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Ballez Creator Katy Pyle is a genderqueer lesbian dancer and choreographer who began Ballez in 2011 to explore their complicated relationship to the cishetero patriarchal form of ballet, and to make space for their own, and their communities’, presence within it.
Having studied ballet since age 3, Pyle became a professional apprentice at 13; left home at 14 to study full-time in the conservatory at North Carolina School of the Arts, and, at 16, was told by teachers “you would have had a great career if you had been born a boy…” Pyle was pushed out of the ballet program. Because of that rupture, Pyle began studying choreography for the first time. After graduating from NCSA’s high school program in ’99, Pyle attended Hollins University, became a Drag King and studied myriad experimental and post-modern dance forms. Pyle graduated summa cum laude in 2002 from Hollins University with a BA in Multimedia Performance Art.
Pyle then moved to New York City and danced in the works of Ivy Baldwin, Faye Driscoll, John Jasperse, Xavier Le Roy, Karinne Keithley, Jennifer Monson, Anna Sperber, Katie Workum, and Young Jean Lee, among many others. Simultaneously, Pyle created thier own work alongside collaborators Eleanor Hullihan, Rebecca Brooks and Jules Skloot. Evening length works: “Salute to Ex-Best Friends,”asubtout (Pyle & Eleanor Hullihan), Galapagos, 2005; “The Lady Centaur Show,” asubtout, PS 122, 2007; “THE WAY: You Make Me Feel,” Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, 2010; and “COVERS,” The Bushwick Starr, 2012.
In 2011, Pyle founded the Ballez to insert the herstory and lineage of lesbian, queer and transgender people into the ballet canon through the creation of large-scale story ballets, open classes, and public engagement. Major works include “The Firebird, a Ballez,” at Danspace Project in Spring (with a reprise that Fall) 2013, “Variations on Virtuosity, a Gala with the Stars of the Ballez” at American Realness at Abrons Arts Center in January 2015, and “Sleeping Beauty & the Beast,” at La Mama in Spring 2016. Pyle also choreographed “Slavic Goddesses,” at the Kitchen, January 26-28, 2017, which featured 6 solos for Ballez dancers, as a collaborative project with artist Paulina Olowska.
Ballez Class began at Brooklyn Arts Exchange in 2011, and Pyle has since brought the class to Gibney Dance, Slippery Rock University, Stolt Scenkonst and MDT (Stockholm), SCDT (Northampton), LGBTQ Center at BSP (Kingston), Princeton, Yale, Movement Research, Allied Media Conference (Detroit), CounterPULSE (San Francisco), University Musical Society (Ann Arbor), Irreverent Dance (London), Beyond Tolerance Youth Conference (NYC), New York University, and Sarah Lawrence College.
Pyle currently teaches Ballet Practices at Eugene Lang College at the New School, online on Zoom, outdoors in Brower Park, and performs in the work of Swedish choreographer Stina Nyberg. Pyle has set Ballez work on students through Guest Artist Residencies at Bowdoin College, Whitman College, Eugene Lang and Beloit College.
Pyle has garnered support for the company from the Hodder Fund, United Artists, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Jerome Foundation, Mertz Gilmore, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and over 1000 individual donors. Pyle was a 2013-2015 Artist in Residence at BAX, and has received residencies through Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Mount Tremper Arts, Rockbridge Artist’s Exchange, the Bushwick Starr, the Dragon’s Egg, Abrons Arts Center, and La Mama, ETC.