#BlackDanceHistoryIsHappeningNow: Maxfield Haynes

February 1, 2022

In celebration of Black History Month, Dance Spirit is saluting young Black artists who don’t just represent a bright future for the dance industry—they’re already making history of their own. First up in our series: Maxfield Haynes. Be sure to check dancespirit.com throughout February to meet more dancers who embody Black excellence in dance and in life. #BlackDanceHistoryIsHappeningNow

There are dancers who “can do it all”—and then, in a league entirely their own, there’s Maxfield Haynes. Haynes is equally at home in the hyperathletic repertoire of Complexions Contemporary Ballet and camping it up with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. They’ve performed at Madonna’s birthday party with James Whiteside and given a poignant interpretation of Giselle in Katy Pyle’s Giselle of Loneliness. They were recognized as one of Dance Magazine‘s 25 to Watch for 2022. And they made their NYC choreographic debut last November—at Lincoln Center, no less.

It’s an enviable career, especially considering Haynes is just 24. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all come easily. As a gender non-conforming (GNC) person growing up in the traditionally-minded ballet world, Haynes at times had to fight uphill battles just to dance and perform as the truest version of themself.

As they told Pointe late last year, “I’m lucky to have had a strong sense of self from day one. I have pictures of myself in dresses and tutus from when I was in, like, preschool—just because they’re beautiful, and I like to feel beautiful. [But] it was hard for a while, before I could actually have the courage to own my convictions.”

Haynes is part of a new generation of male and genderfluid dancers mastering pointework. Particularly with the Trocks, Haynes gets to playfully engage with rigid gender stereotypes. But it’s not all lighthearted for Haynes. Opening minds is core to their purpose and power as a professional dancer.

“I also get to see the reactions that kids are having seeing someone who is in a male body, muscular, masculine, dancing these very sprightly and effervescent roles on pointe,” Haynes told Pointe. “I have kids coming up to me afterwards saying, ‘Can you really fly?’ That has been very fulfilling, to help transmit ‘People who look like me—yeah, you can do anything.’ ”