The Perfect Form

   They’re graceful in the way they move because they have to be. They follow the eight count beat like it is the beat of their own hearts. They move together; they move as one.

   Dancers must leave themselves at the door and become synchronous with everyone else in the room. This requires acceptance of everyone in it, no matter what gender, sexuality, race or body shape they have. When they make their way to the center of the room, they are there for each other and for their art.

   Dance major Sage Stewart, 12 says, “When you start dancing, any previous judgments drop from your mind and you welcome everything- even the most eccentric expressions of others.”

   Sage came out as non-binary in an art form they describe as one, “That continually breaks down gender dynamics; contemporary dance has been an incredibly accepting community to come out into.”

   They’ve been lucky to come out to dance groups that were anything but negative. When someone misgenders or calls them by their birth name, Sage’s peers are quick to correct them. While some have been confused on what being non-binary means, they keep an open mind. It’s allowed them to understand what being non-binary is and more about what Sage is. Sage has found that dance is a place of acceptance, and the studio will accept you as you are.

   Non-binary, according to Sage, is “A gender identity that is outside of the binary (neither man or woman).”   

   It alters the way they see themselves as a nonbinary person because dancers are in tune and aware of their bodies as well as the bodies around them. Dancers are cast because of how their bodies look. It can feel personal, according to Sage, but it’s not. You just have to take a step back a know that it isn’t you. Directors have a specific vision for their shows. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a good dancer.

   Dance major Savannah Urcioli, 12 says, “There has always been talk about not having a “ballerina body” which is basically just being crazy skinny, and I most definitely don’t fit that, but at LVA especially, dance students don’t necessarily put a huge emphasis on having a “ballet body.”

   Savannah finds her number one love for dance in ballet. “I really love ballet. It’s not a widely loved style because of its intensity, but the technique used for that leaks into all other dance styles.”

   For almost every show she has been in, she has had to tape her chest to make sure that it wasn’t visible in a costume. Ballet dancers tend to be petite and skinny, but that doesn’t stop Savannah from perfecting her craft. In the studios at LVA, students are in an environment where your skills are more important than how thin you are.

   “If you were to go to a professional ballet company, a lot of emphases is placed over how you look,” says Savannah.

   Not fitting the stereotypical ballerina body has never been an issue in the classroom for her as LVA is more concerned with having students perfect their craft rather than have them be worried about their physical attributes.

   “There are those times where I feel as though I’ve gained weight, but those thoughts usually don’t last long because there are other focuses I have to zone in on,” says Savannah. Having a place to dance that is accepting is important for those trying to own their craft.

   Places such as conventions, where the goal is to be better than the dancer standing next to you, can be a harsher place to dance than in the classroom.

   Dance can cast a harsh light over performers, and the pressure is always on. But, with a group of your peers that are willing to understand your body and your movements the same way you understand theirs, it can be an uplifting place to be.