Ascendance by Celine Fortenbacher

Celine Fortenbacher is a German-Polish dancer and photographer, currently also working on filmmaking based in London. Throughout the 5 years since moving to London, the London ballroom scene has been a home to her, and this editorial was shot with two members of the London ballroom community in London, Notting Hill: Jugu and Anairin. Both Jugu and Anairin are queer models, performers and overall artists within and outside of the ballroom scene.

Anairin is from London and a fashion stylist, has worked as a creative director on fashion shoots, as well as continuously performed and modelled as well, and walks Vogue fem at balls when they’re on.

Jugu is a model and performer, born in Uganda, and moved to London when he was 15 years old. He’s been in ballroom for two years and counting is part of the Kiki House of Louboutin in the Kiki scene and walks Runway and Vogue fem at balls.

Ideas of femininity and masculinity are still very much tied to heteronormative, stereotypical expectations, especially for Black men. Ballroom has always found ways not to conform to those, or „use“ them in a different way by subverting these binary notions. The ballroom community, much like a wall of flowers, offers their members chosen families, houses, as a constant journey of growth, self-worth and self-expression. Being in ballroom is a long time commitment, from which you grow and ascend gradually, the longer you’re in it and the more you experience yourself as a voguer.

While I am a guest in this space as a cis white woman, it is important to note that ballroom has been created for and by Black trans women and the Black and Latinx LGBTQIA+ Community. The cultural history behind ballroom is what has informed the language of ballroom culture and voguing as we see it today and in categories such as vogue fem, to name a few. Please consider donating to either of the below charities if you are in a position to do so and come from a place of privilege. If you are interested in ballroom and you are queer, Black, and trans, please contact: David Milan @davidxmilan, Andra Ambrosia Gucci @so.ambrosia, Sophie Yukiko St Laurent @sophieyukikosaint, Georgina St Laurent @georginaleostlaurent.

Resources, charities, and funds to donate to:

Photography and creative direction by
Celine Fortenbacher
Instagram: @celineforten
Model Jugu / with D1 Models
Instagram: @w3b_st4r
Model Anairin
Instagram: @ana1r1n