Harper’s success on stage has taken place alongside an incredibly vast reach on social media, with hundreds of thousands of followers across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook. This reach has allowed Harper to reach new audiences and provided a platform where he has documented and shared the experience of being a professional ballet dancer as well as the behind the scenes of an elite dance company.
“I try to make the ballet world a lot more colourful, diverse, a lot more inclusive.”
Harper is known for being proudly and unapologetically himself, this is captured so clearly in an incredible fun video that went viral, capturing Harper in heels on a treadmill.
“I share my gayness, I share my sassiness, I share my love for things and I show other people working in my company through my YouTube series in the hope that the next generation says ‘I like that too and I also want to be a dancer.’”
This openness off the stage has also informed his dancing, with Harper explaining:
“My career has been really elevated through self acceptance and owning my own truth.”
This level of openness has come with its critics with a few critiquing Harper’s gender expression and if it is appropriate for male dancers. These critiques are indeed problematic, and Harper responds to anyone who thinks he is a bad representation of male ballet dancers:
“Bad representation means I am not playing to your rules. But you are just not willing to see mine.”
Harper makes the point in the interview that men in dance are required to make choices, completely unrelated to how they move, related to emotion, and self understanding, with the belief that they are only “going to be able to do it if they are accepted and in an environment that is compassionate, understanding and vulnerable.”
In this interview we talk about a range of issues from gender, sexuality, social media, self-acceptance, the changing space of dance and what the future holds. The episode itself sits within a season that explores the different ways people understand and use dance to challenge normative assumptions and ideas. A great sister interview to this one is the one with Chase Johnsey who danced in the female ensemble of the English National Ballet in early 2018.