Interview: Faith

Today we’re joined by Faith. Faith is a wonderful artist who does a bit of everything. She paints, writes, sings, plays instruments, and draws. She’s most passionate about dancing. Faith loves to dance. It’s clear she’s a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do a large variety of different art forms such as dance, singing, acting, instruments, drawing, painting, and more. I think the one that I’ve focused on the most would be dance. Dance has been one of those things that I started super young, 5 years old, and I have continued to do for so many years. It is like a safe haven for me. It is a way for me to let go of the world around me and just let my emotions out. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it.

What inspires you?

Nature and emotions inspire me mostly. I guess some combination of the two. I always feel so at peace outside in nature, as cheesy as it sounds, watching a cloud roll by or the rays of the sun through the trees. A lot of my movement comes from watching a river flow or a leaf caught in the wind. Surprisingly or not so surprisingly rain and puddles are where I find some of my most interesting ideas. Nature is never stagnate, and there is a lot to be found in the ever changing world.

As for emotions, there are such hidden depths to every single person out there. The raw emotions people don’t normally see are such an interesting thing to experience or choreograph with. Music choice works extremely well with this too, as music is supposed to evoke feelings. A slow dramatic piece could work with feelings of longing or sorrow while an uplifting song could focus on joy or peace.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Kind of embarrassing but the Barbie movie the Nutcracker is what got me started dancing. I realize now that the dancing on there is very bad but hey, I was 5. At the time I thought it was the best thing I had ever seen and I have been hooked on art ever since. This obviously snowballed into so many different types of arts like music, visual, performing, to the point of I can’t imagine my life without art. It is so integral to who I am that I have never imagined being anything other than an artist.

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t have one specific thing that occurs in all of my dances. I guess one of the most common things that occurs would be using music from movie, TV, or video game soundtracks but I wouldn’t really call that a unique signature. I’m just a huge geek!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t let anyone bring you down. You don’t become a prima ballerina overnight and you will fall down. Nobody is perfect and we have to accept that. One of the biggest things I see when people start dancing is being constantly being discouraged by corrections or criticism. The best thing you can do is take the corrections and learn from them. You will grow as a dancer, an artist, and a person. You have to remember that everyone started where you are now, and they used hard work and dedication to achieve their dreams. “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I believe I am asexual and heteroromantic. I’m not entirely sure about the romantic side of me, I may be demiromantic, but I am definitely positive that I am asexual. I haven’t been in many situations where I can explore my sexuality further but that may just be because I generally avoid situations where people can give me romantic interest.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t really found that much prejudice is my field mainly because it is rarely talked about. That and most people I talk to don’t really know that much about asexuality. The main issue I have found is just the heteronormality and hypersexualized nature in the world. There are many dances that I have been in where the dance is fun until the choreographer decides to add in a sexualized section in order to draw the crowd in. It makes me uncomfortable to watch or perform and it is normally unnecessary.

I will say that where I perform, homosexual relationships are represented and choreographed which is quite refreshing. But there is no asexual representation.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That either we don’t exist or that people automatically assume that asexual people are all sex repulsed. I know that many of us don’t want sex, don’t like sex, or are even repulsed by it but there is a large amount of us who don’t mind sex. I don’t know where I fall on the whole sex spectrum but I do have an asexual friend who rants to me about the topic. She says that she enjoys the act of sex even if she isn’t sexually attracted to someone.

I guess another misconception that I have seen is that people would think that asexuality is just a low sex drive. An imbalance in chemicals. That it can be “fixed.” Asexuality is an orientation just like any other sexuality. There is nothing wrong with it nor is there anything wrong with an asexual person.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Have a good support system. One of the things that has helped me the most with my sexuality would be having people who understand and respect me. It has helped cure my insecurities and accept who I am.

Just remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us out there in the world who have been exactly where you are now. You are not broken. You are not weird or wrong or even a freak. There are people out there that can support you and that do accept you. There is more love for asexuals than hate. Focus on that.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I don’t post a lot of my work online but I do have some on my Instagram account. It is a private account so if you want to see anything just DM me and tell me you saw this post and I’ll let you follow me! At kitten0981.

