An aspiring ballet star is accusing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet of unfairly kicking him out of its school after he began acting in pornographic videos.
Jeppe Hansen, 22, had danced on stages around the world and studied in Montreal, New York City and his native Denmark before joining the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in September 2012.
Hansen beat out thousands for a spot and a scholarship in the prestigious dance school's professional division.
"My identity is built on being a ballet dancer," he told CBC News.
"For me to come there was a big opportunity for me."
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 RWB officials found out.
"They told me … they didn't have any space for me because I did porn," he said.
According to Hansen, school administrators asked him to sign a letter stating that he voluntarily withdrew from the program.
Hansen said he never wanted to leave the RWB, but he felt that officials had already made up their minds on the matter.
He accused the ballet company of unfairly trying to define what constitutes art.
"You cannot be in a company or with the school or whatever because you've decided to take a different standpoint artistically — not because you physically can't do it, or because you're not good enough," Hansen said.
"Being told because you're doing something else that's interrupting with what we think you can do is really difficult because they know it's your passion, they know that that's what you live off. They know my entire identity's built on it. So it was really difficult to be told that and to be told, 'You know what? There's no space for you here.'"
Hansen said he left the school in late March. In April, he left Winnipeg and moved to New York City to pursue adult entertainment full-time under the screen name Jett Black.
Royal Winnipeg Ballet officials told CBC News they cannot comment on personnel issues due to privacy concerns.
The school has a code of conduct for students and "the organization has policies and procedures in place for the benefit of all," a spokesperson said.
But the code of conduct, which is included in the school's student information handbook, does not say anything about side projects like the video that Hansen was in.
Danced for Queen of Denmark
Hansen started dancing at the age of two in a small village in central Denmark. From there he went to Copenhagen, where he danced in the Royal Danish Opera and The Ballet in Tivoli Gardens.
Danish Queen Margarethe II, an acclaimed set and costume designer, helped out with some of the productions that Hansen danced in.
Hansen said he even became part of an exclusive troupe that would dance at the queen's castle for her private parties.
"I appreciated working for her at the ballet and I would like to do that again," he said.
From there, Hansen attended dance schools and performed in Paris, New York City and Montreal.
While in Montreal, Hansen auditioned for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's professional division. He passed the rigorous two-stage audition process and the school accepted him in September 2012.
During his time at the RWB, Hansen won a prize for best choreography and performed in Sleeping Beauty in March.
Leaping into porn
Hansen said adult film producers had approached him during his time in Montreal, but he declined their offers. But he had a change of heart earlier this year, as he grew frustrated by the constraints of ballet.
"It was more important for me to be me and to do the things I wanted to do for once, and not what everyone else wanted," Hansen said.
"Being a ballet dancer is restrictive. Everyone tells you what you have to do, how to look, what to weigh, how to perform [and] be the artist you are."
Hansen appeared in his first pornographic video in February with the website CockyBoys.
In addition to sex-only videos, the website's owner, Emmy-award-winning producer Jake Jaxson, says he's trying to blur the lines between mainstream entertainment and adult entertainment with films that include a plot along with sex scenes.
"The films are meant to be entertaining and sexual at the same time," Jaxson said.
Jaxson said his films challenge what society considers to be mainstream and the kind of artists the public celebrates.
"I don't like movies that show young people's heads cut off or their arms ripped from their body. And everyone goes and watches that … and those performers are not looked at as being outside of the mainstream," Jaxson said.
"Personally, I find that not acceptable for me in my kind of entertainment, but I just choose not to pay for it."
Added Hansen, "To me no one can tell me what art is. Art is what you and I define art by."
'My dancing career is not over'
Hansen said he's currently enjoying pursuing adult entertainment full-time, but admits that he misses being a full-time dancer.
"It's such a big part of your life. I really do [miss dancing] and your body also misses it," he said.
Hansen said he hopes to return to professional dance one day, performing with a company that allows him to be the artist he wants to be.
"My dancing career is not over. And when they [officials at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet] told me that, I thought the same thing," he said.
"I'm taking a break from performing and I'll take this break until I find a place where I can fit in as a ballet dancer."
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