Redefining Ballet, Redefining Form, Challenging Control: The Art of Brendan Fernandes

John Bateman, NewCity Art, October 12, 2022

“I was told I was good, but that I’d never be a principal dancer because Romeo is a white male,” Brendan Fernandes says. “I wasn’t tall enough, my feet didn’t have arches. Ballet has a hierarchy that there’s only ‘one way’ to do ballet. I’m challenging that system.”

The Kenya-born, Canada-raised artist finds pleasure in dismantling stereotypes. Fernandes, who attributes his sense of politics to punk rock and counterculture, left ballet for modern dance because it was considered “freer.” Although Fernandes has explored and incorporated other art forms, performance has always been at his core: he once described how he danced across the hall as a student at York University from one class to another.


His latest project is “Re/Form,” published by Skira in collaboration with The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, a monograph that archives—and perhaps translates—”Master and Form” and “Contract and Release,” two collaborative performances that merge ballet, sculpture and leather kink subcultures into something unorthodox.


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