02 February 2024

A chat with Jonathan Watkins, Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Queer

Ballet Queer is the UK’s first LGBTQ+ Ballet Company. We spoke to Founder and Artistic Director, Jonathan Watkins to find out more about his company and upcoming workshop, The Queer History of You Through Movement, taking place with us on 24 February – free for Hackney residents.

Can you introduce yourself and your company?

My name is Jonathan Watkins (he/him) and I am the Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Queer. I have worked in dance for 20 years and launched the first LGBTQ+ focused ballet company in the UK. We create new and authentic work by Queer artists that address the Queer experience. Our aim is also to explore and challenge what ballet is and can be for all people and audiences.

What’s the inspiration behind The Queer History of You Through Movement workshop?

These workshops are based on some of the ideas that Ballet Queer will be exploring in an upcoming work which is currently in development. It presents a way of looking at how we move and can express ourselves through movement to take stock of our presence in the world and our own timeline.What can participants expect?

A fun, safe and shared space with people of the community to discover a way of moving. I say movement because when we mention ‘ballet’ it may come with expectations and perceived ideas of what that is. This isn’t a ballet class or learning the technique of ballet as an art form but through casual chats and discussions, games, responding to music and different questions we make our own way of moving. There will also be an opportunity to learn some choreography from me as well as a look at what ‘ballet’ means to the group. The space will be one where nothing is mandatory and all elements within the workshop are voluntary. There will be planned breaks and also participants can rest, sit or have time out of the space at any time.

What do you think participants will gain from the workshop?

I hope it will be a fun, relaxed, thoughtful and caring process that participants will leave with physical confidence, dance buzz and more curiosity to move and understand through movement. To have met other people and be aware that they were an important part of the first workshops from Ballet Queer.

What can we expect to see from Ballet Queer in the future?

We are building a firm foundation for new works to be created across live performances, film and participation. Our ambition is to collaborate with artists to ask questions about different experiences within the community and present new and exciting ways of seeing and interacting with Ballet.

Thanks Jonathan! The Queer History of You Through Movement is a FREE workshop exclusively open to Hackney based LGBTQ+ participants without formal dance training. You can find out more about the workshop by clicking here.

Middle Image Credit: Cristian Solimeno

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