#94 Matthew Standerski, Dancer


Instagram: @prince_matty_

Matthew Standerski,

Shape, Comfort, and Guidance

As of lately I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my life in dance. The events, people, experiences, and motives. These shoes were the beginning of my mindset directed toward the professional dance world. I bought these shoes for a performance I was doing in New York City, after a two week dance program when I was in early high school. When I gained possession of these shoes, I gained possession of a dream. The dream had always been there but dancing in the big city ignited the flames of passion into a full blaze. The shoes guided me to New York, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Maryland, and now to Michigan. Nearly five years later, the shoes remain perfectly intact along with my passion for dance. They sculpt to my feet allowing shape, comfort, and guidance through dance, and through life; at this point one synonymous with the other. The direction of my dance career has evolved around the idea of the queer experience through movement, specifically tracking events of my queer experience. These shoes being worn on the feet of that same little gay kid who first walked into the dance studio so many years ago.  

Why did I begin dancing? For face value, both of my sisters were dancers and I had a strong urge to take dance classes. In retrospect, my motives were not aware to me. I was about ten years old when I began dance classes. This wasn’t the only beginning for me at that age. I was about ten years old when I began to notice I was different. I was starting my life long journey on the parallel paths of dance, and accepting my sexuality.  

At that early age minds are very innocent, and beliefs are very askew. As soon as I joined dance, I received a label, The Gay Kid™.  Through my early years of adolescence, everyone I met, once informed I took dance classes, automatically assumed I was gay. Through those years I lived in an inevitable consciousness of denial, no I’m not gay, I’m straight. The thoughts on repeat in my mind and outloud to those who would listen. At the same time I would find myself getting lost in the mens underwear department staring longingly at the models on the packaging. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would listen to those impulses and accept my sexuality. I accepted my sexuality about four years after I came out to myself in my ten year old mind.  

I agreed with them, I too believed if you were a male in dance, you were gay. But I was the ‘exception’ to that unofficial law. I would exclaim “I’m straight!” to all of those who questioned me, though following in the breath of those words there was a whisper of my internal truth. I joined dance because that is what little gay boys did to be gay. It was my how I introduced myself to the gay lifestyle. It was the safety blanket that allowed me to live what I believed my truth to be, and I was able to fall in love with the artform. I grew up in the dance studios, every night after school in class and rehearsals. It was the safespace for a young gay male that didn’t need a rainbow flag on the door. The rainbow flag was the barre, the mirror, and the shoes on my feet. Shoes that allowed shape, comfort, and guidance.