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Thank you, Faith, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jessie Cook

Today we’re joined by Jessie “Jess” Cook. Jessie is a phenomenally talented theater artist. She does a number of artistic activities: art, dance, singing, and writing. However, her passion in life is the theater. Jessie plans to study theater in college. It’s clear she’s a very talented artist with an incredibly bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m involved with lots of different types of art. I draw and write as a hobby, but I do dance, theatre, musical theatre, and technical theatre at my school. I’m also in a Women’s Chamber Choir at my school. I also work at a haunted attraction as an actor! I’ve done theatre for 6 years, and I plan on studying it in college.

What inspires you?

The world around me inspires me, and my love and passion for my art. I have a constant drive to do better than what I’ve done before.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

When I was younger, I had always wanted to be an actress. Like any kid my age, I wanted to become famous and have a bunch of nice things. I did not realise how deep I would get into my craft. I started doing theatre and musical theatre in middle school, and I immediately fell in love. I owe my love for theatre to my middle school theatre teacher. She helped set the flame that has given me my passion for what I do.

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Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t have any unique symbol or anything in my acting. I do have a signature in my art, but it’s just my nickname in cursive. Nothing too special!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up! Your pace will be different than others, everyone’s pace to success is different. Also, do not be afraid of rejection! That just means your moment is not here yet, it will soon come! Keep improving yourself and let rejection help you mold your art. Know the difference between constructive criticism and nasty comments. Choose which comments to use, there will always be those comments that you agree with and ones that you don’t. It’s OK!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Asexual. Not interested in that kind of stuff.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

My asexuality is not known by anyone. I’m still in the closet when it comes to my asexuality.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The most common misconception about asexuality I see often times is that “asexual people do not belong in the LGBT+ community”. It’s sad that a community of inclusivity that preaches messages of being yourself and embracing yourself shuns people who are asexual. People state that acephobia does not exist, yet I see so much of it.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t rush yourself to find an orientation. It is OK to not know exactly what you identify with. It’s common to suddenly change your orientation. Just because you don’t fit into a perfect mold of an orientation doesn’t mean you don’t belong. It’s ok. Take your time. This is YOUR identity, it’s okay not to know who you are yet!

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

People who are interested in what I do can find me on multiple social media platforms! My theatre work is (sadly) strictly local, but I love talking about my work to other people. Don’t be afraid to talk to me or ask any questions. I don’t bite!

Twitter: at Jsle3
Tumblr: at Jsle3
Instagram (haunt page): at _cameliadoll_
Discord: at Jsle3#9381

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Thank you, Jessie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Freya Murphy

Today we’re joined by Freya Murphy. Freya is a phenomenal dancer from England who does ballet with a bit of contemporary thrown in. She has been dancing ballet for fifteen years. When she’s not dancing, Freya enjoys doing visual art and has worked in a wide variety of mediums. She mainly does charcoal drawings, oil paints, sewing, and ink painting but has also recently gotten into nail art. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mainly twofold: dance and the more traditional art of creating physical pieces.  When it comes to dance, I’m mainly a ballerina with a little bit of contemporary added in here and there.  My physical art is a mixture of all sorts – charcoal drawings from Life Class, clay sculptures, ink paintings, and some sewing.  My main and most favourite medium however is oil paint.  Oh, and I love doing my nails – I’ve done the ace flag on my nails several times whenever I’m attending LGBTQ+ events.

What inspires you?

Mainly my problems or difficulties in life haha.  I find it so much easier to create based upon my own personal experiences, as I find it more interesting and like it’s my own. So far, I’ve done projects on insecurities (more as a concept than any one specific insecurity), my eczema, my less than usual sleeping position (and my lack of sleep), and my bad eyesight. Seeing all of the amazing art that other artists have created and seeing what new and exciting directions that they have managed to push their art, certainly inspires me to try ideas even if I’m not certain of the results.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

When it comes to ballet, I’ve been doing it for just over 15 years, since I was three years old.  Over time, I’ve come to realise that it helps me with my social anxiety – I can perform in front of anywhere from 3 people to 400, and I only get the normal nerves, rather than the crippling anxiety I would normally get doing anything in front of any number of people.  I also just love the beauty of ballet, and the free feeling I get when dancing.  It has become such an intrinsic part of me.

