Sunday, 1 July 2018

Chase Johnsey

Civil Service Club
Author Philafrenzy
Licence Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4 International
Source Wikipedia

On 9 July 2018 at 19:30 Gerald Dowler will interview the American dancer Chase Johnsey at the Civil Service Club for the London Ballet Circle (see Chase Johnsey, in conversation with Gerald Dowler on the "Events" page of the London Ballet Circle website).

Johnsey has been in the news for appearing in a female character role in the English National Ballet's recent production of The Sleeping Beauty even though registered at birth as a boy (see Roslyn Sulcas How Sleeping Beauty got woke: Meet ballet's first male ballerina 12 June 2018 Independent). Earlier in the year Johnsey left Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo which also gave rise to a lot of press attention.

Those news stories may fascinate some but the most interesting press report for me was the announcement on 6 Feb 2017 that Johnsey had won the Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer in 2016 (see 2016 National Dance Awards – Winners Announced 6 Feb 2017 Dance Tabs). This was a very interesting decision because the obvious candidates for such an award would be athletic male dancers in such roles as Siegfried or Albrecht. Johnsey appears to have won that award not for technique but for pure artistry in dancing not just a female role (Ashton and Helpmann did that hilariously as the step sisters in Cinderella) but a female artist dancing such role.

Because I live in Yorkshire I cannot attend many London Ballet Circle events so it is unlikely that I shall make this one.  But if you live in, or happen to be passing through, London next Monday you could learn a lot from this one.  A lot of horrible things are said (and even worse things thought) about gender fluid or indeed trans folk in the performing arts and society generally. Johnsey's interview may not shift any prejudices but it should enlighten those of a receptive mind.

The Civil Service Club is at 13-15 Great Scotland Yard, London, SW1A 2HJ. It is next door to the Nigerian embassy near the corner of Great Scotland Yard and Northumberland Avenue. Look out for the green and white flag and colours which often adorn the embassy's shopfront. The nearest tubes are Embankment and Charing Cross. "Can't miss it guv!" as they say (or at least used to say) down there

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