#Art + Culture

#QueertheBallet: Know Everything About The Movement Started By Adriana Pierce

Queer The Ballet: Here’s everything that you need to know about the movement to revolutionise the ballet world by Adriana Pierce. 

Times are gradually changing and we are breaking away from the reins of viewing cis-gender and heterosexuality as the default and ideal norm, i.e. cis-heteronormativity, many queer people are getting their much-deserved voice and opportunities that they were earlier deprived of. Consequently, various social spaces have been progressing towards creating the expanse for the inclusion and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community. Adriana Pierce has taken up an endeavour with the same motive as well.

Adriana Pierce is a ballet dancer, choreographer, and actor based in New York City, USA. She has started the movement #QueertheBallet with the noble goal of empowering queer female and non-binary performers in the ballet dance form.

Adriana Pierce (Credits: Bridge Street Theatre)

The distinguished ballet dancer aims to provide visibility and inclusion of queer dancers, who remain largely excluded from the classical dance. Furthermore, she is also determined to bring change and fight against homophobia within the members of the institutional framework of dance.

First Project under #QueertheBallet

Her first project as a part of the movement is pas de deux en pointe choreographed on the American Ballet Theatre dancers Remy Young and Sierra Armstrong. Pas de deux is a ballet dance duet where two dancers, typically a male and a female, perform ballet steps together. It is mostly a suite of dances sharing a common theme, often symbolic of a love story; the dancers portray expressions of affectionate feelings and thoughts between romantic partners.

Hence, Adriana is aiming to shatter the heteronormativity in the portrayal of love in dance with her choreography, slated to be performed at Bridge Street Theatre, New York on February 25. The performance will also be live-streamed on Youtube.

Adriana explained how she wanted to bring out the authentic, complex and pure relationship between two women and how they communicate and connect through ballet. “I want people to see that ballet can be more than a man lifting a woman in a tutu,” she further added.

Adriana Pierce on LGBT+ exclusion in ballet

Shortly after the ballet dancer joined Miami City Ballet, someone watched her train and passed an unsolicited assessment, “Is Adriana a lesbian? Because she looks like one.” The comment made Adriana delve into self-scrutiny. She contemplated, “Does my dancing look gay? Do I look different? I am different – is that OK?”

That is when she realised that she rarely felt represented and visible in the classical dance form that she is devoted to. She expressed, “Queer women aren’t even on the radar in our space. I sometimes experience obvious homophobia, but the worst of it is microaggression. I’m never considered. People don’t even have the idea that women may deviate from the image they expect as a professional ballet dancer.”

Breaking the gender-based movement system

Adriana not only aims to provide visibility to queer women and non-binary people, but also break the traditional gender-based movement system in ballet and reinvent the structural codes embedded in the dance.

In ballet, there are strict movements accorded to men and women. For instance, men are trained to jump higher and can show more effort. Meanwhile, women should seem to be at the mercy of the breeze. Furthermore, femininity played an instrumental role in driving the traditional way of the dance, which led to the perception that queer women aren’t ‘feminine’ enough to dance perfectly.

Adriana revealed that the overhead lift is not there in her choreography. “If someone on stage is lifting another person overhead, the point is that not everyone can do it. In my opinion, it makes the exercise incredibly gendered. I want to make it feel like one of those partners doesn’t have that many agencies,” the pioneering dancer and choreographer explained.

Adriana admitted that pointe dance is also used as a ‘gender qualifier’ for ballet. It is a iconic technique in which the ballet dancer performs on the tips of fully extended feet and supports her/his body weight. She said, “If a man and a woman are on stage together and the woman is pointe, it makes her stand out. She should be manipulated and turned. But I want to redefine the pointe work through choreography.”

She told that she wanted to use the technique as a skill, not as something which makes women stand out. “When two women dance together, they’re not new, they’re equalizers. They’re in the same space at the same level,” she added.

About Adriana Pierce’s upcoming project

With her upcoming choreography to be performed by Remy Young and Sierra Armstrong, she plans to develop a specific dance vocabulary for women as partners. 

“I would like to see what the two bodies can do with pointe, the other probably not dead-lifting'” she further added.

Sierra Young also said that she was intrigued by the project and agreed to perform in order to experiment. She said, “There are physical differences when it comes to strength and what is required of each of us. I need to use my body in a different way.”

Moreover, Adriana imagined the audience’s reaction when her choreography will be performed later this month. She said, “I want people to see it and be like, ‘Yeah, beautiful, it’s ballet, it’s ballet!’.”

“Through #QueertheBallet, I want to empower other queer women and non-binary people who feel invisible in the form of her art. I don’t want anyone to feel that they can’t defend themselves because no one can think they exist. Ballet needs to know that we are and we are her,” she added.