Photography by Steeve Beckouet. Stylist: Laurent Dombrowics. Dress by Lanvin. Pants by Comme Des Garcons. Hat by Lanvin. Neckpiece by Uriel Salas.
Yanis Marshall insists he moves better in heels than out of them. “They change everything,” says the 24-year-old dancer and choreographer. A lifelong heel fanatic, Marshall finally slipped on a pair four years ago, and what started as a personal challenge to become a better performer quickly turned into a dance craze that combines elements of street jazz and cabaret. As a teacher, he shared his craft with students at the Studio Harmonic in Paris, but it wasn’t until he started uploading those sessions to YouTube that the world took notice.
Thanks to intricately choreographed routines performed in platform stiletto ankle boots (his heel of choice), Marshall became a click-baiting hit. He’s strutted to the tunes of myriad pop divas, and a clip set to a Spice Girls medley has netted 4 million views. Beyoncé has since shared his material, he’s performed on Ukraine’s version of So You Think You Can Dance, and he travels the world teaching packed rooms of smitten pupils how to groove.
Having brought fans (and Simon Cowell) to their feet as a contestant on the latest season of Britain’s Got Talent, Marshall is now eyeing grander prospects, like Broadway. Until then, he plans to keep deflating the notion that heels are girls-only. “On a woman, they’re sexy and cool, but on a man, they’re even more impressive,” he says. “I don't feel like I’m a woman when I’m dancing. I have heels on, but my body is manly and strong.”