Dysphoria Ballet is a short, stop-motion film that portrays the internal morning routine of a particular trans woman. It is based on a series of interviews with a woman early in transition, and is what I consider to be a deconstruction, compression, and expressionist interpretation of these interviews. It was made with her enthusiastic support and approval. In this way, it might be considered a kind of animated documentary, but it is deconstructed to the point of ultimately being shown as a kind of “experimental-narrative” dance film. It is motivated by an exploration and validation of using performative expression as a healthy and necessary way of guiding one’s own personal narrative.
In this film, a woman wakes up and is immediately struck by a kind of “male armor” which attaches itself to her. Through dance, on the empty stage of her bedroom, she removes the armor plates piece by piece, revealing her true self. When completed, she dances in a euphoric way, delighting in having uncovered her truth. Then, confronting a mirror, she sees that her reflection still shows a male figure, which lurches out toward her. Though initially rejecting the figure, she sees that it is in distress, and accepts that this aspect of her humanity is part of who she has become and represents a piece of her personal history that she needs to encounter and resolve. The film ends with these two aspects of the person facing each other as the stage itself fades away. There is no more pressure of performance, simply an encounter with the self.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Stop-motion animation films--Themes, motives; Stop-motion animation films--Technique; Transgender women--Drama; Gender identity disorders--Drama
Film and Animation (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Film and Animation (CAD)
Sonntag, Andrew, "Dysphoria Ballet: A Morning Routine" (2020). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus