“I believe that society is way too wrapped up in how people look. The first thing people notice is whether someone is “beautiful” or not, but our face has nothing to do with our beauty.” Queer dancer, Dale Ratcliff on why he chooses to avert his face in images. He also shares advice for creatives struggling to define their passion and purpose, we talk redefining “Health and Fitness” and how he explores his identity through dance.
DANCE and SELFHOOD
“You cut me, but instead of blood, you saw my petals.” What’s the significance of this line and how much of poetry influences your dance?
“You cut me, but instead of blood, you saw my petals” is something that I wrote almost a year ago. It was about a very toxic situation. Around that time I found the beauty of flowers. Flowers hold a lot of weight in my life, I believe that we are all flowers. I believe that poetry and dance go hand and hand. All art is connected in some way, I find inspiration from both of my passions.
What advice would you have for someone creative who feels as though they still can’t define their passion or purpose and is unsure of what step to take next?
If you’re feeling conflicted in your art it means that you are feeling one thing and trying to create another. It’s best to align your thoughts and actions/creations. Also, taking a break is necessary. Live life, meditate, pray. Eventually the passion and inspiration will come, it always does.
FKA Twigs, serpentwithfeet or Solange. If you could only choose one, who would you dance with?
SERPENTWITHFEET! He is definitely my spirit animal.
What does redefine “Health and Fitness” mean to you?
Health and fitness are definitely very important to me. I’ve been vegan for 3 years now, I try to go to the gym every other day, plus dance. But just finding a routine is most important, and drinking good water.
How has dance in the context of a consumer and dancer created a space for you to be able to explore your identity?
Dance has definitely become more mainstream these days. The resources have helped me to indulge deeper into my craft. Especially living in New York, if I wanted to, I could rent space, take a class, or dance on the street whenever I feel. When I was younger growing up in a small-ish town I only had the option to dance 2 days a week.
“Live life, meditate, pray. Eventually the passion and inspiration will come, it always does.”
Your choreography is regarded as unorthodox and innovative. How do you think change in the dance industry can promote change on a larger scale?
“Unorthodox” I love that! I once had a conversation with my grandmother about art. She told me that something I had created was disturbing and wasn’t considered “art.” I then asked her, if art is only beautiful and calming, how does art progress? If people do not push boundaries and test the limits of how far art can go, would it still be art? Art is not only beautiful, art can be scary, but most importantly art must make you feel something. And if she felt disturbed at that moment upon seeing what I had created, then I did my job.
If you invented a new dance genre, what would you name it?
Oh. I would probably have to say “Awareness?”
Can you tell us why you almost never capture your face in images whilst dancing?
I believe that society is way too wrapped up in how people look. The first thing people notice is whether someone is “beautiful” or not, but our face has nothing to do with our beauty. I guess in a way it’s a rebellion. In a way forcing people to see me without seeing me.
As a dancer how correlated is pain and vulnerability for growth and how does this mindset apply to you outside of dance?
Pain is definitely a driving force for most, if not all artists. We create from pain in order to heal from it. Being vulnerable affects my life in many ways. In the way I approach movement, also in everyday life. The ability to apologize when you know you are wrong, or the ability to say while dancing that it wasn’t your best moment, but unapologetically owning it. Every time you perform on stage it’s a vulnerable moment, you know that there is the possibility to fall, but you go out and you do your best anyway.
Behind closed doors, is there an element or red tape in the dance industry that the audience doesn’t see that needs to be addressed?
Behind the scenes I would probably have to say the cattiness, but isn’t that in every field? Dancers are shady, but so is everyone else in society.
“If people do not push boundaries and test the limits of how far art can go, would it still be art?”
Are there any dancers that we should have on our radar for 2019?
I find it hard to answer a question like that because dance is so vast. There are so many styles, and I believe that we are all beautiful. The ability to put yourself out there in the public eye and say that this is what I have to offer is the most beautiful thing there is, I believe.
Do you have a future project that you’re currently working on?
I have a few video ideas that I’m working on. Some music videos. A commercial. Also, I have a few performances coming up in and out of the county.
Goals for 2019?
In 2019 my main goal is to start traveling more because of dance. I have the burning desire to see the world and create art at the same time.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?