For so many of us, the past year and a half has been a clusterfuck that doesn’t know when to quit. I think we could all use a timeline-cleansing treat of delicious male virtuosity.
By “virtuosity,” I’m talking about male beauties serving up incredible dancing, prancing, twirling, twerking, and flipping across the screen. To create this list, I spent more than 100 hours watching incredible dancers virtually get down while overcoming the unique odds of a pandemic that did everything to stymie their creative juices.
But you know what? RONA totally failed: These men stepped up to show how wonderful they are, with zero fuxs given for the possibility that they might never perform in front of a live audience again. More than their pretty faces, hot bods, or gravity-defying tricks, that’s what makes them beautiful: their desire to revel upon Ṣàngó’s altar, even as it often felt as if the world was ending.
Best of all, though each of these dancers is runway worthy, they eclipse standard measurements of masculinity while defining what it means to be gorgeous on their own terms.
So, with #HotVaxSummer upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, here are the 21 hottest male dancers of 2021. (We’ve also got a roll call going on Instagram at @DanceHottestMen.) Think of it like a joyous summer reading list, but of bodies in motion rather than words on a page. We who live within HIV and LGBTQ communities deserve joy and access to the arts—and these men are bringing it to their viewers, both aesthetically and as ambassadors of their forms.
As with prior lists cataloging hot dancers that I created for HuffPost in 2017 and BroadwayWorld in 2019, the order is random―meaning there are no rankings. Because each person on this list is delectable on their own terms.
Maxfield Haynes, Soloist With Ballez and Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Maxfield Haynes is the only person from my 2019 list to make this year’s cut. The genderfluid phenom returns again to show us how sexy and freeing non-binary living is.
Their dance credits include touring the world as a soloist with Complexions Contemporary Ballet; performing at the Joyce Theater in New York City in Ballez’s re-imagining of the classical ballet Giselle; becoming the first person assigned male sex at birth to dance en pointe in collaboration with Isaac Mizrahi and John Heginbotham in Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim museum in New York; and receiving a Works and Process commission from the Guggenheim to create a movement-based ode to self-care with LZ Granderson.
When they aren’t twirling on pointes, you can find Haynes modeling around the city in their signature heels, curating video projects that celebrate the beauty of Black men, or tempting the hordes while working the pole.
Jaxon Willard, Freelance Dancer
He’s blessed with model good looks and given to striking pouty poses, but Jaxon Willard is more than a temperamental pretty boy. He’s the perfect combination of physical splendor blended with commercial pop sensibilities and limitless imagination that brings the impossible to life through dance. Watching him bend over backwards and slide back up from the splits was enough to leave me sore yet delirious for more.
Unlike many dancers who have become models, Willard remains devoted to performing. Lucky us, because he was clearly born to move!
Yue Shi, Principal With Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Yue Shi is a dazzling virtuoso whose bag of ballet tricks is as bottomless as his bevvy of dance awards, which include gold and silver medals from Shanghai, Beijing, Varna, Jackson, Seoul, Moscow, and Osaka International Ballet Competitions.
Shi, a native of China, was recently promoted to principal rank of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, which he joined in 2015. In addition to a beautiful smile, he sports hooks for feet, ferocious athleticism, and a chiseled body of death which pairs perfectly with his performance style.
It’s a style that has been modeled after the classic daredevil virility of the Bolshoi Theatre, and yet, in place of toxic masculinity, he brings a sunny ardor to his craft that melts the audience’s heart.
Fabricio Seraphin, Freelance Dancer
Fabricio Seraphin spent last year’s outcry against police brutality dancing his way through numerous street protests. While proving that dance is activism, he left many around him bedazzled and dazed by his endless range.
These days, the Haitian-born contemporary dancer alternates between performing with numerous brands and choreographing his own jaw-dropping stories in the confines of his own home. Each mini-ballet that he creates illustrates that IG can play host to more than 14-second-long viral clips.
Similarly to what happens when he’s unleashing his passions at community actions, Seraphin’s body elevates the platform into a host for celestial artistic revolution.
