“I give you the tools, and you paint me the picture”

FLINT, Michigan -- To say that Jesse Davis is an anomaly doesn’t do him justice. In his words, he is an “artist, dancer, singer, makeup artist, and an activist.” The 21-year-old Flint native is making moves, literally and figuratively, through dance and in heels.

Him/Hers Dance is Davis’ choreography business, providing Hip Hop and heels workshops in Flint and Detroit. The essence, and what he specializes in, is teaching men the skill and art of dancing in heels. In an industry where men in heels weren’t traditionally commonplace, Him/Hers is unique in that it’s the only business offering the skill of heels to men in Flint. That practice already happens in larger cities like New York and Los Angeles.

For Davis, the reason stems from the feelings involved with it. “It gives me poise. It makes me feel a little bit sexier. It’s a good skill for working the muscles in the feet,” he said.

In between cities for dance workshops, Davis sat down and answered a few questions from Flintside on creating a new Flint business and the challenges associated with dancing in heels.

Flintside: You are one of the very few, if not the only place, offering to teach men, across the board, the skill of dancing in heels. What’s the reason behind it?

Jesse Davis: “Him/Hers Dance started as Him/Hers Heels. Of course, you know, women do heels, but it’s a wonderful skill to learn [for men]. You get to create who you want you to look like when you come to class. No one else gets to make that for you. [Because of that] I put Him/Hers together, it worked out wonderfully, and it’s just grown. I’m a dancer, but I’m a choreographer more than anything. Heels have been my staple for a very long time now. It’s the skill of heels. Heels and Hip Hop are the two sections that I teach at Him/Hers Dance.”

Jesse Davis is a Flint native, dance instructor, choreographer, and activist.Flintside: Whom and where do you teach?

Jesse Davis: “I’m Flint-based at For The Love of Dance Studio, and at Exhibit X Studios in Detroit. My business caters to the age group of 15 to wherever you are in dance. If this is a skill you want to learn, you can come to my class and learn it. If you want to train with me under the Him/Hers family, you have the option to do so. My workshops range from $10-$12. My private lessons are $35/hr in Flint and $60/hr in Detroit.”

Flintside: You don’t expect men to dance in heels. The industry is changing, but even still, have you run up against any barriers?

Jesse Davis: “I'll say yes when it comes to the training aspect. [Him/Hers] was derived from the element of a man in heels. Usually, when you go out to a heels class, it's to build a woman's confidence, sexiness, and build up the woman. It's different because you're in an environment that is catered to women and then the skill. The battle is being able to stand present in myself in an environment geared for women.”

Flintside: What sort of environment have you fostered for men to be able to participate?

Jesse Davis: “My classes are very personal, and I give different styles. It’s about the skill instead of image. Because I’m a man, I understand the [male] body, and I can ground them. I try my best to make you feel safe being in my [class] as a man. As a man who dances in heels, I present people with choices. You don’t always have to succumb to what the next person may say to get the results you want. When they come to my classes, I personally tell everybody, ‘you don’t have to come to my class sexy. You can come to my class as comfortable as you want to be.'”

Flintside: Teaching, no matter what discipline, always involves getting to know the students. What are some lessons you leave your students, and now us with?

Jesse Davis: “I give you the tools, and you paint me the picture. I give you the steps, you paint it. I want to see you and what it is you’re able to bring to the table. [I want to see] where you are in yourself, with the skill, in life, and how you’re able to take what I give you and make it your own. That’s the kind of creativeness I’m bringing to the table with Him/Hers Dance.”

You can find Jesse Davis and Him/Hers Dance on Facebook, Instagram, and at [email protected].
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.