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BWW Dance: Hottest Men in Dance 2019

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BWW Dance: Hottest Men in Dance 2019
Lloyd Knight
Jade Young; photographer

As 2020 approaches, a new appreciation of male virtuosity demands consideration.

Possibilities for dancers have exploded over the last decade as extreme stretching and acrobatics have come into vogue, though not always for the best. While circus tricks and random moments now seem to rule the stage, not all "innovation" has been destructive for men. Where once trying to play it straight was the norm, this generation of performers gives zero fux for anything other than staying true to their artistry and health.

Men being men on their own terms while challenging what it means to be male; it's a beautiful thing. These men are leading the way forward by honouring intelligence and charisma over simple tricked-out wizardry.

Soft, vulnerable, quirky, whacked out, and always thoughtful, the men on this list burn with the intensity of stars while offering richly nuanced performances and a guide for how to live as an artist without losing yourself.

These wonderful humans are listed in no particular order because truly how could anyone rank any of them over the other?

1. Maxfield Haynes; Complexions Contemporary Ballet

More than a beautiful face and a soaring arabesque, Maxfield left SFBallet School to embrace androgyny and his fluid identity as a guest with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. When he's not twirling en pointe around the world--collaborating with James Whiteside or Isaac Mizrahi and John Heginbotham--Maxfield performs as one of Complexions's featured soloists, where he has established a dynamic partnership with Larissa Gerskze that is based less on storybook romance than on climbing to new heights with your other half.

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2. Suntae Lee; STL Art Project

A contemporary dancer and choreographer based in Korea, Suntae has rocking moves and an unpredictable streak that springs out of his improvisations, creating new patterns that are impossible to follow. It's a fun style that eschews the plodding ponderousness that has infected this generation's navel-gazing creations without descending into chaotic randomness. In an era where improv has become stale, Suntae is returning the form to its startling alive base.

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3. Kevin Ricardo Tate; The Lion King (US Tour)

An original cast member of Caroline, or Change, Kevin has made the leap from child actor to full-on concert dancer while coming full circle returning to his roots as a Broadway performer on the US National Tour of The Lion King. While negotiating his stage time, he has also developed a modeling career to maximize on his financial potential, ensuring that his day job is not his sole fallback. If only all dancers were this with it. The era of starving artists is over. Kevin proves that one can have a brilliant dance career and financial solvency at the same time.

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4. Prince Credell; Nederlands Dans Theatre

With an astonishing technique and physique that has taken him from Ailey 2, LINES Ballet, Hubbard Street, and Geneva Ballet to Nederlands Dans Theater, Prince is the epitome of his generation's tireless artist. His inquisitive nature engulfs entire audiences and enlists them on his adventure for new boundaries to crack. A leg is never simply whacked with Prince; it is extended forward like a dowsing wand, moving between dimensions of consideration. The last time I saw him dance, my concert partner swore that she couldn't take a breath the entire time he was onstage. I felt the same way, and yet watching him fly across the stage also left me feeling as if I were inhaling my first breath.

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5. Timofej Andrijashenko; La Scala Ballet

An etoile with La Scala ballet, this danseur noble has an edge to him that goes beyond lush technique. Timofej reads as just another blonde on first encounter, but once he starts moving a joyful vulnerability pulses forward from his center that melts even the iciest of hearts. It's no wonder that he holds his own in this sensuous pas de deux next to Roberto Bolle.

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6. Young Gyu Choi; Dutch National Ballet

Wholesome and effortless, Young makes me think of Superman. Everything he does is casually sunny. But he's far from a stoic robot. Though it appears effortless for him, one can tell that he is constantly modulating his performance and technique to balance out the insanity of what he is accomplishing. Young is not a flashy dancer; he's a constant dancer who restrains his spectacular effects in the name of staying present for the audience and his partner. One wishes that he would join City Ballet, where his virtuosity is sorely in need, and where his devotion to ardent partnering would find its true match.

