Interview: Angel

Today we’re joined by Angel. Angel is a wonderful writer who also enjoys musical arts. When they’re not writing, they enjoy singing and playing instruments, as well as dancing. They’re very passionate about their art, as you’ll read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly writing but I also do music such as playing instruments and singing, and I also dance too.

What inspires you?

The world — the universe itself is my inspiration. Also, my own experiences are my inspiration to because my work tends to be autobiographical.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

The knack and passion I had for those three things got me into it. It helped that someone with each of those things I do for art like my work. I always wanted to dance and do music, but writing aspirations came later but I always loved writing as well.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

No, I do not.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say to be bold, be yourself, and do not try to appeal to others, but yourself. Also, make sure your work is not bigoted and always analyze your work.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual and aceflux.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Yes, I have since acephobia is everywhere. I just counter the acephobia by reblogging ace positive content or just what acephobia is without addressing the acephobic people; so essentially no-platforming.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I have encountered mostly that “asexuality is not a sexuality” and “asexuality equals repulsion”.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I would say to focus on the support. I would say to look at ace positive blogs or reach out to people who are ace-friendly to regroup.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Since I am an independent writer, it is on my Tumblr blog: angelofsunshine99.tumblr.com and I would either have my work tagged as “poetry” or “writing”.

Thank you, Angel, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Julien

Today we’re joined by Julien. Julien is a young performance artist who loves everything about the theater. They love to act, sing, dance, and are particularly fond of musical theater. They also have a love of writing and enjoy writing screenplays and comics. When they’re not performing, Julien enjoys working on crafts, mostly friendship bracelets and cards. It’s very apparent they have a great deal of passion, as you’ll read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My primary art form is probably theatre, where I sing, act, dance, stage manage, write, and direct. I’ve written and directed 2 one act plays in the last year. I just finished stage managing my first musical, and was very surprised at how much fun I had. Before getting into the technical aspect of theatre I was more focused on the performing arts and was not sure how exciting tech would be, but I was so glad to find a use for my managing skills in a medium I already loved! I have been singing as long as I can remember and started vocal training 5 years ago. It’s been great to watch myself grow in something that I don’t have much natural talent for – only natural passion.

I also love writing and am currently working on writing the scripts for a comic my friend is making.

Friendship bracelets and other crafts are the art I turn to as mediation. I find the repetition and the slowly emerging pattern very soothing.

What inspires you?

In theatre, I am continuously inspired by the trust and camaraderie that always develops between the entire cast and crew. I love the different aspects of it, and I love being able to use my analytical management skills in conjunction with my creativity and flexibility.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve wanted to be many things, and had been resisting a theatre career path because I worried it wouldn’t be monetarily rewarding enough. I have now come to the point where I realized that while my many interests come and go with time, theatre has always been such an important part of my life that it’s a safe bet to assume it will continue to be.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try everything. If you become interested in blacksmithing one weekend, find a class. Anything you can teach yourself, do it. Learn as much as you can while you’re young and find out what sticks with you as you get older.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

As a writer, a-specs are commonly ignored even among LGBT+ literature.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Find analogies for asexuality. They’re usually aimed at allosexuals (non-asexuals), but they can help even a-spec people understand their sexuality, especially if they’re questioning. Find ace-friendly blogs and a-spec people who are confident in their sexuality and see how you relate to their experience.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

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passing-human.tumblr.com

Thank you, Julien, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jessica

Today we’re joined by Jessica. Jessica is a phenomenal and versatile artist who is currently studying for a degree in graphic design. She mostly does digital drawing although she has done quite a few different forms of art. It’s very clear she has an incredibly creative spirit and a love for her art, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mostly draw, both traditionally and digitally, and write, but I also knit, am learning bass, did dance (tap, ballet, dance team, mostly jazz) from the time I was two until last year (with some breaks in between), and have dabbled in photography. A lot of my life revolves around some kind of art. Currently, though, I mostly draw digitally and will be getting a major in graphic design.

What inspires you?

