All-male, gender-bending, Deep South dance troupe prances right into our hearts

At Idealist, we love good ideas of all kinds, but especially those that turn commonly-accepted notions on their heads, get us to confront our beliefs, and (maybe) stir up a little trouble. To honor ideas brave and bold, and inspired by Sydney, Australia’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, we welcome you to Idealist in Action’s Dangerous Ideas Week.
As Prancing Elites‘ captain Kentrell Collins says, “It’s OK for a woman to put on tights and play football, but when a man wants to put on a leotard and tights, it’s a problem.”

So what’s an all-male, gender-bending dance troupe from Mobile, Alabama to do?

WERK.

Photo-of-The-Prancing-Elites-Alabama-All-Male-Cheerleading-Team

Prancing to glory!
(photo via MemphisRap.com)

Prancing Elites have worked super hard in the almost 10 years since their founding: bringing their life-affirming art to new audiences; helping people rethink stereotypes about men, the South, and Spandex; and bringing back J-Setting just in time for Beyoncé to make the “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” video.

Along the way, they’ve garnered a lot of Idealist-approved street cred. Highlights include:

  • Getting tweeted about by fan Shaquille O’Neal, who sent 200,000 people to a YouTube video of theirs in 48 hours.

Today, we celebrate Prancing Elites’ continuing dedication to their ideals, art, and individuality—whether the reception they face is happy or hostile. Go, guys!

Has your self-expression ever caused a stir? Tell us about it in the comments.

*****

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Comments (4)


  1. Karen writes:
    February 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    They should be free to do what they want but from my understanding the problem is that there were children at the parade and the parents had no idea what was going . If you grind your three year old to a parade to see dancing and this team showed up I could see why you would be upset. Gender-bending dancers are too advance from children


  2. Laura writes:
    February 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    The Prancing Elites are fantastic! Yay! As a matter of courtesy, it is probably best to connect with them, directly and ask their preferred gender pronouns (PGP’s), especially since many people in the trans* and gender non-conforming community are sensitive to how gender is reported. (At least be clear in your reporting in this blog piece that you asked, and the members of Prancing Elites self-identified with the gender-related words in the piece.) While this article is very positive, phrases like “gender-bending” can be problematic, especially if you, as the reporter, are not clear in why you chose that specific phrase. GLAAD.org has great resources for journalists reporting on the LGBTQ community.


  3. Laura writes:
    February 3, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    For writer Karen, check out the video from their Christmas parade performance in Mobile: http://youtu.be/rbq6lUhVcQI

    Things to watch:
    1. Prancing Elites are wearing a lot of clothing for dancers (and more than most cheerleaders do).
    2. They don’t grind, touch their body parts or those of others, or even get closer than a few yards to one another.
    3. They actually prance and march – and dance – through the whole parade.

    Their set is actually quite entertaining. Considering people cheer, clap and are seen dancing alongside the parade route as they pass, my guess (as someone who frequently deals with hate groups trying to hurt vulnerable youth), is that the “controversy” is something hate mongers made up to boost their fundraising.


  4. April Greene writes:
    February 4, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Laura, you raise a good point about terminology! I had seen the Elites referred to as “gender-bending” in publications like the Huffington Post, and didn’t think much of using it (especially as I am such a fan!). But your comment has given me pause—it would have been far better to have asked the Elites directly how they wish to be described. Lesson learned!


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