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September 14th, 2015watch now
As dance companies go the Ballet Boyz are a bit different, different in that they appear to be more focused on the physical appearance of their dancers (The Boyz) than they are on the work the company creates and tours.
Don't believe us? Just take a quick look at last years documentary, made by the AD's William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, which features the company's new employees getting haircuts and new clothes so they look right for a photo shoot.
Seriously! Who does that?
The company also spends an inordinate amount of time focusing on the fact that their dancers are both young and male.
Mr Trevitt and Mr Nunn are also completely tone deaf, not musically, but morally and socially. Again, as evidenced by the same documentary, they can be seen and heard wandering the street of Addis Abbaba in Ethiopa, one of the worlds poorest countries, complaining about how expensive things are.
It is this tone deafness that brings us to the current fracas. On or about November 21st the Ballet Boyz official Twitter account posted an image of the company's dancers. Taken in what appears to be a dressing room, all but two of the dancers are completely naked.
The two dancers standing at the front are wearing robes that have been left open. One dancer is covering his groin with his hand while the other appears to have something hanging over his penis to cover it up.
A caption attached to the message read "Wouldn't you just like to be a fly on the wall ...?" Well, no since you ask but let's move on.
Upon seeing this image we, here in TheLab™, thought back through the last 20 or so years to try and remember the last time we saw a company exposing their dancers in such a way. We couldn't think of a single occasion. Probably because no other dance company would be this stupid.
Of course dance companies do, on occasion, use semi-nude or completely nude images to promote work. However misguided that may be dance companies tend to frown upon their dancers taking cameras into the changing rooms before throwing the resulting pictures up on the internet.
Just from a potential sexual harassment/hostile workplace lawsuit point of view you would have to be completely out of your mind to even associate such an image with your company.
Approximately 36 hours after the message was posted the Tweet was deleted. The image, hosted on an Instagram account, was also deleted.
Tip of the Iceberg
While people are fighting tooth and nail to get the Department for Education to take cultural education seriously we have an NPO dance company acting like a bunch of frat boys by literally holding their dicks in their hands and posting snapshots on the internet.
Just boys horsing around in the changing room you say? We feel sure that schools, youth group leaders, parents and politicians will feel the same way because they always react calmly and proportionally when kids are exposed to this sort of thing. Right?
After a performance or a day of workshops who doesn't want their 10 year old flicking through a company's social networking pages only to be confronted with badly censored images of guys letting their junk hang out of their robes?
Just exactly what is the message they are trying to send?
When asked why the image was posted in the first place or why it was taken at all the company directors declined to answer. A strange position for them since in their own media then can't help but put themselves on camera to extoll their own virtues or those of their company.
They also declined to answer questions regarding the example they were setting to their younger followers. Currently there is a growing problem of children posting inappropriate images of themselves to social media websites and subjecting themselves to bullying, harassment and possible exploitation in the process.
Given that the company, through their marketing and general demeanour, actively court a younger demographic to attend their shows and follow them via social networks it only makes posting the image to begin with all the more ridiculous.
Neither Mr Nunn nor Mr Trevitt would say who took the photo or who tweeted the message on the company's Twitter account.
All they would say is that the image was posted, they decided they didn't like it and it was removed.
Whatever the origins of the image and its appearance on the company's Twitter feed those ultimately responsible for this are the company directors.
When you look at the company's films and publicity materials the perception is that the company's dancers are little more than commodities. A collection of young male faces that the AD's can put on posters and websites to sell tickets to shows.
The documentary mentioned at the top of this piece barely mentions the names of the company dancers at all, a point we made in our piece about that film.
When images like the one described appear in the company's official publicity channels they're not doing a whole lot to dispel that perception.
One final point if we may. Imagine the photo featured a female dance company doing exactly the same thing. Do you think the push back would be "just girls horsing around"? Or would the words used be slightly more insulting and altogether more degrading?