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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Coming out as a dancer?

Sanna Koulu

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Hello :)


I was browsing the men's and teens' forums and found a number of threads on telling people you do ballet and on the trade-offs of focusing on ballet.


Of course, it's probably harder for men in our culture, and pre-pros with such an intense commitment to dancing - but are there adult ballet students who have trouble telling people you dance seriously?


(I started ballet last year (at the advanced age of 25 :) and I've gotten looks from both non-dancing friends and my folk dance buddies. For some reason, even though I was used to dance rather a lot in several dance forms, it was the addition of ballet that bemused people.. Now that I'm recovering from tendinitis, it's sometimes hard to get anyone to understand that one can feel almost crippled with the 5-6 hours of dancing per week that the doctor allowed. Duh.)




- Sanna

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I understand what you're saying. I get a lot of strange looks and I'm a female (albeit old, but still). It is getting so that I try to hide the fact that I take ballet class. I camouflage it well just by my natural appearance :) But if asked about my schedule, I just simply say I take dance class. Then sometimes people get nosy and want to know what type, I just say ballet, and let it go at that. Additionally, I really don't like to perform and I tell people if asked about performing that I'm a closet dancer, that really gets them going. It's too bad that so many people seem to act as though taking a ballet class is akin to a four letter word. I asked my mother about this and she (in her ultimate wisdom) said most people are intimidated by anything anyone does which they themselves cannot do or that which they have always wanted to do but were too afraid to even try (most especially this). So, all I can figure is a lot of people would either like to be able to dance, or more likely are too afraid to even try to dance and therefore appear to become truculent when in reality they are simply jealous that you can do something that you really want to do. Did any of this make any sense?

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dancepig, lot of sense. I behave exactly as you do - I don't usually volunteer the information that I dance, if it comes up because of schedule or "what do you do in your free time" I use the term dance / dance classes, and if people ask what type only then I say "ballet". But I am lucky to have lot of friends who also dance, and other friends that approve of people doing weird stuff for fun, and among them I can talk about ballet and even rant about classes without too much restraint. :)


But I don't know if it's in my case so much that people feel intimidated; it seems to me it's more like a form of embarrasment. We, at least in Finland, seem to be brought up to not, in any circumstances, making fools of ourselves, which leads to not trying to do stuff that is "too difficult for you". I sometimes feel that people feel embarrassed on my behalf, that they pity me that I don't have the good grace of not knowing that ballet is for professionals... (I pretty much ignore them when this happens.)

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Well, put, and in most cases, I don't mind making a fool of myself, however I have now been coerced into performing in one routine in a show. Unfortunately, the owner of the studio doesn't realize that in this particular instance, she (in my opinion) has really "missed" with regards to the costumes. The routine is a "Rodeo" production. The entire cast is female. We have guns (toy guns), and we are wearing; cowboy hats, vests with fringe over t-shirts, false boots, pink tights (and now the kicker-which I just found out about two days ago) and white euro tutus. Not the traditional tutu, but a slightly longer european version, with a lot of chiffon. I call this Cowboy Drag Queen. This production might go off okay in my home town in California, but now I live in a very small rural community in Northern New England, so I don't think the audience will understand. My hubby thinks it will add to the comedy effect. We'll see. At least he had a good laugh when I wore it for him.

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dancepig, that sounds rather familiar :)


It's a pity that one can't convince the scoffers to at least _try_ a dance class, or ballet class more specifically. Of course, they might not like it a bit, but at least they could see it's not such an outlandish thing to do.. and that if one makes a fool out of oneself, at least it's in good company ;)


By the way, I'm currently trying, and failing, to visualize this cowboy drag queen Rodeo. It sounds like it could be fun, with an appropriate audience.. The costumes seem to have a "style" all of their own. (And to think I was a bit embarrassed to appear in a show in a folk skirt and a leather jacket.. ) I hope it goes well!



