Dance troupe and reality TV stars The Prancing Elites are set to storm the Philly Pride stage this year for what is sure to be a show-stopping performance.
The gay and gender-nonconforming dancers from Mobile, Ala., star in their own reality-TV show, “The Prancing Elites Project,” on Oxygen. The five members of the group — Adrian Clemons, Kentrell Collins, Kareem Davis, Jerel Maddox and Tim Smith — deal with the realities of being out performers in often-hostile environments.
Collins, the group’s leader and founder, said the group started out performing at sports events and parades in the Deep South, where they often were the target of bigoted comments.
“In the beginning we were scared to do those types of events. I guess after gaining popularity, it hasn’t been as scary as it was before,” he said. “[The TV show has] definitely increased our popularity locally and nationally. Any time we go out of town, people recognize us. It’s opened doors for people from the South who struggle with being homosexual or transgender.”
The group’s increased visibility also means that aspiring performers want to be a part of it.
But Collins said that being a Prancing Elites member takes a lot more effort than most people expect.
“There are a lot of people that want to be a part of it but they don’t want to put in the work, or they don’t want to go through the things that we go through,” he said. “They just want to perform. But all of that comes along with it.”
The group’s heightened profile has also given its members a unique platform to reach struggling youth.
“I have noticed a lot of teens that reach out and say they’re going through the same things we go through growing up,” Collins said. “I think for me, I can’t speak for anybody else, I just realized that at one point in my life you have to just live for yourself. Either friends or family members are going to accept it or they are not. It’s not one of those things where you have to force it to make them accept it. They either will or they won’t.”