For my physical art, I have taken it throughout school, all the way to A-level.  It was only at GCSE that I realised I had such a love for it, as that was when we were given so much more freedom to do what we wanted and make it very personal. However, looking back, I’ve always been creative in some way, and I have a very vivid imagination – often too vivid! I’ve also loved museums for as long as I can remember, always needing to visit at least one museum whenever I went to a new place.  In the past four years or so this has expanded to include art museums and galleries as well.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not so far, as I’ve just started to explore all the many possibilities of art that are out there, when you’re not restricted by trying to get the most marks in the exam!  I’m excited to find out where it goes next.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Experiment! Try things out! Art is one of those special places where you can try whatever you want, just to see what happens! Also, write down any ideas you have, or anything you find interesting.  In school we were given ‘visual diaries’ to write down anything relating to our art.  I have found it massively helpful, sometimes to just visualise your ideas, or sometimes to come back to when you’re struggling for an idea, or just to be nostalgic. I write everything in it, from the numbers of photos I want to print out, to artists I want to research or just like, to sketches of final pieces or about what materials or techniques did or didn’t work.  When your brain is always going 1000mph like mine and many others’ are, it helps to have something written down that you can physically flip back to, so that you don’t have to stress about forgetting it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a biromantic asexual.  I’ve identified as asexual for the past three or four years, but only just discovered about myself that I was biromantic in the past two or three months, so that part of me still feels very new to say and acknowledge.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve never experienced any when it comes to my art, thankfully, but then again, my work has never involved my asexuality – maybe that could be what my next project is about…

In my personal life I’ve experienced more ignorance than prejudice.  Most people tend to be accepting once they understand it, but it takes some people a while to wrap their heads around the idea for some strange reason.  Luckily close friends who don’t understand it have been accepting straight away, even when confused!  And I encourage them to not be afraid to ask me questions about it, as I always love to help people in any way – and I’d rather they asked me, than sat there confused and accidentally said something rude or ignorant to someone else.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we don’t want romance, or that a romantic relationship with me would be ‘boring’ (direct quote from a close friend).  Not all asexual people are aromantic, just as not all aromantic people are asexual.  Actually, a lot of people don’t realise that your romantic and sexual orientation can be different, and not just amongst aro/aces.  I should hope that a relationship with me isn’t boring (my boyfriend seems perfectly happy!), or if it is, then it’s due to my personality or something, and not my asexuality.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I’m still relatively new to discovering my asexuality, so I don’t have any major advice, but probably never let anybody tell you who you are, or that who you are is wrong.  Only you truly know who you are, better than anybody else, even if you’re still figuring it out.  They can help you on your journey by providing advice and support, but at the end of the day it’s yourself that you’re figuring out.  Oh, and don’t be afraid to try out different labels to work out which one fits you best – AND you don’t have to end up with any labels at all, if that’s what feels right to you! I went through a period of about half a year where I tried out different labels internally to figure what felt right, from homosexual to bisexual to demi sexual, to homoromantic to heteroromantic before I finally settled on biromantic asexual, and that might even change in 10 years’ time once I get to know myself even better than I do now!  It’s also fine if it takes you time to figure out who you are, as it can be a complex thing – we are all complicated simply by being human!

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Well I’ve just set up a new Tumblr blog for my art and ace things (along with newbie witch things and the occasional jacksepticeye reblog) where I’m going to start posting my art in the next week or so. It’s called freya-the-ace-artist.

My art account on Instagram is also very very new, but it’s called freyas_ace_art.

You’re welcome to have a look, it would be greatly appreciated

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Thank you, Freya, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sabrina

Today we’re joined by Sabrina, who also goes by how-to-sit-gay. Sabrina is a phenomenal writer and dancer from Germany. She has recently picked up fanfiction again after a five year hiatus. She started writing fanfiction over ten years ago and wrote in a variety of fandoms. When she isn’t writing fic, Sabrina writes a lot of original work, mostly short fiction and poetry. Aside from writing, Sabrina also danced quite a lot. She danced in a Gardetanzgruppe, which is part of carnival culture in Western and Southern Germany (for an example, here’s a video). My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

PENTAX Image

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It feels like I’ve been writing stories since I was able to spell my name, even though this might be far from true. I wrote my first proper fanfiction back in 2005, but I started writing poems and original stories before that, way back to when I was in elementary school. Since then I have written more short stories and poems than I can count, apart from fanfiction.

