Yannis Marshall, 28, has always wanted to be a dancer. His mother was a dance teacher and he inherited her skills.
“I can’t remember the exact song that first made me want to dance. It was either ‘Cold Hearted Snake’ by Paula Abdul or ‘Vogue’ by Madonna,” he explained.
“I was heavily bullied as a child. But later, I was lucky and fortunate enough to go to a very prestigious dance school.”
The man also inherited something else from his mother— a love for high-heeled shoes.
“I’ve always loved heels,” he says in a pre-recorded interview.
“My mother has about 40 pairs of heels.”
Now, before anyone goes on a homophobic diatribe, let me just remind you that heels were originally worn by men. Elizabeth Stemmelhack, of the Bata Shoe Museum in Canada, told BBC, “The high heel was worn for centuries throughout the near east as a form of riding footwear.”
In those days, many battles were fought on horseback. Therefore, it was important for riders to have good shoes that would be stable in the stirrups when attacking an enemy.
“When the soldier stood up in his stirrups, the heel helped him to secure his stance so that he could shoot his bow and arrow more effectively.”
Later, as Persian culture spread to Western Europe, heeled shoes were worn by upper-class men. When they became more ubiquitous, the rich men, hoping to separate themselves from the dirty, unworthy peasants, made their heels even higher. This is essentially the high-heeled shoe that we are familiar with today.
“One of the best ways status can be conveyed is through impracticality,” Semmelhack noted.
“They aren’t in fields working and they don’t have to walk far.”
Females only started wearing high heels in the 1630s, when masculine styles of dress became more popular. “In the 1630s, you had women cutting their hair, adding epaulets to their outfits… They would smoke pipes, they would wear hats that were very masculine.”
“This is why women adopted the heel,” Stemmelhack said.
“It was in an effort to masculinize their outfits.”
Now that we’ve clarified why high heels are, in fact, totally manly. Let’s get back to Yannis.
Combining his love for dancing and heels, Yannis was inspired to— well, dance in high heels. And in the 8th season of Britain’s Got Talent, the choreographer takes his talents to the stage.
Yannis teams up with Arnaud and Mehdi, two friends he met at a dance class, to give the BGT audience a high-energy dance routine completely done in heels to a Spice Girls musical medley.
The men move their bodies in perfect unison, sassily snapping their fingers and dancing to the beat.
Their routine is mesmerizing and nobody can resist the infectious energy.
The crowd goes completely wild.
“You know what, boys? That was ten times better than any female dancers we’ve seen on that stage today,” Judge Alesha Dixon tells them, afterward.
They’ve even won over Simon, who says: “You know what? On paper, this sounds fairly hideous. You know, three guys prancing in high heels, dancing to the Spice Girls— and yet, it kinda works.”
See the awesome audition below!
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