Essence of masculinity
The moment the men’s repertory found brotherhood was the moment they traveled together to the Theatre Project in Baltimore.
After rehearsal, the four members came to the parking lot to find their car had been broken into. The front passenger’s window was shattered.
“I ended up sitting in the front seat because I had a coat, which as it turns out wasn’t waterproof,” Patrick Long, a senior electronic media and film major said. “So I’m getting like rained on and frozen while we’re driving down 83 with a broken window.”
That moment was the first time the four dancers had spent time together outside of the dance studio, and due to the circumstances, it was the first time they became “brothers,” Long said.
The men’s repertory class is a selected group of four male dancers, three of which are not dance performance majors, and who have each taken Movement Skills Enhancement for Men, or “man dance,” and want to take the next step further in their dance career.
The men’s repertory is taught by Associate Dance Professor Vincent Thomas.
Thomas said this semester’s class has formed a close bond that transcends their dancing, allowing them the opportunity to perform with his dance company, VTDance, at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on June 13.
“When you see them perform on the stage, you know that there’s this connection,” Thomas said. “It just exhumes. I think that unfortunate thing [the car break-in] was really needed for [them] to turn that corner.”
Besides Long, the four members of the class include senior EMF major Matt MacIntyre, senior mass communication major Taylor Robinson and senior dance performance major Lester Horton.
The variety of non-dance backgrounds is what makes this semester’s men’s repertory so interesting, Horton said.
Being the only dance performance major, Horton said that dance techniques are often so embedded in his mind he forgets to simply dance, whereas Long, MacIntyre and Robinson remind him of the rawness he so often forgets.
“You start to worry about ‘OK, I gotta keep my feet down, I gotta move my hip, I gotta worry about this, I gotta worry about that when I’m turning.’ These guys will be like ‘Oh, I’m turning? OK’ So then they just turn,” Horton said.
The difference between a good dancer and a bad dancer, Long said, is someone who lets go free of society’s judgments and stereotypes versus someone who is plagued by restrictions.
Dancing, he said, is simply what you feel in a given moment.
Being able to let go without fear of judgment is a key factor to the men’s repertory class, MacIntyre said.
By developing a close bond with his dancemates, he is able to let go and be the best dancer he can be.
In turn, he said, he is developing his own image of masculinity, which is the focus of the piece the group has developed this semester.
“[In] this class, where we only have one dance major, it’s 75 percent of people who are trying dance and trying to see what it does to their lives,” MacIntyre said. “It’s interesting to see what societal image that plays in relation to masculinity and yourself.”
That is what the men’s repertory does, Thomas said, it lets the men continue to develop as dancers and experiment as individuals and classmates.
“It’s funny because we’re pretty much all still the same,” Long said. “We’re goofy, just about to graduate, and not-mature-enough-for-the-real-world. Hopefully they can handle us, we’ll see.”
– Alena Schwarz contributed to this article