Updated: Jun 10
Welcome back to another STU Arts Blog, it is officially summer and Pride Month! STU Arts dance wants to celebrate Pride our own little way by celebrating some influential, proud, and loved LGBTQ+ dancers. This blog is dedicated to sharing all sorts of diversity within the Dance Industry and 6 influential LGBTQ+ dancers you should check out. LETS GO!
1. Merce Cunningham
Modern dancer Merce Cunningham is considered to be one of the most influential choreographers and dancers in American Modern Dance for more than 50 years. Throughout his seven-decade career (wow!) He has choreographed more than 200 dances and 800 site-specific works. He founded the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, USA and has frequently collaborated with many different artists, musicians, designers and architects. Many of his most famous works are in collaboration with composer John Cage, his life partner. Cunningham has earned some of the highest honours within the arts and dance industry including the National Medal of Arts and the MacArthur Fellowship. His work had him travelling across the world and has been presented in prominent companies such as New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and London’s Rambert Dance Company.
Learn more about Merce Cunningham here
2. Chase Johnsey
Chase Johnsey is an American Ballet Dancer who is the first out genderfluid dancer to join a “female” ensemble of an international ballet company. As a former principal dancer with Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo and former first artist with The English National Ballet, Johnsey is set to change the rather strict binartist forms of dance within ballet. Chase Johnsey, who still uses he/him pronouns is using his voice to create an inclusive narrative and future with the classical ballet company Ballet Manifesto.
Follow Chase here
3. Jayna Ledford
Jayna Leford’s story is one of courage, bravery and strength as she came out as trans while on a full “male” scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. Unfortunately Janya lost her scholarship, however that didn’t stop her as she took a year off to train fully as a female dancer and master her technique on pointe. She is now attending Montclair State University where she dances and is a science major. Among both, she is also an LGBTQ+ advocate and celebrates her Filipino culture. She acts as a support to all aspiring trans dancers and has had the support of many famous dancers.
Learn more about Jayna’s story here
4. Katy Pyle
Katy Pyle is a genderqueer lesbian dancer and choreographer who founded Ballez, a company with a focus on creating opportunity and representation for queer dancers within the ballet world. Starting dancing at the age of 3, Pyle fell in love with the art form, and at age 14, started fully training at North Carolina School of the Arts. While at school she became interested in choreography and went on to study myriad experimental and post-modern dance at Hollins University. It was then she formed “Adult Ballez Class” and has been ongoing at Brooklyn Arts Exchange since. She then brought this program to Princeton, Yale, Movement Research, , CounterPULSE (San Francisco), University Musical Society, Irreverent Dance (London), New York University and many more.
Check out Ballez here
5. Sean Dorsey
Award winning San Francisco based choreographer, dancer, writer, artist and cultural activist Sean Dorsey is recognized as the U.S.’ first acclaimed male transgender modern dance choreographer. Dorsey’s acclaimed work had him travelling to work in over 30 cities and teaches trans-positivity in over 35 cities. When Dorsey is’nt working he amplifies the voices of other trans artists through Fresh Meat Productions, which is an America’s first organization to create, present, multidisciplinary transgender arts programs.
Follow Sean here.
6. Travis Wall.
American dancer, instructor and choreographer Travis Wall is a 10x Emmy nominee and 2X Emmy winner for his work on American Reality TV Show So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD). He rose to fame in 2006 while competing on the same show and started choreographing for SYTYCD starting in 2012. Wall is openly gay and advocates for the rights of all LGBTQ+ individuals and fights for more representation in the dance industry. Since then Wall has choreographed for Off-Broadway musical “The Wrong Man” and is artistic Director for Shaping Sound Dance Company.
Follow Travis here.
Pride month is a great way to celebrate, encourage and uplift everyone, and what better way to celebrate than by dancing. Dance has no gender, and can be utilized and expressed by everyone; there is no limit to who can dance and what dance is. Take the time to uplift LGBTQ+ voices and celebrate their work and contribution to the dance industry. If you have been inspired and would like to start your dancing journey, be sure to check us out and what we have to offer! Click here to learn more about our classes and here on how to get registered!
Happy Pride Month!
Peace and Love from the STU Arts Dance Team! :D