Music (anything from classic rock to pop to alternative to punk pop), coffee (thank God for Starbucks), real-life events, fandoms, and staring off into space

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I used to draw on MS Paint during school (I’m homeschooled!), and my dad introduced me to GIMP, which was the big start of my digital art obsession. In middle school, I took a photography class, which introduced me to Photoshop. In ninth grade, I took a graphic design class, and since then, I’ve played around with all kinds of digital media, from photo editing to drawing, and I just feel like it’s what I’m meant to do with my life.

As for the second question, yes. I’ve been drawing since I was little. The style of art has changed (from illustrator to author to artist to graphic designer), but art has always been what I wanted to do.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I mostly draw horses (as that’s all I can draw; guess that’s the curse of being the horse girl), and the eyes are cartoonish, so I guess that counts.

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I’ve Been Thinking Too Much

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The usual stereotypical advice: practice like there’s no tomorrow. If you draw, keep drawing until your fingers are calloused. If you’re a musician, lose your voice or make your fingers bleed. Practicing is the only way to get better. Also, if you have a way to sell or commission your work, do it! A little extra pocket money is always nice.

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Scaled Dragon

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an asexual panromantic

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Well, my parents basically told me I’m a late bloomer (it was implied more than anything). I doubted myself for a few months to a year before decided the joke’s on them and I’m ace af

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Well, I haven’t come out to many people, but almost none of them knew what it was, so I had to explain. Once they had it figured out, that was it.

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Stay Alive

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s okay to experiment with your orientation. I went from asexual heteroromantic to biromantic to finally panromantic in about six months total.

Also, there will be people who reject your orientation just because they don’t know what asexuality is. Just brush it off and keep shining bright. 🙂

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

DeviantArt: http://jlryanhorses.deviantart.com/
Wattpad (pretty inactive): https://www.wattpad.com/user/_hawkstorm_
Art Tumblr (also pretty inactive): http://thewinterartist107.tumblr.com/
Non-Tumblr Blog: https://jlrstories.wordpress.com/

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Thank you, Jessica, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Hana Li

Today we’re joined by Hana Li. Hana is an exciting first for Asexual Artists: she’s a burlesque dancer. She specializes in nerdlesque and queerlesque, as you’ll soon read. Hana has written on her blog a couple times about how asexuality factors into her art. Aside from burlesque dancing, Hana also participates in drag performing. She has so much passion for her art and I learned quite a bit reading this interview, as I’m sure many will. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Black Glasses Hana Li photographed by Brandy Lynne Photography

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am burlesque dancer. For those of you who don’t know what it is, burlesque is striptease for a broad audience rather than one individual tipping.  It often has elaborate costumes and a storytelling element.  My specialty is nerdlesque, a sub-genre that references pop culture and fandom, and queerlesque, burlesque from a queer POV.

I also perform drag as Tony Fo-Hawk.  He’s my failed self-cloning experience since my tagline is “lab teched my way through striptease school.”

What inspires you?

As a burlesque dancer, I’m inspired by my fellow Asian performers, past and present.  We are often out of control of our bodies and sexuality with our culture wanting us to be modest and reserved while Western media depicts us a exotic flowers and dragon ladies.  Learning about the dancers in Chinatown’s Forbidden City and about my contemporaries gave me the courage to start performing.  I’m also inspired by good stories, characters I connect with, music that makes me want to move, and action sports.  I’m an X Games fanatic and the “go big or go home” attitude that the athletes live by push me to always give 110% and take risks.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

In my adolescent years, I was drawn to sensual forms of dance.  I was actually a belly dancer first, but when I got my own place, there weren’t any classes near me.   Before my partner moved in, I took classes at a studio near his apartment, and that was where I decided to try burlesque.  At that time, I had seen performances at a show and was really inspired by the confidence of the dancers.  The teacher, Ginger Valentine, later moved to the Ruby Room, a burlesque studio that I could get to.  By then I had seen some shows sand was getting interested in the history of burlesque so I signed up.  I never intended to be a performer, but the community was so welcoming and the teachers at the Ruby Room were so encouraging that I got sucked in.