Gardetanz is a very special dancing style that is deeply rooted in the carnival culture of Western and Southern Germany. I started dancing when I was a wee little 7 year old and only stopped 17 years later when I moved away to a federal state that has no carnival traditions whatsoever and hence no dance group for me to join. I still miss it so much. Luckily, any kind of dancing or working with my body still comes naturally to me.

What inspires you?

Usually it is my latest obsession, which I think is not uncommon for fanfiction writers. I’m quite often inspired by songs – some lyrics fragment that just makes me immediately develop a scene in my head.

When it comes to original stories or poems I draw a lot from personal experience, especially when it’s about struggle or going into the dark places of one’s mind. I’ve only ever written two “happy” poems in my whole life, and that just to prove myself that I can.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Looking back, it seems like I was born with a pencil in my hand. Always either drawing or writing. And when I was not holding a pencil, I was running and dancing around. Little Me didn’t care for her 39.5 °C fever, she just needed to relentlessly jump and flail.

How and why I started dancing I is a simple story. Our across the street neighbour told my mother about starting a children’s dancing group in our local carnival club, and she thought this would be a nice way to have me use my pent up energy. It was one of her best decisions.

I never wanted to be any kind of artist, or at least I hadn’t planned to. In the end I just became Me with a raving passion to create stories, and to move my body.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t, except you count the main characters having a snarky and sarcastic kind of banter going on. This just happens naturally. But I’m actually thinking about implementing something like this now, like in Bones where there’s always a clock showing 4:47 in key scenes.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Go for it. And of course practice makes (almost) perfect. It’s actually a good sign when you look at your old work and cringe a little (or a lot in my case), because it shows that you’ve grown and improved yourself. This counts for works both of the mind and the body.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

It’s really hard to tell, the safest bet would be grey-asexual, but there are times when I go “full ace” for different lengths of time. As I have figured out thanks to my last relationship, if there is any sexual attraction to happen it definitely isn’t towards male identifying persons. Romantically I’m pan, though.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not personally, so far. I think when it comes to writing fanfiction where people try to live out their own fantasies (not necessarily sex-wise), there are a lot of misconceptions about ace writers. Yes, I am ace. Yes, I can enjoy reading smutty scenes. Yes, I am also capable of writing them myself and have already done so. No, I’m not an innocent child who squeals ‘ewwww’ as soon as the characters kiss.

I don’t know how it is with dancing. Luckily for me, Gardetanz isn’t a dancing style loaded with sexual undertones, even though the skirts are so short and your panties are visible most of the time. In my group there was never any other sexuality discussed than heterosexuality, so I don’t even know if my fellow dancers realised I was and still am utterly queer. In the end, probably the same common misconceptions apply there as in most other cases.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

First and foremost of course, that it doesn’t exist and I just haven’t had good sex yet. That it’s not natural. That I must have lived through some trauma but maybe can be ‘repaired’.

When I was looking for a therapist for my depression and anxiety, one said to me that I probably don’t want to have sex because I’m such a closed off person. That woman never saw me again.

And being on Tumblr for quite some time now, I noticed the astounding misconception that ace people don’t belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, that we’re basically just prude/virgin hets-to-happen. The first ones I can shrug off, the latter one really riles me up.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t doubt yourself and your feelings (or lack thereof), everything you experience and feel is valid. You don’t need to put a tag on yourself if you can’t or don’t want to. There are times it feels like the world just wants to spit in your face, but there will be a time all that sh*t will go away to make room for all the good things.

I basically try to live by some wise words by Charlie Chaplin: “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

After a very long writing hiatus, I finally published a fanfiction again. It can be found on AO3 under my username how_to_sit_gay. I’m thinking about uploading my old (English) RP fanfiction after re-reading and editing it as well, but this might take some time.

