It's National Bullying Prevention Month—and Houston Ballet breakout star Harper Watters is exactly the advocate young dancers facing bullying need. Watters is no novice when it comes to slaying on social media, but his Bullying Prevention Month collaboration with Teen Vogue and Instagram is him at his most raw, speaking about his own experiences with bullies, and how his love of dance helped him to overcome adversity. Watters even penned an incredible op-ed for Teen Vogue's website, where he talks candidly about growing up queer. Catch his amazing anti-bullying video here—and, as Watters says, "Stay fabulous, stay flawless, stay flexible, but most importantly, stay fearless."
The dance field seemed geared to press forward with positivity; a change.org petition urging "GMA" to cover the benefits of ballet for young men has gathered over 40,000 signatures, and many are examining the ways in which the #boysdancetoo movement can be made more inclusive. This made it all the more disheartening to open Instagram this morning and see that Fox News commentatorsRaymond Arroyo and Laura Ingrahamtook the bullying a step further last night, mocking Spencer's apology on a program called "The Ingraham Angle."
On August 20, pop goddess Lizzo tweeted, "Someone do a ballet routine to truth hurts pls," referring to the anthem that's been top on everyone's playlists this summer. Lizzo might not know it yet, but ballet dancers are not known for shying away from a challenge. In the past two days, the internet has exploded which responses, with dancers like Houston Ballet's Harper Watters and American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall tagging the singer in submissions.
Below are a few of our favorites so far, but we're guessing that this is just the beginning. Ballet world, consider yourselves officially challenged! (Use #LizzoBalletChallenge so we know what you're up to.)
Ralph Lauren is kicking off the celebration bright and early with a gender-neutral capsule collection featuring a rainbow version (naturally) of its pony logo. And the brand chose a bunch of influential LGBTQIA+ community members to model the looks—including our favorite danseur in heels, Houston Ballet soloist Harper Watters.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Happy Thanksgiving, dance friends! Since today is a day for reflection and gratitude (and eating...so much eating), I asked my fellow Dance Spirit editors to tell me the dance-world things they're most grateful for. Here's what they had to say:
American Ballet Theatre's Aran Bell (photo by Nathan Sayers)
There's a new generation of danseurs on the rise—and they're more than just technical standouts (though, yes, they're seriously talented). Forget feeling defensive or self-conscious about wearing tights: These men are unabashedly embracing their artistry. Onstage and online, they're celebrating the power and allure of the male dancer. Here are eight young phenoms redefining what it means to be a ballet boy. —Margaret Fuhrer