Samuel Henrique “Samuka” da Silveira Lima, Soloist With ILL-Abilities Crew
At first glance, Samuel Henrique “Samuka” da Silveira Lima strikes one as a stoic handsome guy, but the second he launches into his own patented blend of hip-hop, physics-defying breakdancing, and tumbling, he reveals a roguish smile and spirited wit that matches the daring of the greatest stuntmen.
Watching the Brazilian native throw himself to the ground for a series of dizzying spins on one arm is enough to drop any jaw. Though what ices the cake is his talent for torquing his body back up to standing from impossible positions.
Samuka is 100% hot, but he’s also proof that regardless of one’s circumstances, nothing can stop a man who has the will to dance.
The Dragon Sisters, Cabaret Club Stars
When Cain Coleman and Issa Perez (aka Issa and Odessa Dragon) combine their powers, they transform into the gender-queering, hip-hop, cabaret stars The Dragon Sisters.
According to their Vogue magazine feature, the two met while studying dance at North Carolina School of the Arts. Ten years later, they’ve expanded their concert dance career ambitions to include devouring NYC’s nightlife scene.
Taking a look at the stages and collaborations that they’ve already rocked since forming in 2019―VICE, RuPaul, Phluid Project with Saks Off 5th, Billboard, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Le Trumpet party, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America―I think it’s fair to say that they’re already the summer’s newest queens and kings of good time hair-flipping, leg-splitting, rump-twerking fun.
Eddieomar Gonzalez-Castillo, Freelance Dancer
Since graduating from SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Eddieomar Gonzalez-Castillo has worked with leading choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and Visceral Dance Chicago. Though relatively new to the concert dance scene, and despite having lost a year of his burgeoning career, Gonzalez-Castillo’s startling fluency with contemporary dance is a sign that he is not to be slept on.
Here’s what I love most about him: Watching most dancers improv and play the game of “look what I can do” puts me to sleep. But Gonzalez-Castillo’s thoughtful creations take me on an exciting journey, precisely because they are filled with space devouring exploration, tied to rhythm, rather than pretentious, tic-laden therapy disguised as dance.
In other words, the brotha can jam—and when he does, he looks like calligraphy brought to life.
Abdiel Cedric Jacobsen, Ballroom Innovator and Champion
Adbiel Cedric Jacobsen has long been acclaimed for their performances as a principal with the Martha Graham Dance Company and as a champion hustle and Latin ballroom dancer. But despite those bonafides, they have zero patience for being confined to a box that seeks to define how Black people should move if they have been assigned male sex at birth.
In 2019, Jacobsen, alongside their dance partner, Kristine Bendul, made history as the first male-female couple in U.S. history to compete as Gender Neutral in the professional division of DanceSport’s ballroom competition. Performed while beaming a smile that could blot out the sun, Jacobsen’s dancing reveals that one can be gorgeous whether twirling in heels or flying barefoot across the stage.
Chun Wai Chan, Soloist at New York City Ballet
Chun Wai Chan traveled from his home in Guangzhou, China to join Houston Ballet, where he quickly ascended to the top ranks as principal dancer. After 10 years with the company, he announced that he was joining New York City ballet as a soloist.
Chan breezes through technical challenges with a joyous buoyancy that makes it look as if he were born on a cloud. In addition to a sky-high leap, the princely dancer is equipped with a generous manner that matches his outsize talent—as well as a passionate attack that leaves one breathless.
Leroy Mokgatle, Dancer With Béjart Ballet
Leroy Mokgatle took the ballet world by storm when he left South Africa to compete at the 2016 Prix de Lausanne—a prestigious dance competition where he won the coveted Audience Favourite prize. Though it appeared that his future was all but secured, the gender-fluid dynamo told me in an interview for Xtra! magazine that being forced to do “very ‘manly’ things” that worked against his delicate body was so dispiriting that he nearly quit dancing altogether.
That changed after he put on a pair of pointe shoes and returned to his “obsessive joy for dance.” At Béjart Ballet, where he currently performs, he has been given the space to perform in his own beautiful way, as both a man and a woman. Lately, that has evolved into tantalizing videos that capitalize on his incredible flexibility and plush technique in solo pieces as well as a gorgeous love pas de deux that shows how wonderful it is to see romance between two men.
