NEWS

Ballet dancer turned porn actor glad to start debate on art

07/09/2013 05:05 EDT | Updated 09/08/2013 05:12 EDT
A dancer who told CBC News he was kicked out of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School for acting in pornography says he has no regrets about sharing his story.

Jeppe Hansen came forward with allegations that the prestigious Canadian ballet school unfairly pressured him to leave after he appeared in an online pornographic video as a side project.

The 22-year-old, who now lives in New York City and is pursuing adult entertainment full-time under the screen name Jett Black, says he has been overwhelmed by the response from the public and other media outlets since CBC News published the story on Monday.

Hansen said he's glad that, at least, a conversation has been started about what is and isn't acceptable for an artist.

"Especially with mainstream entertainment today, everything from music videos to movies and commercials being so full of sexual material, I think it's a very important conversation to have," he said via Skype on Tuesday.

What is considered acceptable in art was one of the issues Hansen discussed in an online chat with CBCNews.ca readers on Monday.

Left ballet school in March

Hansen had danced on stages around the world and studied in Montreal, New York City and his native Denmark before he was accepted to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School's professional division in September 2012.

But earlier this year, Hansen appeared in his first pornographic video — a side project and an opportunity, he said, to express himself in a new way — and school officials found out.

He alleged that school administrators asked him to sign a letter stating that he voluntarily withdrew from the program. He left in late March.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet officials have told CBC News they cannot comment on personnel issues due to privacy concerns.

The only reference in the school's student information handbook to side projects, like the video Hansen appeared in, talks about outside performances related to dance.

"Please note that RWB School Professional Division students are not permitted to perform outside of the RWB School without permission from the RWB School Director," the handbook states in part.

"Any student wishing to participate in any additional dance program during RWB School breaks must also receive approval from the RWB School Director in advance. Requests for authorization must be submitted in writing."

What constitutes art?

Hansen said while he respects the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School's decision, he also accused the company of unfairly trying to define what constitutes art.

While Hansen said he's worried about how the news coverage will affect his family in Denmark, he's glad to see people are engaging in a debate about art and sexuality.

"What I wanted to do was to create a conversation about what's acceptable, where our sexuality visions and views are going, and what you can do as an artist — and within the parameters of being an artist — with sexuality," he said.

Hansen said the contemporary ballet community has been supportive of him and is looking for ways to work with him in the future.

MORE:cbcNews