Dance is such a beautiful artistic expression that connects body, sound and meaning together. As queer people face many systemically medical and bodily interventions and judgements, Justin tells us what queerness means to her personally within dance: “My queerness brings fluidity to my dance, integrity to my art, and pure emotion to my expression,” he says, “that I dance is an extension of my relationship to music – moving my body alongside melody, rhythm and other voices puts me in conversation with the time and space around me, so that I can become truly present and in tune with my spirit.”
Toxic masculinity seems to have many meanings and interpretations – but what does it actually mean? Justin elaborates that it is “more than just the traits typically associated with heteronormative masculinity, I consider toxic masculinity to be a disingenuous way of responding and/or reacting to your environment and those around you, one which is disproportionate to your needs, as well as the needs of others and the environment … it shows up differently in different situations but that’s one of the main indicators that this imbalance is present.”
It can affect everyone of all genders and identities and usually uses power structures put in place to belittle and dehumanise. “As someone who is sensitised to these emotional wavelengths, it seems that I often end up attracting people who are plagued with symptoms of toxic masculinity but are on the brink of healing from them – and it is clear to me that there must be some traits in myself that are acting as a mirror for them, signifying that there is still much shadow work to be done within my own emotional realm,” Justin says.
“As far as dancing is concerned, I think that fostering an honest dialogue between you and your body – which is truly the foundation of any intensive physical training – is already a preventative measure which can aid in the exorcism of that toxic energy, so that is the first thing that I’ll be working towards as I reboot my professional dance journey.”
As a queer person who uses all he/she/they pronouns, Smith tells us what it means to deconstruct binary narratives and transcend previous expectations of gender. “In my understanding of this de facto dichotomy said to exist between masculinity and femininity, I see the two as impartial energetic dispositions (along with traits aligned to them) which could exist independently but have, in our “civilised” society, been branded and co-opted to represent very certain and oddly specific manmade ideals and desires… as an example, “toxic masculinity”, as such has much less to do with the traits branded as “masculine” and much more to do with the inherently violent and self-harming behavioural patterns that so insidiously attach themselves to these traits in the administration of this neo-capitalist heteropatriarchy. As such, I try to avoid using terms like “masculine” and “feminine” to describe things that already have their own names, meanings, etymologies, energies, etc.”