FeaturesPride 2021

Mover and Shaker

Jack Wolff is helping pave the way for the next generation of LGBTQ dancers.

Jack Wolff (photos by Frank Hernandez @the_creativex for OutSmart Magazine)

By Harper Watters

Houston native Jack Wolff was 6 years old when he took his first tap-dancing class. Three years later, while taking ballet classes, he realized that he wanted to become a professional dancer.

Now 20, Wolff is living his dream as a member of the Corps at Houston Ballet, where he has worked for three years. In his spare time, he has also started teaching other aspiring Houston dancers ballet, tap, and contemporary.

In honor of Pride Month, Wolff—an out and proud dancer—chatted with openly gay Houston Ballet soloist Harper Watters about his background, LGBTQ influences, and the future of dance.

Harper Watters: What is your relationship to the LGBTQ community?
Jack Wolff: I am a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, and identify as a cis-gay male. I’ve been out since I was 15 years old, and luckily have a supportive family-and-friends group.

What does Pride mean to you?
For me, Pride is about celebrating who we are, and our queer culture. But it’s also about recognizing how far we have come from our previous oppression, and thanking those who fought so hard for us in the past. Due to their hard work, we can safely have Pride, [be seen by society], and comfortably talk about who we are and who we love. This year, I plan on going big for Pride. I was actually born in June of 2000, so this year I’ll be combining my Pride celebration and my 21st birthday celebration. I’ll be spending it with friends, family, and coworkers, all of whom have been vaccinated. I’m lucky to be living in a time where I can be who I am, and feel safe.

What is the best part about working for the Houston Ballet?
As a member of the Corps at Houston Ballet, I love being in such a large company that [has] so many dancers to look up to. All of us have worked so hard to get to where we are, and we continue to work to keep our careers going. I’m lucky [that I could] start my career in such an accepting and inspiring company.

Have you ever been surprised by what you have discovered about yourself through dance?
There have been many moments of my life in which dance has taught me about myself. I’ve learned that when I’m going through a rough moment, I need to explore and process my feelings rather than compress them. And the best place for me to do that is in the dance studio. There’s an emotional release that comes with the physical release of dancing, and being in the dance studio so often not only helps me improve upon my art form, but also improves my day-to-day happiness.

What does LGBTQ representation in dance mean to you?
I find that representation in dance is extremely important. Luckily, I have great co-workers and choreographers that I look up to, who are proud members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, I find there’s a lack of representation when it comes to performances, and what’s presented onstage.

What do you think dance will look like in 10 years?
I feel that within the next 10 years, we will be growing to tell [more] gay, lesbian, trans, and queer stories through the art of dance. And I hope I get to be a part of that representation on stage, to show that not everyone’s dream fantasy is the straight Cinderella-type story. I hope to see a male protagonist find his Prince Charming, and portray that story through dance.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I’ve actually started teaching ballet, tap, and contemporary dance classes in the Houston area. I enjoy sharing my love for dance and educating aspiring dancers in their art form. Apart from the dance studio, I love photography, embroidery, and trying new things with friends.

Favorite gay guilty pleasure on TV and on Instagram?
Honestly, I don’t have any “guilty” pleasures on TV or social media, because I don’t think we should feel guilty about what we like to watch. Yes, I watch Drag Race and follow gay meme accounts, but I’m proud of it. I believe we need to eliminate any kind of shame that we have about liking something because it would be seen as a “gay guilty pleasure.” We’ve come so far in being proud of who we are; let’s keep that momentum going.

Who are some LGBTQ+ icons that inspire you?
RuPaul, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and, most recently, Lil Nas X. Lil Nas X is really bringing awareness to our culture, attitude, and what we like—all through his music and videos.

Any final thoughts?
Overall, I’m very proud to be who I am, and hope to inspire queer dancers and individuals in the future. We’ve come so far, and I know we’ll go even farther.

Keep up with Jack Wolff on Instagram @jackwwolff.

Harper Watters is a soloist at the Houston Ballet, a proud Bey-Hive member, and an even prouder new Houston homeowner. He’s dedicated to advocacy, representation, and creating space for the next generation and doing it in the most fabulous way possible. 


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