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HOUSTON, Texas — When Houston Ballet star Harper Watters first received a pair of six-inch pink stilettos from a friend in her company, it was meant to be a fun gift.
“We were in the gym, and so we were like, can you imagine if we were running on the treadmill with this? Would that be funny?” Harper said.
He and a friend tied them up and recorded a 52-second video, performing ballet routines on the treadmill. The hysterical videos quickly went viral on Instagram, racking up over a million views. For Harper, it was a moment of realization.
“I consciously continued to create content that was authentic to me and would reach other people,” he said. “I would use these heeled videos to bring people into my world and then share my world as a black queer dancer.”
He began sharing his life as a dancer on his YouTube series, The Pre-Show, which takes viewers behind the scenes and gives them a glimpse into the world of professional ballet.
“It was that real peek behind the curtain that was really beautiful and I’m really, really grateful for those moments,” he said.
For Harper, dance has always provided an outlet for her to be her authentic self.
“I am currently the highest ranked black dancer in this company,” he said. “I feel like I could say that because I stood up for myself. I had to be proud of who I was as a person. I had to be proud of who I am as a dancer. I had to be proud of who I am as a black person. By doing that, by taking care of my dancing, taking care of my identity, taking care of my gender, my dancing has become better.”
Earlier this year, Watters made history with her starring role in the three-act ballet “Sylvia.”
“I’m so lucky and grateful for that, for the opportunity to direct a ballet as a black person, as a queer person — because it just doesn’t happen,” he said. declared.