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Ballet dancer Roberto Vega Ortiz is en pointe when it comes to challenging gender norms

Photo by Isaac Hall.jpeg
Isaac Hall
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Ballet Dancer Roberto Vega Ortiz - Ballet22

En pointe is a technique in which ballet dancers support their body weight on their toes while their feet are in a vertical stance. Traditionally it’s performed by female dancers, but ballet dancer Roberto Vega Ortiz challenges these gender roles.

"It's not okay for society anymore. People are being pressured to change and adjust and move on with today's society. It's not 300 or 400 years ago. It's not the same. We've moved on. We've changed."
Roberto Vega Ortiz

What started off as a fun online project during quarantine Vega Ortiz turned it into a space in Oakland for men and nonbinary artists to feel comfortable and perform professionally en pointe.

Roberto Vega Ortiz will be performing with his dance company, Ballet22, on July 29 and 30 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco.

This interview was produced with help from Porfirio Rangel.

Jeneé Darden is an award-winning journalist, author, public speaker and proud Oakland native. She is the executive producer and host of the weekly arts segment Sights & Sounds as well as the series Sights + Sounds Magazine. Jeneé also covers East Oakland for KALW. Jeneé has reported for NPR, Marketplace, KQED, KPCC, The Los Angeles Times, Ebony magazine, Refinery29 and other outlets. In 2005, she reported on the London transit bombings for Time magazine. Prior to coming to KALW, she hosted the podcast Mental Health and Wellness Radio.