I love shooting dance-themed photography — especially in dingy alleys. Here’s my shoot with budding singer, actor and dancer, Teaghan Young.
Teaghan Young: The best advice someone has ever given me is: “Success is the best revenge." That’s what they said before they screwed me over and I thought, “Hmmm…good mantra. Now I’ll have to be very successful so you will not be able to avoid seeing me." [laughs]
TorontoVerve: You’ve got a list of names for those people?
TY: Yeah. I just think it’s important to be nice to everybody even though you don’t like them because you never know where they’ll end up. Be nice to them until they give you reason not to. That’s what my mom told me.
TV: What does dancing mean to you?
TY: I fell in love with ballet when I first started my college course. It’s peaceful and graceful, but powerful. You’re doing things that your body shouldn’t be doing, but you have to make it look beautiful. It’s almost therapeutic. I love tap and jazz dance, but ballet calms me. I’m never going to be a professional ballet dancer. I’m never going to be in a company, but I just love it. Ballet is the foundation of all dance.
TV: Who inspires you in the ballet industry?
TY: Misty Copeland. She’s the first Black dancer to play the lead in Swan Lake. She’s so graceful and you can tell that she works so hard. Also my ballet teacher, Debbie, inspires me. She’s been with the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet and she’s done Broadway. She’s so funny and understanding. That’s how every ballet teacher should be. She gets that not everybody is built for ballet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. She can also do any dance move in jeans.
TV: Is the ballet industry really cutthroat?
TY: [Laughs] I don’t go to an exclusive ballet school. In general, the performing industry is very cutthroat. My program has a total of 150 kids in it. I made a family there. I know within my family it’s not cutthroat, but once I get out there, after I graduate, it’ll be a shark tank.
TV: In the movie Showgirls, the seasoned performer makes life difficult for the new kid because she feels threatened by her talent. Have you ever encountered that kind of treatment?
TY: Absolutely. I’ve encountered it a lot. It’s definitely hard to see a [newbie] sneaking up on your career.
TV: So what do you think of the TTC's "We Move You" ballet campaign?
TY: I think it’s awesome. I love the movement in their ads. It’s a great campaign.
TV: How do you feel about the controversy surrounding the campaign — specifically its promotion of unhealthy body images?
TY: I don’t agree with it. I think a lot of ballet dancers hear a lot of crap about their body. The women and men in the National Ballet of Canada are not thin because they don’t eat. They’re thin because they’re dancing 8 hours a day and they’re working out on top of that. I read an article where a woman said that it was an unattainable body type. I can understand the criticism if the TTC had skinny models in a photo-shopped ad, but those are the ballet dancers’ actual body. It’s wrong to tell plus-size people that they’re unhealthy. The same can be said about thin people. I’ve been accused of being anorexic when I was younger. Kids used to make fun of me. I know it’s not to the same extent as with plus-size people. It’s not inclusive praising one body type and shaming another. We should accept all body types.
Follow Teaghan on Twitter and Instagram.