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By: Ian Maloney

Internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and teacher, Randolph Ward, presents the world premiere of “Boys Will Be Boys” on Saturday, July 10 at 8 p.m. at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

Born and raised right here in Liberty City, Ward is as Miami as it gets. “I started dancing and studying dance when I was 10 years old at Charles R. Drew K-8 Center after one of my elementary school guidance counselors noticed me dancing in the school’s production of The Nutcracker. She asked me if I wanted to apply to Charles Drew’s dance program,” Ward says. (Charles R. Drew K-8 Center is a visual and performing arts magnet program, part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools.)

Ward attended New World School of the Arts for three years of high school and then left to study with the San Francisco Ballet. While there, he had an experience with one of the instructors who saw him in the dance studio in a tutu pretending to be a female ballerina. Ward recalls, “She pulled me to the side and said – we don’t care what you do on the outside, but don’t bring that in here.” Ward describes this attitude as “toxic,” and “Boys Will Be Boys” represents his healing from a lifetime of that toxicity he has faced as a Black, gay man in America.

I caught up with Ward during rehearsals for “Boys Will Be Boys,” in what has proven to be one of the craziest years most of us can remember.

How has Covid-19 changed you?

While my husband and I were on lockdown, I had an epiphany – I don’t need all this (expletive) that I have. All I need is food, water, my phone and shelter. We have been able to save so much money because we slashed all the crap we were spending on.

Tell me about “Boys Will Be Boys.”

It deals with toxic masculinity, but it’s also about healing from that. The show actually started in 2020. The first premiere was supposed to be last year – May 1 and 3 – but we all know how that went. Luckily, some of the original cast are still with me. I am so grateful to have been awarded a Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Choreography grant, which helped make the show happen. Once I got a new date for the show – with all the new Covid-related rules – I had to re-work the concept, but what emerged was more personal. I think this show, the one we ended up with, will be more impactful.

How did the theme of toxic masculinity come about?

It’s kind of interesting. I expected the outside world to be all about masculinity cause that’s what you learn from society. But I didn’t know that the same ideas were just as present in the whole ballet world. It’s exactly the same. You’re asked to be a man, be strong. Most of the roles for men in classical ballet are about strength, courage, taking care of the family. The woman is always frail, weak, and needs to be saved. That’s why I only spent four years out of my 15-year career in a classical ballet company. I felt like I had so many other sides of my sexuality to express because I am both masculine and feminine. And I think every human being on the planet shares both of those traits, but we’re just not allowed to express both of them and use both of them – it’s only one or the other. Another reason for the show is because of the sort of “mass exposure” that trans women, particularly Black trans women, have been getting recently – in positive and negative ways. It impacts their lives on a daily basis. A lot of Black and brown trans women and men have been murdered all over the U.S., so that’s kind of what inspired my ideas.”

What has it been like working at the Sandrell Rivers Theater?

I got involved with them because I applied for the Capital Arts Partnership. They were looking for show ideas and I presented the idea for “Boys Will be Boys.” The theater is AMAZING! It’s a brand new theater, with a spung dance floor and LED lights. I am really proud that the county put in this REAL theater. It’s so beautiful, and I’m just excited to work with those LIGHTS! I’m going to have a real show now!

“Boys Will Be Boys” is an emotionally charged evening that dissects toxic masculinity and American ideologies surrounding manhood. It features a diverse and multicultural cast of five dancers: Natanael Leal, Karl Stephan St. Louis, Ryan Nicholas DeAlexandro, CC Glitzer and Ariel Mugler. The performance runs one hour, followed by a brief Q&A with Ward and the cast. This show is made possible with support from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Fantasy Theatre Factory, Miami-Dade County Capital Arts Partnership Program, Sandrell Rivers Theater and the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE).”