Defying Gender Norms with Ballet
By Julia Xiao
Ballet dancer Ashton Edwards is a person who is changing gender stereotypes and social norms through dance. He leaps through the air, not in flat ballet shoes but in pointe shoes.
Ballet has traditionally divided gender roles very distinctively. Men use power and strength to lift their partners into the sky, whereas women are expected to be graceful and delicate.
Ashton Edwards is an 18 year old who studies ballet with the Pacific Northwest ballet’s Elite Professional Division in Seattle. He had begun to learn ballet when he was only 4 years of age.
Edwards had always wanted to try out pointe shoes, the ballet technique where you use special ballet shoes to dance on the tip of your toes.
The Pacific Northwest ballet was very open and accepting towards his interest in pointe shoes. They support him in his career towards doing serious en pointe work in a professional setting.
Edwards had extreme talent for en pointe. He achieved in six months what takes most dancers years.
Ballet has also been evolving with its dancers. Choreographers are restaging traditional ballet works and incorporating modern ballet techniques and blurring the lines of gender norms.