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Hana Li photographed by JD Morgan

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t really have something in all my acts, but I have what I call “ace pride” socks that have made a couple of appearances.   I wore one in my solo debut act since that performance was supposed to embody me.  Then I decided to add them into my gender-bending Tuxedo Mask number for the Texas Queerlesque Festival as a statement that we do belong in the queer community.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Stay true to yourself while remaining open to change.  It’s easy to get caught up in doing what sells best, but you have to believe in what you do.  Although I studied classic burlesque, inspiration pointed me in the direction of nerdlesque.  I fought that label since nerdlesque wasn’t too popular, but I figured out how to incorporate my classic bump and grind skills with nerdy themes.  The same happened with drag.  I figured doing queerlesque was enough, but one day it wasn’t, and I decided to hand over some routine ideas to my drag self.

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O-Ren Ishii Hana Li photographed by Miracle Bennett

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m grey-asexual.  I’m heteroromantic, but my aesthetic attractions are primarily towards women and androgynous individuals.   Aesthetic attraction plays an equally important role in my identity, as I feel that’s what shifts me from being strictly ace to somewhere in the grey area near ace.   It’s hard to explain so I tend to tell people I’m a “genderqueer grey-a”.  I do wish there was more conversations about all the forms of attraction, not just sexual and romantic.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

People don’t think that I can be ace and a burlesque dancer because in their minds, burlesque is sexual. Depending on the situation, I’ll either wave them off or educate them about the difference between “sexy” and “sexual”.  An on-line conversation, plus some encouragement in a burlesque social justice forum, led to me writing my thoughts out in this blog post: http://hanaliburlesque.blogspot.com/2016/02/burlesque-for-me-is-not-about-sex.html

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The number one is that aces don’t have a libido or engage in intercourse.  For a while, I bought into the idea that I was “too horny” to be asexual.

I do have to bring up another misconception I frequently encounter: that my grey-asexuality is the result of either my day job or my culture.  Both make me go WTF?! because they lump me into a stereotype, and it’s actually kind of offensive.  I did have a conservative upbringing, and I suspect that at least one of my parents is ace (unfortunately I don’t have the vocab in Mandarin to talk to them), but that doesn’t mean Asians are asexual.  Likewise, working in science doesn’t make me ace, just like doing burlesque doesn’t make me sexual.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Know that there isn’t a simple definition.  Yes we say “lack of sexual attraction” to make the conversation easier, but there’s an entire spectrum and sometimes exceptions happen. I’ve known lesbians who became attracted to a man and pansexuals who don’t love all orientations.  You don’t have to have a check list to fit into an orientation, and you shouldn’t let people try to make you feel like you don’t belong.  Sometimes I still wonder if I’m “queer” enough even though I perform and produce queerlesque shows.  It’s important to recognize your privilege, but not at the cost of denying your identity.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I blog about my shows and experiences here: http://hanaliburlesque.blogspot.com/

You can learn about upcoming appearances and see performance (and cosplay) photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr:

https://www.facebook.com/hanaliburlesque
https://www.instagram.com/hanaliburlesque/
http://hanaliburlesque.tumblr.com/

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Thank you, Hana, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Andromeda

Today we’re joined by Andromeda. Andromeda is a phenomenal dancer who specializes in partnered social dance with a passion for the Lindy Hop in particular. She has been dancing for two years now. Andromeda is a female lead, which is always cool since dance traditionally has a male lead and female follow. Andromeda is incredibly enthusiastic about her art, as you’ll soon see, and the pictures she sent along are absolutely stunning. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a swing dancer! Swing dance is a partnered social dance, typically performed to big band or jazz music from the first half of the twentieth century. Lindy Hop, the style that I primarily dance, was developed by 1940s African American dancers in the dance halls of Harlem, most notably the Savoy Ballroom. Along with traditional 8-count Lindy Hop, I enjoy incorporating elements of 6-count Lindy Hop, Charleston, blues, and solo jazz into my dancing.

What inspires you?

Because swing dancing is a social activity, I constantly dance with other great dancers who inspire me to polish my swingout (the Lindy Hop basic step) and make my dancing as clean and energetic as I can. Along with my dance partners, one of my most consistent sources of inspiration is taking Lindy Hop classes. I have a theory that because we rarely feel inspired in school, many artists hesitate to look for inspiration in classes about their art, but it can be a great way to both improve your technique and be inspired by the instructors. It always makes my day when an instructor tells me, after struggling to nail a move for an hour, “That was perfect!”

