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The DC Cowboys dance company
   
 

The DC Cowboys dance company is an all-male performing arts troupe for gay men. It was founded in 1994 by the DC Cowboyscurrent Artistic Director Kevin Platte, and has in the last 16 years greatly evolved into a national and international sensation.

Though the DC Cowboys website, dccowboys.org, contains a plethora of pertinent information and some fun facts about the dancers, Platte was kind enough to chat with QSaltLake about the conception of the Cowboys and his great pride for what the company has accomplished over the years, as well as its future endeavors.

 
 
   
 

“We started from very humble roots,” Platte said of the Cowboys’ first performance, which was meant only to be a “one-time shot.” But after their performance during the DC Gay Rodeo weekend, six of the 12 original dancers wanted to “continue the journey.” Since that time, when they once grabbled with their identity — who they wanted to be, what they stood for — the troupe has grown in number to 20 dancers, ranging in age from the 20s to 40s, and it has become an important and positive patron for HIV/AIDS organizations, providing no-cost entertainment for benefit events and foraging donations through the sales of the troupe’s annual calendar and DVDs. “At first we just took every opportunity to perform,” said Platte. “It was just for us … it was selfish in the beginning but then it became selfless.”

Los DC Cowboys dance

 

That philosophy seems to carry-over to today. Robert Neff, a sophomore Cowboy, said, “My favorite part about being a DC Cowboy is being able to take on a hobby that not only promotes physical fitness, travel and socializing, but also allows you to support LGBT awareness and give back to the community. It’s really a win-win.” And nine-year veteran Chad Townsend, nicknamed Chandy (according to the website), said, “Looking at my life as an amateur musical theater performer, I never imagined that someday I’d be a gay dancing cowboy.” “But it’s been amazing, he continued, “to perform at [events like] Wrigley Field for the closing ceremonies of the Gay Games and on a gay RSVP cruise through the Caribbean.”.

Craig- Choreographer and Dancer

As a choreographer, what stresses you out the most?

I think the hardest thing for me is that we never know how many people are going to be doing a given routine, where we are doing a given routine, or how big the space is going to be. So you’re very limited. You can’t set too much specifically with the choreography, beyond the actual steps, or in terms of where you place people because you never know what the show is going to look like. You can’t say, ‘Oh I want this person to do this, and this person to do that.’ You have to think in broader terms. Which is frustrating because if you have things in your head that you really want to do and you can’t do them because of so many unknown factors.

Have you had any choreography that has been banned?

I haven’t had any choreography that has been banned, I’ve had choreography that’s been changed. Stuff that just wasn’t working, as a whole for the group, some people were getting it some people weren’t. Not necessarily anything that was too sexual, just stuff that didn’t look right in terms of our style.

Los DC Cowboys danceHow much of your choreography is line dancing?

Most of what we do is kind of like a combination of country meets Broadway. So it’s kinda like choreographed jazz hands routines, but basically jazz dance. The country comes more in actual style than it does in steps.

Do you guys traditionally perform at gay events and gay venues?

For the most part yeah. I mean whether it’s a fundraiser or charity event of some kind or gay pride of whatever. Usually gay events.

America’s Got Talent isn’t a traditional gay venue! How was the response after your time on the show?

Very positive. Being seen nation-wide by 40 million people has gotten us a lot of bookings, more outside the United States. But within the United States, I think a lot of the gay population may have already heard of us or seen us, so it introduced us to main-stream America which has opened doors for us.

What are the dynamics between the guys in the group? Is there competition? Is there a diva in the group and everyone is trying to get the solo?

I don’t know that it’s competitive necessarily. We’re all kind of brothers in a way, so everybody is here to support each other. That being said, I’m sure there are times when everybody was like, ‘why am I not in the front row? Why is so-and-so in the front row?’ But overall, we’re very supportive of each other. We don’t have any cat fights or anything.

What’s your favorite part about being a part of the Cowboys? What do you value most?

The friendship, the camaraderie. Getting to hangout with these guys outside of rehearsal is always fun. I’ve managed to make some really good friends over the years and I’ve also gotten some really good trips out of it too.

 
Do you like the country music & dance?

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