Jona Yawaraka, Freelance Dancer and Breakdancer
I wasn’t sure what to make of Jona Yawaraka’s combination of hip hop and free-ranging spastic grooves—until I started listening to the background music. Then I realized that he was the perfect embodiment of free jazz music.
Though far from what one expects to see at a breakdance competition, Yawaraka is an absolute delight in the way that he plays with space and levels. He is at his utmost best while losing himself to the flow and forgetting that others are watching. It is in those moments that he becomes one of the most spontaneous, beautiful visions imaginable.
Siphesihle November, Principal Dancer With National Ballet of Canada
Siphesihle November’s Billy Elliot–like story and meteoric rise at the National Ballet of Canada is so compelling that it was being filmed for a documentary even as it was taking place.
Born in the small township of Zolani in South Africa, November was scouted and taken to study in Canada on full scholarship at an early age. Despite his short height, the prodigious wunderkind was offered a job with National Ballet of Canada as soon as he graduated from its affiliated school in 2017.
November was declared one of Dance magazine’s 25 to Watch for 2019, won the coveted Erik Bruhn Prize that year, and has scored critical plaudits, modeling campaigns, and audience adoration as he continues to ascend. This past month, he was promoted to the rank of principal dancer of National Ballet of Canada, which has also invested resources in filming choreographic creations and commissioned him to set a new ballet on its second company.
In that regard, November is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Mthuthuzeli November, a senior artist of Ballet Black in London and an acclaimed choreographer who won the 2020 Laurence Olivier and Black British Theatre awards for his ballet Ingoma. The two recently teamed up together for the first time as adults to create a new ballet, titled, My Mother’s Son.
Daniel Domenech, Corps de Ballet at Ballet Vlaanderen
Daniel Domenech presents himself as an absolute weirdo on his IG page, which makes him a near-perfect poster boy for Ballet Vlaanderen (formerly known as Royal Ballet of Flanders), which is run by the equally odd choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. In Cherkaoui’s works, one never knows what they are going to get: a frustratingly inert evening that fails to coalesce or a phenomenal set of feats that leave the mind reeling.
That’s also what makes Domenech, a native of Spain, so hot. Much like the house style, rather than preen over his model good looks, he thrashes around on camera and posts photos that make it nearly impossible to see just how handsome he is. He’s a feral creative who abandoned San Francisco Ballet’s obsession for pristine classicism and found the experimentation that he was looking for in the wilds of Flanders.
Unexpected and dangerous? Absolutely, and 100% worth the ride.
Stanley Glover, Soloist, House of Tisci and BalletX
Stanley Glover has been described by Dance magazine as a “physical polymath.” While that is true, what brought the Princess Grace Award-winner to public attention was not his stellar performances with BalletX―a contemporary ballet company based in Philadelphia where he is a leading soloist―but his star turn as a member of the House of Tisci on HBO Max’s competition ballroom series, Legendary.
Peeping Glover’s IG profile, one realizes that there is so much more to this dancer than we were allowed to see on Legendary, even though his house was renowned―and arguably robbed of its win—for its technically resplendent dance performances.
Whatever the case, seeing Glover’s gentle spirit and easy confidence is a reminder that there is nothing sexier than a man who feels no need to prove himself. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it—and Glover’s got everything, with a bag of chips on the side.
Shen Jie, Principal Dancer With Hong Kong Ballet
Shen Jie has had a banner season at Hong Kong Ballet, where he has performed since 2007—and where he has twice won the Hong Kong Dance Award for best dancer. This past year, the charismatic performer starred in choreographer Septime Webre’s futuristic ballet film version of Amadeus, returned to the technically tricky role of the jester in David Allan’s Cinderella, and debuted as the lead man in George Balanchine’s Rubies.
As always, he filled his performances with an “aw-shucks,” boyish wonder that invited audiences in and inspired them to get up and dance.
Christopher Ralph, Contemporary and Heels
A former dancer with Azure Barton and Artists and founding member and associate artistic director of Dash Ensemble, Christopher Ralph is renowned throughout New York City’s dance scene for his contemporary dance and heels classes at the dance studio Peridance, where he shows students how to tap into their inner sex kitten.