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7. Joseph Sissens; The Royal Ballet

2016 introduced a sizzling stunner to the world with perfect feet, line, extension, and ballon. Though his progress has not been meteoric, it is clear that he is England's future leading danseur. But he's more than a cipher like Solor or Seigfried. Joseph's range extends beyond simple classical ballet. In Charlotte Edmond's Jojo, he proves himself an exponent of the Tharpian ideal: rigourously brilliant and beyond the box that trained him.

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8. Josué Ullate; Ullate Ballet

Son of the acclaimed ballet teacher and choreographer, Victor Ullate--who seems to have trained every famous Spanish ballet dancer on the planet--Josué deflates heteronormative expectations as an artist who is equally adept at partnering women and men. His style is shockingly virile, reminding one of Irek Mukhamedov, but he tamps the heroic vibe down to establish intimate relationships with whomever he is engaging. Josué doesn't devour the scenery, he serenades it, revealing new colours beneath the facile cover.

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9. My'Kal Stromile; Boston Ballet

A recent graduate of Juilliard, My'Kal is a physically phenomenal creature whom I suspect is hanging out at Boston Ballet in order to absorb their diverse repertoire before setting out to establish his own artistic voice. Much like Nacho Duato, who was also a brilliant performer, My'Kal exudes technical brilliance that wants to say more than what is currently available to him. More than Duato, My'Kal strikes one as a weirdo with an exciting view on not just what to say but how to say it. Keep your eyes peeled...

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10. Sun Hohyun; Korean National Ballet

Sun Hohyun suffered a catastrophic foot injury that forced him to take a year off from dance while gaining weight and losing all sense of his original form. Since receiving clearance to dance again, he has returned better than ever, whipping off some of the fastest tours I've ever seen. Some people live for dance; Sun Hohyun only lives when he dances.

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11. Michael Montgomery; Alonzo King LINES Ballet

Bursting with quirky exuberance and irrepressible energy, Michael Montgomery is as kooky as they come. He is a total artist who remembers that taking oneself seriously is deadly and that devoting oneself to being his full self at all time is healing. It's possible that he suffers self doubt, but you'd never know it from the glee that he oozes. He dances like someone is watching him but as if he were giving them a gift. Michael is the thoughtfully selfless dancer of our era.

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12. Naazir Muhammad & Shaakir Muhammad; Houston Ballet and Norwegian Ballet

How can one choose between twins who followed the same beautiful path?

Naazir and Shaakir are Brooklyn's ambassadors to Texas and Norway. They used to sneak behind their parents' backs to take ballet classes at Brooklyn Ballet, though ultimately they won family blessings, scholarships to ABT's JKO School, and stellar starts to amazing careers. This is what hometown representing looks like at its finest! When Lara Spencer released her ridiculous comments, the two responded with testimony of the joy that ballet has brought their lives. Who'd have thought that these two young men would become ballet dancers? Answer: The thousands of kids who follow their example and take it for granted that what they fought to achieve is precisely what it is supposed to be: a birthright.

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13. Sean Rollofson; Ballet Met

An outdoors-man, swimsuit model, and ballet dancer. More than having it all, Sean is a reminder that one can have a life outside of dance and still love the art form. Some dancers lose themselves in dance and wake up years later having nothing in return. Dance is not a religion; you may love it, but it cannot return your ardor. Dance, but learn to live a life that shows you how large the world is rather than how small.

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14. Marcus Williams; Phantom of the Opera (International Tour)

He's gone from Ailey 2 to Philadanco and onto the international tour of Phantom of the Opera all in under a few months. It's just the start of Marcus' career and already he has accomplished more than some dancers ever will. All of this, even though he does not present as the "typical dancer" on his career trajectory. How can one sport an afro and cornrows, model with a seductive persona, teach hip-hop, and still perform have this career? By taking all the shots afforded you and declaring, I deserve to be in this room even if you think that I do not look like I belong. We change the understanding of who belongs by showing up.

