La MaMa Blogs: Meet The Ballez!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Meet The Ballez!

Meet six of the stars of Sleeping Beauty & the Beast that will premiere on opening night of La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival! Ballez Company invites everyone to witness and celebrate the history and performances of lesbian, queer, and transgender people. Ballez re-imagines archetypal characters to reflect multiplicity of identity, desire, and expression. Ballez celebrates the virtuosity of complexly gendered embodiment, energetic eloquence, queer coding, and the magical adaptability of expression that Ballez dancers have cultivated through their lives as a way to survive and thrive.

The Ballez returns to radically, queerly re-imagine another tale from the ballet canon. Celebrating the lives of lesbian, queer, and transgender people in the L.E.S., Sleeping Beauty & the Beast is a two-act Ballez spanning two theaters at La Mama, and two eras of L.E.S. activist herstory separated by 100 years. Featuring selections of Tchaikovsky's classic score played live by the Queer Urban Orchestra, original House Music compilations by JD Samson, and a diverse cast of over 20 queer performers, the Ballez infiltrates the ballet canon with expressions of queer desires, queer and gender-queer embodiment, framing all these expressions as a new kind of virtuosity. Humorous, sensual, and heartbreaking, Sleeping Beauty & the Beast is a powerful testament to struggle, survival, and legacy.

Tickets are available online HERE

Support the Ballez KICKSTARTER campaign online!


Artistic Director, Katy Pyle, is a multimedia performance artist whose works explore fantasy, transformation, queer failure, and the lineage of performance. Pyle began studying ballet as a child, and always jumped with the boys at the end of class. She became a company apprentice with Austin Contemporary Ballet at 14 and furthered her studies at North Carolina School of the Arts. At 16, she diverged from ballet because of its limited possibilities for gender representation, and woefully narrow ideas about bodies. She went on to study modern dance and choreography at NCSA, and then post-modern dance and Multimedia Performance Art at Hollins. Since moving to New York in 2002, her work has been presented at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Brooklyn Museum, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, Galapagos, PS122, La Mama, Dance Theater Workshop, Movement Research at the Judson Church (and MR Festivals), and the Bushwick Starr. Pyle founded the Ballez in 2011, and has been ardently pursuing its mission ever since. She teaches the celebrated “Adult Ballez” class weekly through Brooklyn Arts Exchange (most often with Jules Skloot), and has brought the class to Movement Research, the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, CounterPULSE in San Francisco, University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Irreverent Dance in London, Parsons, the Beyond Tolerance Youth Conference, Yale University, and Sarah Lawrence(this Spring).

As a performer/creator, she has worked with Ivy Baldwin, Faye Driscoll, John Jasperse, Karinne Keithley Syers, Xavier Le Roy, Jennifer Monson, Anna Sperber, Katie Workum, and is currently touring the Untitled Feminist Show, which she co-created with Young Jean Lee Theater Company.

Evening length works include “Salute to Ex-Best Friends,”asubtout (Pyle & Eleanor Hullihan), Galapagos, 2005; “The Lady Centaur Show,” asubtout, PS 122, 2007; “THE WAY: You Make Me Feel,” Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, 2010; “COVERS,” The Bushwick Starr, 2012; “The Firebird, a Ballez,” Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, 2013; “Variations on Virtuosity, a Gala with the Stars of the Ballez,” American Realness at Abrons Arts Center, 2015.

She has received creative support from Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), Dragon’s Egg, the Jerome Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Mertz Gilmore, Mount Tremper Arts, and Rockbridge Artist’s Exchange.


Jules Skloot, Ballez co-teacher and collaborator, is a dancer, performance maker, and teacher based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Jules received a BA from Hampshire College and an MFA in dance from Sarah Lawrence College. Jules frequently collaborates and performs with Katy Pyle and others as assistant director of the Ballez, and has performed in the work of Sara Rudner, Peggy Gould, Emily Johnson/Catalyst Dance, Will Davis, niv Acosta, and Margot Bassett. Jules has presented his own work at BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange through the Space Grant program, Dixon Place, the University Settlement, Lava Studios, and at AUNTS events. Jules teaches dance and health at the Brooklyn Friends School, and is assistant director of an arts and social justice focused summer camp.


Pronouns: Ashley/Ashley's or they/them/theirs
Q: All of the dance hats that you wear:
A: I perform with Larissa Velez-Jackson and the Yackez crew as their (un)trusty green gender ambiguous mascot: YackMan. Additionally, I'm a self-proclaimed queerographer. With all of my work, I strive to honor blue-collar queerness to counterbalance the surplus of work that caters to the cultural and academic elite.
Q: What brought you to Ballez?
A: A fiery desire to queerly move in political, technical, and sexy ways.
Q: A surprising fact about you:
A: I may or may not be wearing nothing but a black leotard and trying to pass as a straight woman (whatever that means) in a Local Natives' music video for "Bowery." You can witness me in all of my closeted glory here:


Q: What is your relationship history with ballet?
A: My mother is a ballerina. She's an incredible being who helped pave the way for black ballet dancers. She left The Juilliard School to become an original member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Q: A surprising fact about you:
A: I was born and raised in Berlin, Germany until I was 18.


Chris is a Brooklyn based choreographer and dance artist from Pittsburgh, PA. He is a founding member and the choreographer of a queer identified interdisciplinary collective, I AM A BOYS CHOIR. His work has been presented at La Mama, Yale University Art Gallery, REDCAT, BAM, JACK, BRIC Arts (CATCH 68), The Wassaic Project, The Judson Church, and Dixon Place. Selected dance work: Tino Sehgal, Alonzo King, Bruno Isakovic, Amanda Miller, Sidra Bell, Maurya Kerr, Yannis Adoniou, and Brendan Fernandes. BA Emerson College, and a graduate of the LINES Ballet Training Program. 2015-2015 AIR at Chez Bushwick.


Madison is a freelance performer, musician, and activist originally from Oakland, CA. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance and minor in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine, where she was a member of the renowned Donald McKayle’s Etude Ensemble, and performed works by Jodie Gates and Charles Moulton.  Now living in Brooklyn since 2010, she currently performs with Third Rail Projects’ Bessie award-winning show, Then She Fell, Vanessa Walters, Mark Lamb Dance, and tours with Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company’s Untitled Feminist Show. You can also catch her under the moniker, Maddy MayHammhmm, performing with her punk band, Snatch Attack, around NYC—check us out here for more info: She is honored to be a part of the amazing radical community that is the Ballez!

Ballez | “Sleeping Beauty & the Beast”

April 29 - May 08, 2016

Wednesday to Saturday at 7pm; Sunday at 4pm

Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)

Tickets available online:

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