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Article: Celebrating International Day of Transgender Visibility

Celebrating International Day of Transgender Visibility
ballet

Celebrating International Day of Transgender Visibility

Imperfect Pointes aims to create a space where all dancers feel included, seen and welcomed in our community.
International Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual event on March 31 dedicated to celebrating transgender or non-binary people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society. To highlight this, and show our support, we had the pleasure of interviewing Max Richter (they/them) a non-binary ballet dancer with Ballett Zürich. 
  1. Tell us about your journey so far in terms of your self-discovery and eventually identifying as Trans / Non binary.

    What I’d like to highlight about my transition is the moment I had to choose to acknowledge that I am a trans person. I had always just wanted to experiment with my appearance. I remember how euphoric it was to see my self expression transform.
    I started noticing how it made me feel when people called me Max or when I cut my hair short.
    I cut my hair short for the first time because I had seen a video of myself, and from the angle the camera was recording my hair looked like I had a pixie cut. As soon as I saw it I thought, ‘it’s time to cut my hair short.’ Then there came a moment in time when I felt I had to make a choice about how I addressed it to the people in my life. At first, it felt like I would be annoying if I asked people to change how they were referring to me, especially if I had to correct them. I didn’t know when would be the right time to start correcting people, or when to bring it up in conversation. It just felt random,  but then eventually, it started feeling not random for me, and I realized I actually really enjoyed saying things about my gender out loud and that my closest friends supported me and were curious about the topic. The best way I can describe how I feel now is - now the fluidity of my gender feels comfortable. I’m really in tune with my expression and really enjoy discovering what that means from day to day.



  2. How does being Trans translate into ballet and your day to day work?


    Being a professional ballet dancer entails being an actor and playing different roles. It also entails being collaborative in the processes of creating new works, or re-staging of abstract works, which in turn allows me to express emotion and movement through my own identity. I do also plan on choreographing my own works to highlight movement and expression that somehow doesn’t fall under either category. It’s clear this profession can capture a very well rounded and fulfilling scope of things for trans and non-binary people and I believe we will continue to move forward in pursuit of inclusivity.

  3. Tell us about your ballet career so far and how you arrived in your current role!

    Moving to Europe has been a goal of mine since I was a young dancer. In all honesty, I was happy living my life (at Houston Ballet) and waiting for a sign from the universe it was time. Then I met and worked with Cathy (Cathy Marston) and the way we worked together made so much sense to me. She was interested in collaborating on choreographic vocabulary, and she held an environment in which I felt safe being vulnerable, making suggestions, and considering details. That’s why I made the decisions to ask for an audition and eventually join Ballet Zurich. I already feel I’ve learned so much about dance and about myself in my first season here. 



  4. What advice would you give to any young people who are pursuing ballet as a career and who might be thinking about their identity?


    This is my advice for people in a similar situation to myself -
    Ask yourself questions and don’t question yourself. Question to learn more about yourself, not to doubt yourself.

    Share with others when you feel safe and ready. You don’t have to have answers about your identity immediately. My view on my gender is that it is something I feel is constantly morphing, and I’m open to the idea it may always be. If you are in the situation where you are pursuing a career in ballet and are questioning your gender, please surround yourself with supportive people in the queer community. When you feel comfortable, advocate for yourself by having conversations with leadership about what will make you the most comfortable. You deserve to be seen and change happens when we talk! 


  5. I am really interested in how what you wear for ballet (and outside the studio too), helps your self expression - tell us about it!


    One of the main ways I express my gender is through my clothing. To me, clothing has no gender so I’m drawn to mixing many different textures and styles to create an androgynous look. I also just wear combinations of clothing that I think look good and interesting to me. I like unique shapes in clothing. The majority of my clothes are thrifted or upcycled from friends or myself. I also like tying in some nostalgia, which can create a story. I wear a lot of clothes from my grandma, my mom, and my partner’s parents as well. It’s really a meaningful and special feeling to give purpose back to old clothes. I have also made some ballet skirts and ballet leotards for myself to use up the scrap fabric that I had lying around. Every day I wake up feeling differently about what I want to wear and I use this canvas as an artistic outlet. Sometimes things don’t quite make sense, but I like taking risks and wearing things that are more unexpected. 



  6. Are their any non-binary dancers you admire in ballet and that we should be looking out for?


    A person I really look up to in the LGBTQ+ ballet community is Leroy Mokgatle, who dances in Staatsballett Berlin, she dances with ease, fluidity, precision, and abandon. I am constantly inspired by her. Her instagram is @leroy_mx.

  7. What do you think about the role brands in the dancewear industry can play? What attracts you to Imperfect Pointes?

    I was drawn to Imperfect Pointes because your message is literally ‘You don’t have to be perfect.’
    I find value in the fact that being your true authentic self will be the most perfect and imperfect thing. There’s so much beauty in that. My happiness stems from my ability to be myself.

  8. What items in our collection do you see yourself wearing?


    I love love love the black tights by Imperfect Pointes! I was introduced to them by my colleague, Shelby aka Biscuit Ballerina. Truly such comfortable fabric and they’re incredibly flattering. They have the best waistband I’ve ever experienced in ballet tights. I wear black tights a lot in my ballet wardrobe. It’s imperative I have dance tights that are comfortable since I spend a majority of my time in ballet attire. I also love the simplicity of this Freedom leotard in Red and Oyster that I chose for the photo shoot and it works so well with the pink tights.

  9. You appear to be someone for whom style and sustainability go together naturally - can you tell us a bit more about your approach to being sustainable? 

    A lot of my dancewear is thrifted or traded from friends. Leotards have a lot of life and can be recycled easily! I also reuse the ribbons and elastics on multiple pairs of pointe shoes. 

  10. What's coming up next for you? 

    I have a few exciting things up my sleeve but here is one I can talk about. ;) My first choreography ‘Out of the room‘ will premiere on June 25 in the Next Generation dancers choreographic programme with Ballett Zürich. 

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