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Genderfluid dancer in PNB Professional Division classes


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Sadly I'm geo-blocked from the article but I don't think he is unique in wanting to learn to dance on pointe.

Apart from the Trocks, I have seen male dancers on pointe occasionally and, of course, Bottom in Ashton's The Dream, is a pointe role.

 

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The point is, roles like Bottom in Ashton's The Dream and the stepmother in Nureyev's Cinderella, adds a comic touch by dancing on pointe. Also there are works like La Maison de Bernarda by Mats Ek where the mother (played by a male dancer) wears pointe to show the power she has in the family.  

I know some male dancers do practice on pointe to strengthen their technique. But if you see Ashton Edwards's Instagram, it is a totally different meaning. 

 https://www.instagram.com/ashtonedwards14/

Dancing beautifully, gracefully on pointe means a lot to this dancer.

It is very interesting to see the hashtag #menonpointe on Instagram and see various male dancers training pointe technique and dancing on pointe in many styles.  They are trying to break the sterotype of gender in dance, and it is important that the ballet school recognizes the importance of formal training on pointe.  

 

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The tv interviewer said KING5 received a message from a viewer who said they should know Ashton's story and share it.   I'm so glad she or he sent that message!  His GoFundMe donations are growing!!!

In the tv interview it showed Ashton dancing both male and female roles, and to naomikage's point, the female roles were not comedic, they were beautiful and graceful.  If I were sitting in the balcony of the opera house, I wouldn't know that a young man was dancing instead of a young lady.

I am fascinated by this young man.  His IG account has videos of him practicing pirouttes and fouette turns in a narrow outdoor terrace.  He has no fear!  It will be really interesting to see how far he goes and if he will be cast in female roles some day.  That may make him more competitive in the job market.  I can't wait to see him cast/dance in the Next Step program this year!

It's great PNB is open to men training on pointe.  Also at the beginning of the interview I noticed his pointe shoes are color matched to his skin, not stock light pink shoes - very important.

 

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Colorism - favoring white and lighter shades of skin over darker shades - is rampant in the ballet world,  as in other aspects of society.   So forgive my skepticism over the media promotion of a darkskinned "non-binary" Black dancer.  There are only a handful of Black female dancers in major ballet companies,  and nearly all of them are lightskinned.  While Ashton Edwards looks to be a tremendous talent,  he justifies the suspicions of Black Americans of the ongoing efforts to emasculate Black men in entertainment and the arts.  I don't want to see him or any other male-bodied dancer cast in a female role.  If men want to dance on pointe,   choreographers need to stage new ballets specifically for them.

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3 hours ago, On Pointe said:

While Ashton Edwards looks to be a tremendous talent,  he justifies the suspicions of Black Americans of the ongoing efforts to emasculate Black men in entertainment and the arts.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but presumably being "emasculated" is only a problem if one wants to be perceived as essentially masculine — which this dancer apparently does not. Is the implication that he should personally make himself more traditionally masculine to prevent other Black men in the arts from being emasculated?

Edited by nanushka
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4 hours ago, nanushka said:

Is the implication that he should personally make himself more traditionally masculine to prevent other Black men in the arts from being emasculated?

No.  Ashton Edwards can present himself however he likes.  But there is a long history of mainstream media putting forth feminized images of Black men,  who have long been considered hypermasculine and sexually aggressive,  especially dangerous to white women.  Broadway star Billy Porter's career did not take off when he dressed conventionally,  but he has garnered enormous praise,  and bigger roles,  since he began wearing elaborate gowns and headgear at red carpet events.  He was just as talented when he wore suits.

Black comedians talk about how they are constantly pressured to "just put on a dress,  it'll be hilarious".  Dave Chapelle,  who was the creator and star of the biggest show on Comedy Central,  has often spoken of how he was needled to wear a dress by his own white staff.  It's a bone of contention in Black media.

My concern with the coverage of Edwards is how he is being " signal boosted" and praised for being non-binary and dancing on pointe,  when an equally talented Black woman,  with the same skin color,  would get very little attention.  Contrary to widely-held belief,  notably by white liberals,  Black Americans are not rabidly homophobic.  But I'm certain there isn't much desire to see yet another talented Black man in earrings and a tutu.  White people love the image a bit too much for our taste.

