it's important to articulate it, and please tell me if I am incorrect in my summary — is that Johnsey offstage was too feminine, insufficiently butch, not manly enough, too womanish despite his biological maleness, to be a successful drag performer.

I remember Johnsey stating just that, or something along the lines. That the company wanted him-(and everyone else)- to look more manly. The whole thing, according to him, started when he opted to act/dress/look more feminine offstage. That the company has the right or not to make such rules is probably subject to endless debate. And a formal investigation took place into the matters. And it is finished by now. 

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I'm really curious how a company can dictate that its dancers look "more manly" off the clock. If Johnsey is not performing he has the right to look however manly or not manly he wants (whatever those terms mean).

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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

But what your comments here have been suggesting — and I think it's important to articulate it, and please tell me if I am incorrect in my summary — is that Johnsey offstage was too feminine, insufficiently butch, not manly enough, too womanish despite his biological maleness, to be a successful drag performer.

You are incorrect.  How he presented himself offstage shouldn't matter to anyone but himself.  But Johnsey's desire to be seriously considered a ballerina clashed with the Trocks mission to be the world's foremost comic drag ballet company.  More than likely there were internal politics that we don't know about at play in the matter as well,  but dancers leave companies when they disagree with the artistic direction,  and companies drop dancers when they no longer conform to their particular aesthetic all the time.  Johnsey had a long run with the Trocks and he has landed a good position for himself.  Maybe he will dance female roles with his new company.  I honestly don't think there's much of an audience for men on pointe in tutus,  but maybe he will prove me wrong.

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3 hours ago, canbelto said:

I'm really curious how a company can dictate that its dancers look "more manly" off the clock. If Johnsey is not performing he has the right to look however manly or not manly he wants (whatever those terms mean).

Of course he has the right to dress as he wants offstage. Which is what he's doing right now.

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6 hours ago, On Pointe said:

But Johnsey's desire to be seriously considered a ballerina clashed with the Trocks mission to be the world's foremost comic drag ballet company.

Thank you for clarifying.

This (above) is the part that confuses me, then. What is your basis for asserting this? Is it something Johnsey has said? something representatives of the company have said? something you've witnessed in performances or elsewhere? Because this (as far as I know) isn't the reason Johnsey has given for his fallout with the company; quite the opposite, as I got the impression that he loved his work and was very good at it. (Of course I wouldn't suggest we should take his word as the sole, complete truth.)

So where does your idea about this particular "clash" come from? Because very much in line with @Helene's comments above, I don't see a clash there at all — particularly in light of the Trocks' repertoire and the particular ways in which they achieve their drag comedy. I think someone like Johnsey, who took being a ballerina very seriously, actually fits in quite perfectly.

Edited by nanushka
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