Said old tennis RPF can be found at poetry-of-dance.livejournal.com/tag/fic but I probably really have to revise them as they are more than 8 years old. Last but not least, a lot of my German short stories and (revised) fanfics (2006-2009) are on fanfiktion.de/u/AngelOfFreedom

Unfortunately there are no videos from our Garde performances online. You have to search YouTube for “Gardetanz” to get an impression of it.

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Thank you, Sabrina, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jo Troll

Today we’re joined by Jo Troll. Jo is a phenomenal dancer who has recently branched out into what they term artistic intervention. They do a lot of Irish dancing and they have danced contemporary styles in the past. They’re currently focused on tackling cisnormativity in dance. It’s clear they’re a passionate and dedicated artist with an important message, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a dancer/choreographer that’s branched out into installation art and other methods of “artistic intervention”. I’m originally an Irish step dancer who strayed from the path and got really interested in contemporary dance. After a year at a conservatoire, I got really fed up with the value system in a lot of contemporary dance worlds and have been moving back towards Irish dance. I say Irish dance because that includes contemporary (but not competition) Irish step, older styles of step dancing, and sean-nos, an improvisational percussive dance form. Recently, a lot of my work has centered around my trans identity and trans visibility, and I’m currently at a point of transition where I’m trying to figure out how to tackle other concepts while continuing to challenge cisnormativity in dance.

What inspires you?

Anger. Anything that makes me even the slightest bit angry. I even made a whole piece about anger inspired by the respectability politics I was managing at my school at the time (I’m also super petty and may have built an installation based on how to most inconvenience someone that was being transphobic). It’s hard to exist in the world without being angry and it’s even harder as someone with multiple invisible identities (nonbinary, trans, asexual, aromantic…) who is usually read as female because anger is so much more likely to be invalidated by people in power. Performing is my chance to express my anger and make people listen. If you pay to go see someone, you’re a lot more likely to listen to them than if they try to challenge you in the middle of a conversation. Even if you should probably listen in both circumstances (this is a very general you).

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Jane 3 [photo taken by an audience member]
What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

So, when I was ten, my mom was really sick of driving me to soccer games and bribed me out of soccer with Irish dance lessons. That’s the main story. I’ve had a lot of beginnings in dance, but I’ve probably known since I was eight or so that I was going to be a dancer. Since ten is actually a late start for dance, I’ve had a lot of insecurities which kept me from voicing that for a long time and gotten in my own way a lot of the time, but it’s always been knowledge that this was what I was going to do, not a wish or a desire.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Well, everyone that knows my work (i.e. the wonderful friends that help me workshop things) claim that it’s distinct. I’d say that’s more because there’s not a lot of non-competitive dancers doing work around queer identity than because there’s anything particular to me. The most signature thing that stays true between pieces is costume – I always wear a hat and I almost always wear a skirt. The hat is just because I like hats and feel vaguely naked without one. The skirt is a very specific form of protest – people struggle to see feminine FAAB nonbinary people as nonbinary because we don’t fit the standard “androgynous” look deemed acceptable for FAAB folks. So, when I do have all the power to make people listen, I want to look as feminine as possible while I do it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If a system isn’t working for you, that’s not your fault. It’s always fine to leave, say “no”, or even make your own system. This is very true for dance – it took me a long time to learn that if a ballet teacher made me feel icky, I didn’t have to go to their class – but I feel like it is probably true for other forms of art too. There are infinite ways to make things. If something doesn’t work for you, there’s always another way.

Also, surround yourself with people that care about your work. I have a great list of people I trust to give me both encouragement and constructive feedback. It is impossible to make work in a complete vacuum (there are artists who have tried, I know), so be picky about who you work with, and find the people who truly want to make your art as strong as it can possibly be, because that is how you will find support and growth.

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Photo by Olivia Blaisdell Photography / halfasianlens, courtesy of Dancing Queerly, 2018

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aroace. Probably.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Hehe. Quite recently, I was speaking on a panel on queer dance and I was responding to a question about asexual dance when I was interrupted mid-thought by another panelist who went on to talk about how they would never apologize for putting sex into their work. There’s a habit in dance, especially in queer dance, to focus on the sexual and see the nonsexual and the asexual as restrictive, backwards, and uninteresting. I can make work about transness and be brave. If I make work about asexuality, I’m regressive and “hurting the cause”.

