July 2017 | FYI | Ballet Dancer Creates No-Judgment Company

Ballet Dancer Creates No-Judgment Company

Professional dancer Briana Selstad Bosch was fed up with her friends and colleagues being made to feel that they didn’t measure up to ballet’s established physical aesthetic, so she recently founded a company where everyone fits.

Denver’s new 11-member, ethnically diverse company Ballet5280 welcomes dancers of all shapes and sizes.
Photo by Robin Cain Photography

Ballet5280—named for the elevation of her company’s Denver, Colorado hometown—presented its first concert performance there May 26 and 27.

Bosch, who danced in local ballet companies, said directors often add to the pressure dancers put on themselves through words and actions that directly or indirectly link a dancer’s physique or weight to future casting assignments. “At least half of the dancers in my company were told they were ‘too big,’ ” said Bosch of her 11-member, ethnically diverse company. “While there is something beautiful about long lines and the lightness of a thin dancer, there is something equally beautiful about the muscular dancer. I think to see that, too, is refreshing for audiences.”

By creating choreography that gives solo spots to many different dancers—and by encouraging camaraderie rather than competitiveness—Bosch also hopes to create a healthy peer-to-peer environment where dancers don’t feel the need to “take up space and elbow each other out.” Visit ballet5280.com.