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42 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

But I'm certain there isn't much desire to see yet another talented Black man in earrings and a tutu.  White people love the image a bit too much for our taste.

I understand your concerns, but I guess the problem is that sounds an awful lot like telling queer people (using the term in its broadest, non-derogatory sense), "Do what you want, but just don't flaunt it" — don't make us look at it, don't advertise yourself, stay in the shadows. Which is yet another classic form of oppression.

Edited by nanushka
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I don't think people are drawn to this because of gender, but simply because it's something "new", and media likes to make a big deal out of "innovation" in art.  But really there's nothing special here (any more than any other talented dancer).  If males wanted to train their bodies to have lean muscles to look more feminine, they could.  But they're busy lifting weights to be able to gracefully lift females over their heads.  Can they do both?  Maybe...but focusing in on either traditional male or female roles exclusively will only make you better in those roles.

Hope I didn't say anything offensive.

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7 hours ago, nanushka said:

 

I understand your concerns, but I guess the problem is that sounds an awful lot like telling queer people (using the term in its broadest, non-derogatory sense), "Do what you want, but just don't flaunt it" — don't make us look at it, don't advertise yourself, stay in the shadows. Which is yet another classic form of oppression.

That's not at all what I am saying and I don't know how you could come to that conclusion from what I wrote.  While there is a diversity of ethnicity at PNB,  the entire company looks about the same skin color.  A Black woman  with Edwards'  look,  has never been hired by PNB.  (Nice publicity,  but Edwards is a student at their school and there's no guarantee that they will actually hire him,  let alone let him perform on pointe.). He's being otherized and exoticized.

Black Americans know a bit about oppression.  Not being a fan of Black men in media in makeup and earrings is not it.

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16 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

That's not at all what I am saying and I don't know how you could come to that conclusion from what I wrote...

Black Americans know a bit about oppression.  Not being a fan of Black men in media in makeup and earrings is not it.

I guess the impact of your words (on me personally) was not the same as their intent. I quoted one of the parts that made me think what I described. It wasn't a conclusion, just a concern. 

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20 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Colorism - favoring white and lighter shades of skin over darker shades - is rampant in the ballet world,  as in other aspects of society.   So forgive my skepticism over the media promotion of a darkskinned "non-binary" Black dancer.  

 One local TV interview is hardly a media blitz.

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40 minutes ago, dirac said:

 One local TV interview is hardly a media blitz.

I never said that it was a media blitz.  But being featured on the local news is far more attention than most ballet students get,  not to mention the Go Fund Me which has raised a considerable sum.

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20 hours ago, On Pointe said:

Black comedians talk about how they are constantly pressured to "just put on a dress,  it'll be hilarious". 

It's a sure-fire laugh, and I can think of very many instances of white comedians doing it. On Monty Python's Flying Circus alone it was done dozens of times. 

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If nothing else,  the events of the past week have demonstrated that Black Americans do not receive the same treatment,  or necessarily have the same world view,  as other Americans.  The sexuality and sexual identity of Black men,  and women,  is under constant attack.  This is a hot button issue that white Americans might be totally unaware of.  There is definitely a strong conviction that feminized Black men are being thrust into the spotlight,  and rewarded,   to the detriment of the community.  You may disagree,  or even find it silly,  but you cannot tell Black people how they should feel.

Through the centuries,  men have used wearing dresses,  drag and other forms of "womanface" to get a laugh.  Presumably because they wanted to.  That's not the same as being told you have to do it,  whether you like it or not.  But that's not the gist of my skepticism.  There are many talented young black women in ballet who,  in this day,  have very limited prospects because they have skin that's closer to Ashton Edwards' complexion than Misty Copeland's.  They dance on pointe,  too.  But it's the Black boy who takes on a feminine persona who gets the attention.  (If PNB hires him,  would they dare cast him in female roles?  Would they let him dance male roles wearing earrings with his hair in a bun with bangs?  Most companies don't allow their male dancers to even have facial hair.)

5 hours ago, canbelto said:

Being gender fluid is not a choice nor is it a publicity stunt. Implying so is feeding into transphobic talking points.

These days,  no matter what the word or the subject,  all roads seem to lead to transphobia.  Mr. Edwards is not trans.  Trans is not part of the discussion.

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6 hours ago, canbelto said:

Being gender fluid is not a choice nor is it a publicity stunt.

