Harper Watters in “Danseur” | Courtesy of NuArts Productions

In February, the Louisville Ballet presented “Human Abstract,” a program that explored the complexities of human relationships through two male lead dancers.

Sadly, the organization received a slew of homophobic letters and messages before the show and even some protesters outside the Kentucky Center during the evening performances.

The Louisville Ballet responded with an open letter against hatred and prejudice and garnered national attention on the issue. The letter included:

“Our hope is that whoever you are and whoever you love, you’ll feel celebrated at Louisville Ballet. … We cannot and will not be bystanders to hatred and prejudice. As artists, we have a duty to challenge preconceptions respectfully and to tell the stories of those individuals and groups who make our city what it is and what it should aspire to become. We must life up those around us in positive ways and provide support when needed.”

In an effort to keep the message of inclusivity going, the ballet is co-hosting a free screening of the documentary “Danseur” on Sunday, April 14, at Speed Cinema. The film explores the struggles boys often face when trying to pursue ballet, often enduring bullying, name-calling and more, which sometimes leads to them quitting altogether.

The event is a collaboration between the Louisville Ballet, the Speed Art Museum and the Louisville Film Society.

According to the leadership of the Louisville Ballet, the company was approached by “Danseur” director Scott Gormley during the promotion of “Human Abstract,” and the message of the film lined up perfectly with their mission to promote inclusivity and acceptance.

“Ballet is an incredible sport, and dancers are some of the strongest athletes around, but there’s a misconception that it’s a very effeminate sport,” the leadership team told Insider. “This is an issue that, for decades, has stopped talented male dancers from pursuing ballet and instead choosing something that is seen as ‘masculine’ when their true passion lies in ballet.

“Danseur” will be shown Sunday, April 14, at Speed Cinema.

“We reject those stereotypes and want to create an inclusive environment where dancers can explore the beauty and physicality of movement without the fear of being judged.”

In the film, male dancers of various ages are interviewed about their experiences with ballet and the hardships they’ve endured outside the studio.

It also points out an alarming statistic that nearly 96 percent of male ballet dancers have faced physical or verbal attacks because of the sport they have chosen to pursue.

Films like “Danseur” and programming like “Human Abstract” are important to the Louisville Ballet, as they embrace the culture represented in Louisville.

“Inclusivity is one of our pillars, and we always aim to represent the diverse population of our community,” said leadership. “Representation in all forms matters, and we pride ourselves on being a company that showcases the stories of those that make up the city we love.”

“Danseur” will be screened for free on Sunday, April 14, at 12:30 p.m. at Speed Cinema.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."