I haven’t found my answer yet, but I’m working to really figure out what it means to dance asexually. I can make statements and comments as much as I’d like, but the most important thing is to keep owning the work that I make and who I am. If someone feels the need to go on the defensive about it, that’s their problem.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Heh. I think the biggest thing I see in dance, especially in queer art circles, is that somehow or other, asexuality threatens or denies the ability to claim and own other sexualities. Or, in other terms, that asexuality desexualizes other sexualities. I understand the threat for queer artists queer sexuality of all forms has been under attack for a long time, but it becomes a problem when this is used as an excuse to silence asexual voices. The possibility of asexuality does not negate the possibility of other queer sexualities, it is simply an expansion of what queer sexuality can be, which I find super exciting. I don’t have as much patience or understanding when allo, cis, straight dancers get up in arms about this too, but it does tell me that sexuality brings up lots of feelings for everyone. We just have to slowly untangle them. I would prefer it if all allo dancers would bother to look up the definition of asexuality before getting defensive though.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s OK to struggle. These things aren’t always easy. All you can do is own where you are right now.

Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Books with characters you relate to. Music that speaks to your heart. People that make you smile and feel like you are worth something. There are loads of recommendations out there for the young acespec and that can be helpful if you don’t know where to start, but don’t feel guilty if the thing that’s right for you isn’t in the ace community hivemind, or even explicitly ace-related. Take what’s right for you.

And make art. Art is a powerful tool for self-care and self-expression. Find the way it works for you and use it.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’ve got a website: jotroll.wordpress.com
And I blog a lot: jotdancing.wordpress.com
You can also find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/jotrolldance/
And on Tumblr at: https://jotrolldance.tumblr.com/

4. Jo Troll_Dance Shot - credit Ray Bernoff
Photo by Ray Bernoff

Thank you, Jo, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Phoebe

Today we’re joined by Phoebe. Phoebe is a phenomenal dancer who both dances and choreographs. She has danced regularly throughout school and with companies, but lately has mostly been dancing for herself. Phoebe has also recently taken up cooking and baking. She cooks both for baking and presentation. It’s clear she’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a dancer and choreographer, mostly just for myself these days, but in the past I have choreographed and performed with college dance clubs and teams, and companies affiliated with my dance studios before that. I’m not amazing, but I don’t think I’m terrible, either. When I’m not dancing, I love cooking and baking, both in terms of flavorful and presentational aspects.

What inspires you?

Is it cliché to say that music inspires me most of the time? I have what I affectionately call a “bad habit” of dancing to just about anything, especially if it’s something I hear often, including but not limited to TV show and podcast theme songs. If you pull up next to me at a stoplight, there is a 90% chance I’ll be choreographing to the radio. I love getting hooked in by a beat or a lyric and seeing what my body comes up with, or how I can express a feeling evoked by a song.

I am also constantly inspired by other dancers, both my friends and on YouTube, though I avoid watching any one video repeatedly when choreographing in an effort to avoid plagiarism. I am also inspired by figure skaters, especially since I took skating lessons myself for several years.

Alternatively, sometimes it helps me to start with an overarching theme and go from there. To give an example, my senior year of college my dance composition class put on a concert where the theme was The Four Seasons, and I was in charge of Autumn, so I was inspired by images of falling leaves, harvest, the idea of transition and change, folksy-sounding instrumentals, and a general Halloween-y spookiness.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

My parents put me in dance classes when I was three, because I would dance all over the house. To the best of my knowledge, I started choreographing when I was around eight, and since then I’ve always loved putting a dance together and seeing it come to life onstage. For a long time I wanted to be a professional dancer, until it became clear for multiple reasons why that wasn’t going to work out.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

If it’s a solo, there’s a 90% chance I will either: a) forget my own choreography and have to make something up on the spot, or b) realize about 2/3 of the way through that I made this too hard on myself and I have reached the limit of my endurance, but must power through anyway.

On a more serious note, I think that I tend towards big, more dramatic movements in my choreography. I also like incorporating visually interesting formations in my choreography whenever possible.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep practicing – even if you think you suck! Chances are you don’t suck nearly as much as you think you do, and you can’t improve unless you keep practicing. It also helps you stay in shape, so that when you finish a dance and want to record it, you can look your best doing it.