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I first became interested in swing dancing when I went to college and joined a swing dance club. Once I discovered the swing community’s world of opportunities for personal, social, and artistic growth, I was hooked!

I have never had artistic aspirations – I actually don’t think of myself as a very “creative” or “artistic” person – but swing dance is always challenging me to step outside my comfort zone and create new ways to express myself while dancing. I guess I just kind of fell in love with it – which, in all honesty, is probably the best way to become an artist.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I am a lead, which is unique because I am also a female. (Traditionally, male swing dancers lead and females follow.) Because I followed for a while before I realized that I preferred dancing as a lead, I have a special understanding of what the dance is like for my follows, and I do my best to make sure that they are comfortable and have plenty of room for their own styling while dancing with me.

Although there are many swing dancers, both male and female, who are “ambidancestrous” (can both lead and follow), I am one of the only female dancers I know of who leads exclusively – which is to say, I will always lead unless my partner specifically says that they would like to lead. To help visually communicate this idea, I usually dress androgynously (jeans and a button down or t-shirt) when I dance – not to look like a man, but to separate myself from women who exclusively follow, who typically wear skirts.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never be afraid of hard work. I won’t lie – it can be extremely difficult to invest your time, money, and effort into learning new styles and honing your technique. But the truth is, if you’re dedicated to your art, hard work is just passion put into motion – and for dancers, the moment you get out on the dance floor and feel new confidence in yourself and your abilities, everything becomes worth it.

Also, as a side note – don’t buy any special equipment until you feel like you’re being held back by inadequate supplies. I danced for two years in oxfords or sneakers before the rubber soles became a problem, and then I dropped the big bucks on real swing dance shoes with suede soles (the industry standard). You CAN start to become a great artist using whatever you have available, as long as you dedicate your focus and effort!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

No, I’ve actually been very lucky – the president of the swing dance club at my school is also ace! We like to laugh together about how so often people think that dancing together is an expression of romantic interest or sexual tension, when for both of us (and most swing dancers, regardless of sexuality) it’s just a fun activity that we love.

When I have encountered prejudice or an unwelcoming attitude, it’s because I’m a female lead. If a follow turns me down when I ask them to dance, I just shrug my shoulders and find someone else. Sure, there may be some follows who won’t dance with me, or who think I’ll never be as good as a male lead, but it’s not my job to make them change their minds. It’s my job to become an amazing swing dancer – for myself, not anyone else – and let them think whatever they want as they watch me fly around the dance floor.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

There are two. The first is that I can’t appreciate how lovely people are. I’m a dancer – I have enormous amounts of appreciation for how people can move their bodies in beautiful and artistic ways. Being asexual is in no way a detriment to my ability to appreciate good dancing in others, and I think that’s really important to understand.

The second is that I can’t enjoy dancing a more sensual style, such as blues, where the follow’s torso is pressed against (or “connected with”) mine, and we’re moving together in very close sync, typically swaying (or “pulsing”) to a slow beat. I actually enjoy blues very much – not because it feels sensual or because I’m attracted to my follow, but because it’s fun to invent ways to make slow dancing interesting, and I like the sensation of having a strong physical connection with my follow. I think that allows for better dancing, which is always my goal.

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What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

If you’re struggling with asexuality – and especially if you’re scared for the future – please know that being asexual isn’t the end of the world. It may be the end of your expectations, but that means new opportunities to grow. I spent a lot of time a while back telling myself I wasn’t ace, because I was terrified of what it would mean if I was. I wish I had spent that time honestly exploring my identity, rather than being afraid of it. The most important thing you can do is accept who you are now and grow from there.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Bobby White, one of the best swing dancers out there, writes at https://swungover.wordpress.com. If you’d like to know more about Lindy Hop, I definitely recommend reading his articles.

Thanks for reading!

