Italian dancer/choreographer Dolores Ninja (née Parisi) has made a name for herself in the Ballroom dance scene. Introduced to audiences and ultimately made iconic by Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, the Ballroom scene is a mostly Black and Latino queer community that emerged out of drag culture in 1980s New York. Since then, Ballroom has turned into an international community and, in recent years, edged into the mainstream with HBO’s reality competition show, Legendary.
One of those collectives of dancers—or “houses” in the scene—was the House of Ninja, whose lineage dates back to 1982. Dolores Ninja, currently the Mother of the West Coast House of Ninja, represented the House on the first season of the HBO series. LAMag reached out to Ninja to check out a workshop on runway walking, then was invited to check out one of her voguing classes. we couldn’t say no, so under Ninja’s tutelage, Ballroom novice Ben Kawaller got a crash course in tapping, dipping, battling, and serving face.
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