Also, do it for yourself, even if you’re not doing it for anybody else. Find studios and companies and communities where you feel supported and welcome, and that you genuinely love both the dances you choreograph and the ones you’re just a dancer in. Don’t try to imitate anyone else too closely, but make sure your dancing and your choreography feels true and authentic to you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual. I haven’t totally figured out my romantic orientation, but demiromantic is feeling like a good place for right now.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t encountered any because I haven’t been out to many people yet, and even fewer among people I’ve danced with. I have felt personally uncomfortable performing more overtly sexual choreography, so I’ve handled this by being selective about the choreographers I work with, and if an explanation is necessary, I’ll just respectfully say that while I like their style, I just don’t think it’s for me. So far, no one I’ve danced with has been offended.

I do worry that sometimes I use movements that I might see as sensual, but others might see as more sexual. The best advice I can give here is to be comfortable with yourself and your body, do what feels right for you, and remember that whatever behavior you decide to engage in in your personal life doesn’t have to be reflected in what you decide to do onstage.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That just because I’m not sexually attracted to someone, doesn’t mean I can’t love them deeply, or that I hate sex/would treat it as a commodity or something to be “earned” in a relationship. This mostly stems from past relationships.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I don’t know that I’m the best person to be giving advice on this, but I will say this: you know you best, and you’re the only one who can decide what labels work best for you, or if you want to have labels at all. And anyone who doesn’t respect your orientation and what you are and aren’t comfortable with isn’t worth it.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I have a small YouTube channel where I occasionally post videos of my work. It’s very sporadic because I’m no longer part of a studio or a company, but I upload when I can. This is my favorite solo project I’ve done so far, this is my most popular dance that I’ve ever choreographed, although I don’t dance in it, and this is my personal favorite group dance that I am also dancing in (kind of my baby from that year).

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Thank you, Phoebe, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sierra

Today we’re joined by Sierra. Sierra is a phenomenal poet and dancer. She uses art as an outlet. When she’s not choreographing dances, Sierra enjoys writing poetry. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with a great amount of enthusiasm, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a dancer and poet. I write or choreograph what I am feeling and use my art as an outlet for my emotions. I try to address issues and subjects many people deal with such as mental health, grief, etc. I think it is important for everyone to express themselves, and if my art can be used to help someone express themselves, I feel I have reached my goal.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by everything, but my main inspiration is people. When I see someone being purely themselves, I can see the art in them and want to be able to express that to others. I also get a lot of my inspiration from music of all kinds.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always loved the arts, specifically dancing. I grew up dancing and felt like it was the only thing I could relate to others through. As I got into high school I discovered a love for poetry and began to write. I have not published any of my work, but it is a goal I have for the future. Art has always been something very close to me.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

There isn’t anything special about my work. I just try to capture raw humanity and convey it to others.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and don’t worry about what others think. You will grow into a uniquely beautiful artist no matter what you do. Not everyone will love your work, but if you reach just one person and help them feel something, you have done the best you can as an artist. Push yourself to your artistic limits and allow your creativity to flow freely.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic-asexual. I consider myself sex-repulsed and between romance-neutral and romance repulsed.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not specifically in my field have I encountered prejudice or ignorance, but in life in general I find a lot of ignorance. So many people can’t understand how something so engrained in their minds can be non-existent in ours, and therefore ridicule us for it. I think as long as you can stand tall and ignore that hate that comes towards you, you can be whoever you want to be. Anyone and everyone is valid.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I’ve found the most common misconception of asexuality is what it actually means and that it is different for everyone. Many people don’t understand asexuality and try to decide for themselves what it is. They then have an incorrect idea and/or opinion of asexual people which can be hard to change.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

If you embrace who you are, you will feel amazing. Its okay if you don’t know what that is yet, you will figure it all out in due time. If you don’t feel like coming out yet, then don’t. Just know that the ace community is such a loving family that is always looking for new members.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find out more about my work on my Tumblr, at poeticaceinspace. P.S. I’m pretty bad about keeping up with my blog but I’m trying to get better.

Thank you, Sierra, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.