Watching this cap-wearing dude glide across the floor with slinky smoothness—or pop into a squat while riding the rhythm from the base of his spiked stilettos and up through his swerving hips—is an incongruous sight. But that’s what makes him so sexy: He gives you the mindfuck you didn’t know you deserved while enticing you to join in on the fun.
I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to risk breaking my ankles in one of Ralph’s classes, but I hope we get to see him star in a music video someday soon.
Sooraj Subramaniam, Freelance Odissi Dancer
Odissi is a sensual style of Indian dance that was once banned by Christian missionaries. Traditionally, it has been performed by women, though in modern times, one can sometimes find men in its reconstructions.
That’s why drinking in Sooraj Subramaniam’s interpretation of the style is so refreshing. He respects the rounded curves of the movement without interjecting sarcasm onto its love-based narratives; rather, he surrenders himself over entirely to the form while allowing his head to roll to and fro as he spins across tricky diagonals. While some fear being seen as feminine, Subramaniam has stated in interviews that he has “no problem playing the woman” in Indian dance.
To this day, what remains with me after seeing him at 2016’s Erasing Borders Dance Festival is the memory of a masterful performance that rendered audiences punch drunk in its dizzying aftermath.
Chalvar Monteiro, Soloist With Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Chalvar Monteiro is the mercurial wit of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: He can perform any classical feat that is asked of him with elan, but his soul belongs to experimental dance.
Though he could have gone the way of a Baryshnikov and made performing pyrotechnic dance tricks his brand, Monteiro has eschewed the grind of strict classicism. Rather, he reaches for soulful movement experiments that don’t always develop into fully fleshed narratives, but that feel worth the journey all the same.
It’s a fascinating contrast with the balls-to-the-walls performance style that one experiences at Monteiro’s home company. And it makes one wonder what the beauty might accomplish if being constantly fierce weren’t a mandate of his job.
Kentaro Mitsumori, Corps de Ballet With Royal Swedish Ballet
Kentaro Mitsumori has danced in the corps de ballet of Royal Swedish Ballet since 2017, but the phenomenal turner recently scored a big break when he was tapped to dance as Siegfried in the company’s filmed version of Nureyev’s version of Swan Lake.
One hopes that his successful debut leads to a promotion, because he clearly possesses everything one could want in a leading ballet dancer: precision, an exciting personality, and the risk-taking that helps to lift the staid artform out of the doldrums.
And though he’s certainly fun to look at, Mitsumori is more than a hot commodity; he’s the kick in the pants that ballet needs if it’s going to remain relevant for audiences today while paying heed to its foundational roots.
Donnie Duncan Jr., Artist With Nederlands Dans Theater
With his good looks and hot bawdy-awdy-body, it’s a given that Donnie Duncan Jr. is a walking thirst trap. But even more than that, when it comes to physical storytelling, he’s an absolute beast.
Rather than preen for one’s approval, Duncan earns accolades by imbuing every gesture he makes with fascinating details and an otherworldly movement quality that shocks with the impossibility of its existence. This effect is present whether he is performing in one of Nederlands Dans Theater’s patented non-narrative works or simply hanging from a wall.
Duncan is so interesting that his presence alone inspires audiences to lean forward and ask themselves: “Where did he come from, and where will he take me next?” The answer is somewhere bizarre and beautiful.
The Williams Fam, Hip Hop Social Media Stars
Any man who makes you laugh and gives you a good time is hot. But what do you call four adorkable brothers who know how to get down and leave you smiling? A sexy, fuckable, good time—aka, The Williams Fam.
Tag, Gage, Keene, and Rab are four biological brothers who grew up dancing in competition studios. After they started posting videos of their homemade routines on social media for fun, the group blew up, quit their day jobs, and made full-time gigs out of a combination of dance content creation, touring, and backup dancing.
Although on first glance they look like total skater/surfer bros, once they start grooving, their simpatico vibes exude a sexy flavor that’ll leave you cheezing all night long.
What Are Your Hot Dance Takes?
So what are your thoughts about the hottest men in dance of 2021? Who did we miss, and who should have made the list (and why)? Remember, it’s not enough to be simply hot; you have to have the video of your hot moves to make this list. So if you think we missed someone, holler at us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to let us know.