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15. J. Bouey; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company

A non-binary, activist, thoughtful choreographer, and fluid mover, J. Bouey has something to offer everybody, though mostly a gentle charisma that draws you in before knocking you out flat with chill vibes. But don't mistake Theirs kindness for weakness. As one prominent critic recently discovered, this anti-business as usual, anti-BS, anti-aggression dazzler will read you for filth and put all of the receipts on blast. Not in the name of shame, but as a notice that the times have changed and that those who declare themselves in charge will be held accountable. In fact, I was just held accountable and that is just one reason why I selected love Them.

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16. Conor McKenzie; Instagram Dancefluencer

Conor McKenzie puts it all on the line for the sake of ringing laughs, tears, and connection out of his audience. Whether lampooning other Instragram Influencers or tarting it up for the lulz, Conor fearlessly jumps into crazy antics that will leave you rolling on the floor or agog at his flawless execution. What makes him doubly refreshing is that he's the first to admit how hard he struggles with executing his videos perfectly and with managing his feelings. On anyone else it would feel like false intimacy, but Conor wears his heart so clearly on his sleeve that one can't help but feel connected to the sincerity of his latest twerk. Conor is this generation's Gyspy Rose Lee but with a pop sensibility to match our balls to the walls culture.

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17. Solomon Dumas; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

When Solomon Dumas dances Wade in the Water, he hangs back on the beat so luxuriantly that one worries he is going to be late. He arrives perfectly on time while riding every scintilla of his music like a master jazz musician playing with our perception of what is possible. A dynamic dancer, Solomon recently revealed to me that he is not as naturally flexible as I am and that he has to negotiate the demands of the Ailey repertoire with a different sensibility than the million of loose jointed dancers out there who confuse facility for talent. That explains the pleasure one takes from watching him dance; he works with choreography rather than attempting to simply barrel through it.

BWW Dance: Hottest Men in Dance 2019
AAADt's Jacqueline Green and Solomon Dumas.
Andrew Eccles; photographer

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18. Brooklyn Mack; Principal Guest Artist

Since leaving Washington Ballet where he spent years as a star, Brooklyn has become a principal guest artist with numerous companies including American Ballet Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet, State Ballet of Georgia, Ukranian National Ballet, and English National Ballet. It's not frequently remarked upon but Brooklyn is as Black as they come and yet his phenomenal talent has given him entry into companies that rarely employ people who look like us. Arthur Mitchell's dream is not yet a reality, but Brooklyn continues representing his vision like a boss, proving that when given the opportunity, Black people can become stars just like anyone else.

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19. Lloyd Knight; Martha Graham Dance Company

After being sidelined by a ruptured Achilles tendon, Lloyd Knight was not sure that he would be able to return as principal dancer with The Martha Graham Dance Company. Since recovering, he has joined Ballet Vlaanderen as principal guest artist, led numerous projects with a diverse set of acclaimed artists, and come to terms with body issues that no one else would ever suspect such a beauty to deal with. One thing that makes a dancer of his level so amazing is that he documented his struggles and recovery publicly. Even though he knew that there was a chance that he might fail, or that he might come back at reduced capacity, Lloyd put it all out there, valiantly, for the world to see. There is courage and then there is purpose. Lloyd Knight is a dancer who embraces that his purpose is to inspire others even when it literally hurts.

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20. Silas Farley; New York City Ballet

They don't seem to understand it yet, but Silas Farley is one of the most exciting dancers to appear with City Ballet in years. Though the repertoire has not yet come, he sparkles in every ballet that features him, whether he is in the back line or leading a divertissement out in front. At 6'4, how could anyone miss him or his enormous jump and magnetic presence? It is a question that boggles my mind whenever I see him in the back. With the dawn of 2020 upon us, one hopes that the new leadership at City Ballet will see how special Silas is and provide him with the repertoire that will allow the world to revel in his splendor. As a former City Ballet dancer recently told me, "A dancer is his rep. I had the talent; I did not have the rep." Silas partners as well as any dancer in the company and demolishes allegro with the ease of a dancer half his size. Here's to greater focus on this patient wonder of a man.

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So what are your thoughts about the hottest men of 2019? Did I miss anyone? I invite you to holler at me on Twitter or Instagram.




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