Todd Fox returns with the next installment of “One Dancer’s Journey” — if you haven’t had the chance to read the other posts by Mr. Fox, you can find them here.
by Todd Fox
5. What have you had to struggle against in dance?
I didn’t experience an overwhelming amount of ridicule in public school as a boy studying ballet but I did hear my share of jokes and was teased often. At first the teasing didn’t really bother me because I was obsessed with learning ballet and I didn’t really care what people thought—but you can only ignore things for so long.
It all came to a head pretty quick one day in 9th grade when a student was teasing me and called me a name so I punched him square in the face causing a bad nose bleed. I was promptly suspended from school and my parents completely freaked, it was definitely NOT the proper or mature way to handle the situation but I was 15 at the time, it happened, and I was never teased again.
Teasing and name calling aside, I think the number one thing I have had to struggle against as a professional ballet dancer here in the United States is the perception of my life’s work as some sort of contribution to a non-essential charity, as if it has no value in the “real world”.
I constantly meet non arts professionals who give me that blank stare and derogatory follow-up question when I tell them I am a professional ballet dancer. Some of the responses I have heard over the years are unbelievable; “really, why?” or “so… you’re gay?” or “so what’s your real job?” or “how are you going to get rich and raise a family doing that?” It’s funny, when I hear some of these responses I still get that urge to just punch these people square in the face like in 9th grade years ago—but of course that is not an option.
Seriously though, the perception of arts professionals as insignificant and superfluous elements of society is more prevalent here in the United States than anywhere else I have ever traveled in the world. When performing abroad I consistently find people to be much more embracing and respectful of the profession I have dedicated my life to. Certainly not 100% of people all the time everywhere but without a doubt I experience a higher degree of acceptance abroad than here at home.
I think it’s a struggle that just about every arts professional here in the United States has had to cope with to some degree or another throughout their career. Sadly, I don’t see these ignorant derogatory perceptions changing anytime soon as they stem from a complex web of social issues with no one clear solution. Somehow, someway, I hope we can manage to educate future generations so they have a deeper understanding of why a profession in the arts is a valuable and essential contribution to our country’s rich culture and diverse history.
Throughout his professional career Contributor Todd Fox has performed with ballet companies around the world including Ireland’s Cork City Ballet, South Africa’s Ballet Theatre Afrikan, Yugoslavia’s Serbian National Theatre Ballet, Scotland’s Ballet West, Venezuela’s Ballet Metropolitano de Caracas, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, Isle of Man’s Manx Ballet, and the USA’s Cleveland San Jose Ballet, BalletNY, and Joffrey II Dancers.
Described by the New York Times’ Jack Anderson as, “most notable for his effortless jumps”, Mr. Fox’s performance repertoire includes such favorites as Albrecht in Lavrovsky’s Giselle, the Angel in Rudolph Van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs, Pas de Cinq in Rudolph Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty, The Fool in Agnes de Mille’s Three Virgins and a Devil, Stanton Welch’s Orange, George Balanchine’s Apollo, Valse Fantaisie, and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Escamillo in Roland Petit’s Carmen, Gerald Arpino’s Kettentanz, and Antony Tudor’s Continuo.
Theatrical credits include the Off-Broadway production of Life’s Too Short to Cry, National Tours of Dreamgirls, Cinderella starring Phyllis Diller, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Out of Their Shells Tour!, and most recently Todd originated the role of Police Chief Louis Renault in Warner Brothers Theatre Ventures’ original production of John Clifford’s Casablanca The Dance. Television appearances include performances on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, the RTÉ broadcast network reality series Ballet Chancers, The Drew Carey Show, and in the Emmy nominated broadcast of Blue Suede Shoes.
Since 1998 Todd has worked as an agent/manager specializing in the representation of high profile guest artist ballet dancers from around the world. He has successfully negotiated contracts for many clients governing a wide array of live performance engagements and film.