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Thank you, Andromeda, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sandie

Today we’re joined by Sandie. Sandie is an incredibly exciting first for Asexual Artists: she’s a professional dancer. Words cannot describe how excited I was to be contacted by a dancer (dance is one of my absolute favorite arts). Sandie has an amazing love for her art, as you’ll see from the interview. She definitely has a dancer’s soul and an incredible love for her art. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a professional dancer. I feel as though I come alive when I’m on the stage and using only movements and dance to portray stories and emotions. Dancing helps me express myself so much better than I ever can with words. I’ve trained for years in ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap, commercial, pilates, as well as acting, singing, and the clarsach (Scottish harp).  My main focus is jazz or contemporary dance though. I’ve done a few dance jobs since graduating last year, everything from emotional contemporary duets to ensemble and featured dancer in a pitched musical to street performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Every job I do is completely different, some last an evening, others last weeks. It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to be a dancer; but it is all worth it when I step on stage.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by lots of different things. I love to watch other dancers to see how the move and interpret the music, I have learn so much from watching others. When I choreograph I try to take inspiration from many sources; music, emotions, other art, stories. Although it may sound a bit self-centred but I do find I’m inspired by just how far I’ve come, and what I’ve been through to get to this point in my life.

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What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to dance. I went to my first ballet class when I was about 2 ½ years old because I kept walking around on my tip toes and I haven’t stopped dancing since. I started doing more and more classes and performances as I got older but it was only when I got to high school that I realised there was nothing else I would rather do, and I could actually make a career out of dancing. I had a lot of people (teachers and family member mostly) tell me that I should focus on getting a “real job”. Instead of listening to them I spent 2 years in full time training with a semiprofessional ballet company touring ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Swan Lake’ around Scotland and China. I realised I was never going to be a ballerina so I moved to London to study dance and musical theatre. I have no idea what I would be doing if I wasn’t dancing, it’s all I know and it’s what I love.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

A lot of the time dancers don’t get much (any) say in what you perform, you get told what movements to do and how to perform them. It does mean that every dance that I get to do is completely different so every job is a new experience, and also get to bring other people’s ideas to life.

However the few times I have been able to choreograph my own dances they end up either very cute and cheesy, or strangely dark. I became slightly infamous in my time at college for creating contemporary dance solos about dark and creepy ideas. My favourite solo was a dance based on the personification of Death, it was so much fun to go to complete extremes with both movement and performance (as well as getting to scare the audience). I will always have a soft spot for Charleston-esque jazz dances though!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it! My parents always told me “if you do a job you love, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” I think it’s better to try your best. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end you’ll be able to look back and say that you gave it your all and have no regrets and no ‘what ifs’. Don’t let opportunities pass you by, the worst that can happen is they say no.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Panromanic Asexual

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve found not many people in the performance industry have even heard of asexuality, let alone know what it is. So most people just react by saying “that’s not a thing” and “how can you not want sex?!” It is difficult sometimes being an ace in such a hyper-sexualised field. Because so much of the dance industry does revolve around sex, it can be quite tedious. Quite a lot of them time the only direction you are given as a dancer is to “be sexy”, you are expected to wear skimpy and revealing outfits, so it’s not exactly the easiest environment for an ace. It was quite liberating once I had figured out that I was asexual, and that was the reason why I always found directions like that to be awkward and pointless. I tend to just ignore most of the sexualised comments and try to do my own thing; fake it until you make it. So far I’ve never met any other asexual dancers (or not any who were open to talk about it) but I hope I’ve been able to at least raise awareness of asexuality and show that we are all individual.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The idea that just because I don’t feel the need to sleep with a partner means that I don’t love/care for them. This response came from a close friend when I was confiding my feelings in her about the possibility of my asexuality. She made it sounds like I was being extremely selfish and it hurt because she was one of the first people I came out to. Also I’ve had a few people seem to think that I have a problem with people touching me in general, which is not the case. I had one person aggressively tell a guy that he should never touch me after he gave me a hug goodbye, which embarrassed both me and the poor guy; I have no problem with personal contact.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You are the only person who can define you. It is no one else’s business but yours. If right now, you feel like your orientation is different from a few months/years before, that’s okay. You are constantly changing and learning about yourself.

You and all your feelings are valid. You are not broken and you aren’t alone. You are you, and you are wonderful!

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I don’t have an official website but I do have my personal Tumblr account (I occasionally post stuff about work).

http://jealousyballet.tumblr.com/

So feel free to message me on there if you have questions or anything.

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Thank you, Sandie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.