DeToxic 2020

Hack Ballet’s project for 2020 is an exploration of the process of shedding toxic attitudes and limiting beliefs, in the age of #metoo and metamorphosizing gender, nationality and other identities. The project developed in response to the current climate of identity politics and the effect this is having on personal relationships, as well as the global outcry from the dance community to the recent Lara Spencer bullying comments about ballet training for boys on the Good Morning America television programme.

DeToxic uses ballet, contemporary dance, improvisation and contact techniques in solo and duet material that explores intimacy and aloneness, joy, reflects on beauty, serenity and harmony, and positive and negative sides of escapism and conflict avoidance.

What is the antidote to the toxicity of gender wars, social media, and incompetent leadership? DeToxic… creating the world we need to live in… and detoxing the harmful values and attitudes that have limited our potential in the past.


Research and Development Summary

An R&D investigating our response with consent, joy and connectedness to
contested cultural territory of gender, individuality, and relationships between
people of all genders who have been affected by manifestations of “toxic
masculinity”. Comprising residencies at Studio Wayne McGregor, Bristol Island
and New City Fitness, in which a bank of material will be developed for future
transformation into two modes of presentation:

  • Durational/immersive/gallery format
  • Theatre/formal grouping into three parts of a Triple Bill

A planned future tour will follow in 20/21 with pencilled dates at Bristol Island,
The Margate School, Margaret Shepherd Studio Theatre, Cockpit Theatre, and
Arts at the Old Fire Station Oxford.

What we want to achieve

Responding to Lara Spencer’s controversial 2019 comments about boys in
ballet, I will use studio residencies at Studio Wayne Mcgregor, Bristol Island and
New City Fitness to work with a diverse group of dancers, individually and in
groups, to reflect on our understanding of definitions of “toxic masculinity” and
how we might experience it as dancers, audiences and in everyday life.
Choreographically we will explore concepts of:

  • safe touch/trust/consent
  • relating to each other, in contact and in space
  • individual identity expression in set and improvised material
  • dichotomies of individual constraint, or empowerment, by knowledge, modes
    of transmission and performative conventions of contemporary ballet
  • use of contemporary ballet movement, and improvisation, to create “positive
    affect” (what makes us feel good?)
    We will add to our library of movement material to draw on for transformation
    into performance presentation in two formats at our sharings of work in
  • Flexible timing for more improvisation
  • Potential for 360 audience aspect
  • Can include immersive/promenade presentation
  • Can include live music performance
  • End on presentation
  • Greater development of narrative
  • May include defined periods of structured improvisation
  • Mainly recorded soundtrack
    During discussion forums, engagement activities and workshops, we will reflect
    on the questions – How does our performance of gender effect our choices in a
    contemporary ballet landscape? What real or fantastical narratives do we want
    to share with our audience (our community/culture)? How can we acknowledge
    the utopian/dystopian implications of the ways we seek to influence, judge, and
    control others as performers and people?

How DeToxic will develop the work of HackBallet

Building on the success of our Elicitations Triple Bill in 2018, this R&D phase
will allow us to develop and test new material in a variety of contexts with the
aim of developing a new Triple Bill programme with potential for touring.
This will develop my work by:

  • Giving space to apply a critical lens to toxic masculinity
  • Facilitate discussion of toxic gender norms
  • Establishing protocols for how we work together to address toxic
    power/gender imbalances
  • Build a body of educational material that can help us develop new
    engagement activities to accompany existing work
  • Employ different methods to create, examine, test, gain feedback and refine
    the choreographic material.
  • Implement data collection and market segmentation strategy
  • Improve knowledge about venues and markets
  • New opportunities to collaborate with musicians, photographers, designers
    and dancers
  • Opportunities for feedback and mentoring
  • Enhancing the artistic quality of my work
  • Creating high quality marketing & educational materials
  • Exploring effectiveness of marketing strategies & creating PR opportunities
  • Gathering data about our audiences
  • Expanding and developing audiences
  • Opportunities for artists’ professional development
  • Connecting our Bristol- & London- based artists and audiences
  • Strengthening relationships with venues with a view to future touring
  • Developing and formalising fair contractual frameworks
  • Developing project/people management, logistics, accounting & reporting skills
  • Making a positive contribution to the future direction of contemporary ballet

How you can help:

We are looking for core sponsors to help create our new Triple Bill and take us on tour.


Can you offer support in kind or use your skills to help make the project a success?

We are looking for volunteers!

  • Front of House
  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Workshops and Education
  • Community Connectors
  • Hard Yakka

If you can help us at an event, or connect us with a group, book a workshop, sell merchandise, or bring friends to our shows…

We would love to hear from you!

Get in touch at:

and let us know how you would like to be involved!