Indeed. I rewatched the interview and although the segment wasn't apparently made at Edwards' instigation he seems to me very much a subject with agency, not an otherized and exoticized object. Suggesting that he shouldn’t appear in media still sounds to me like a troubling move of erasure.

57 minutes ago, On Pointe said:

This is a hot button issue that white Americans might be totally unaware of.  There is definitely a strong conviction that feminized Black men are being thrust into the spotlight,  and rewarded,   to the detriment of the community.  You may disagree,  or even find it silly,  but you cannot tell Black people how they should feel.

Similarly, a straight/non-queer person may be totally unaware of how their dismissing of gender queer people (e.g. by suggesting they should not appear in media representations) is perceived. They may disagree and not understand how their words could be perceived in that way, but when queer people say that their words are having that impact, I think those people should be taken seriously.

And similarly too, as I am white, if I am told by a non-white person that something I or another person has said is racist or racially insensitive, I take that seriously.

Edited by nanushka
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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Trans is not simply getting the operation. Gender fluidity is part of the trans movement. 

Mr. Edwards is capable of defining himself.  As he has not called himself trans,  why should we?

 

47 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Similarly, a straight/non-queer person may be totally unaware of how their dismissing of gender queer people (e.g. by suggesting they should not appear in media representations) is perceived. They may disagree and not understand how their words could be perceived in that way, but when queer people say that their words are having that impact, I think those people should be taken seriously.

Nothing I have written dismisses gender queer people.  I don't say they shouldn't appear in media.  I say that Black people sometimes sense an agenda when and where they do.  I sincerely do not understand individuals who are so fragile that the mere thought of someone having a different point of view is perceived as an attack.  How do they get through life?

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You're saying because of his race he should silence a big part of his own identity as a gender fluid dancer. I'm sorry, but that sounds like trying to erase his identity because of what you believe HIS motivations should be. 

Perhaps he identifies more strongly as a queer, gender-fluid dancer than a black person. Maybe he doesn't see the wrong in trying to identify as both. You can be one and the other at the same time. Being a strong representative of your race does not, in fact, necessitate any canceling of your sexual identity. I'm disturbed you seem to think it does.

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22 hours ago, On Pointe said:

I never said that it was a media blitz.  But being featured on the local news is far more attention than most ballet students get,  not to mention the Go Fund Me which has raised a considerable sum.

This is what you wrote:

Quote

  So forgive my skepticism over the media promotion of a darkskinned "non-binary" Black dancer.  

If media promotion is happening, the implication is that someone must be doing the promoting. That's a lot to make out of a human interest feature on local news. I doubt if Edwards is taking attention away from other students, since studying ballet in and of itself isn't terribly newsworthy. 

Quote

There are many talented young black women in ballet who,  in this day,  have very limited prospects because they have skin that's closer to Ashton Edwards' complexion than Misty Copeland's.

Very possibly.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

You're saying because of his race he should silence a big part of his own identity as a gender fluid dancer. I'm sorry, but that sounds like trying to erase his identity because of what you believe HIS motivations should be. 

Perhaps he identifies more strongly as a queer, gender-fluid dancer than a black person. Maybe he doesn't see the wrong in trying to identify as both. You can be one and the other at the same time. Being a strong representative of your race does not, in fact, necessitate any canceling of your sexual identity. I'm disturbed you seem to think it does.

Again,  you're twisting my words to fit your mindset.  Mr. Edwards,  like Billy Porter,  can do whatever he wants,  wear whatever he wants,  identify however he wants.  I don't care about his motivations.  My concern is the hypocrisy of a school and company championing a Black male dancer  who dances on pointe and has a feminine presentation,  but has never hired a Black female dancer of similar appearance.

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14 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

It's a sure-fire laugh, and I can think of very many instances of white comedians doing it. On Monty Python's Flying Circus alone it was done dozens of times. 

British sketch comedians tend to do it more than Americans - Benny Hill and "Little Britain" come to mind.  There are a few well known individual drag characters in American sketch comedy - Dana Carvey's Church Lady, Harvey Korman's yenta, and lmspear has mentioned Flip Wilson's great Geraldine Jones.  Dan Aykroyd's Julia Child, bleeding to death on camera after cutting herself while demonstrating how to debone a chicken, was a memorable one-off.  

James Cagney started off in vaudeville as a female impersonator. But I digress.

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