- Sanna

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I agree it's too bad some people are afraid to try something they might find enjoyable and beneficial. I asked my husband to join the class because I know he likes to watch ballet (well, in truth, he just likes looking at women, all women...but I digress) and also because he's very strong and I wanted him to become more involved in partnering with me other than what he does now which is basically act as a support pole. But he said no, and I asked why and he said he has no interest in doing ballet, just watching it. Now this type of attitude I can understand, he is great because he accepts the fact that I want to do this, and doesn't make any noise about it. It's those people that make fun or even criticize of others that do attend and participate in any form of dance class that I find difficult to tolerate. Now about the rodeo costume. I can completely understand you having a difficult time visualizing the costume, it is nothing I would have ever thought of. Our teacher was born and raised in Budapest, but came to the States in 1944. So, you'd think she would have a little better understanding of what this will look like, but no. Now, my youngest child (age 25) works in San Francisco, California, and when I told him about this part of the production, there was a moment of silence and then he said., "well, that would go over really well here, and in fact, I might tell some people I know about it, but I don't think anyone where you are will understand exactly what they are looking". I agree. I just hope no one brings a web cam! :)

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I've been taking classes for years- my fiance has gone to the Richmond Intensive with me as moral support, and now wants to do it, so he has just started taking beginner classses. All my ballet friends think it is great, but when he tells his other friends and relatives they just giggle. At the moment he works as a carpet measurer and one day he was measuring a floor and there were 2 little girls there practicing ballet. One was an older sister who was teaching the youger one.My fiance could hear them and see them and at one pointe he blurted out " You have to turn out from the hips". The girls stared at him in shock and finally one of them said"How do YOU know" and he said he took ballet classes and then she said "WHY"? Which seems to be the reaction when a guy takes classes.

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He should answer "where else can you get the best source of exercise and be surrounded by beautiful women at the same time?" And if he's talking to older guys he can add something about being able to hold these beautiful women by their, well, you get the drift.

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I know that often mentioned "reason" for males doing ballet is meant as a joke, but personally I still don't like it. The reason to dance is, or should, be the fact that you want to dance. The mere suggestion that some one would be in the dance class to oggle me makes me feel uncomfortable - even as a joke. It also sort of trivializes the male dancers love for dance...


Sorry for being such a prig. :)


(When some one asks me why I take dance classes, I just look at them like they were half-wits and say: "cause I like to dance, of course". I mean, what kind of a question is that, anyway? Do they perhaps think that while I'm 30 years old, my Mom still makes me?)

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That's okay Jaana, I didn't mean the male person would be oggling, per se, just enjoying the total environment, and appreciating being with beauty instead of on a field of sweaty men. It's a ambiance thing. As for the partnering thing, it would be a matter of comparing partnering in ballet to wrestling? Guess it's all in the eye of the beholder. I know my husband simply enjoys being around women. I questioned this when we were first married, as I suppose most new brides would do (plus I was all of 19 years of age, it was a long, long time ago, when the earth was flat), and my hubby told me that because he's a mechanic, and surrounded all day by grease and guys, he really appreciates all women, either because of the way they look, smell, or simply their behavior (i.e., they usually don't scratch, swear, or spit, you know the three "S" words we're not allowed to do). This is why I was so surprised he didn't want to take class. But he said he had no desire to dance in a ballet style. However, he still makes a great support pole, and as I learn more about pas de deux, I'm teaching him. Perhaps one day he will change his mind, who knows.

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Sorry to go on so long, but your answer is the point of this thread, why does anyone have to qualify why he/she takes ballet class? If you tell someone you're in a baseball league, bowling league, tennis club, etc, no one would ask why? So, why do they ask us?

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One of the reasons why I (and I suppose others, too) keep on coming back to this forum all the time is the fact that it's one of the very few places where no one asks "why" (not in a bad sense, anyway - I seem to recall a thread about how everyone started dancing :)) or assumes that if you do dance as an adult it must be only because you want stay thin, or some such nonsense.


Most of the adult dancers here take their recreation very seriously; this bunch is way more dedicated and knowledgable than many of the people I take classes with. I wonder if it is more because this board draws such people, or because we grow dedicated because of the information and encouragement we find here? In any case, it's a wonderful thing.

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I don't much advertise the fact that I dance either, but the subject inevitably always comes up because with 5 ballet classes and many supplementary activities each week I manage to conflict with just about every social occasion possible. I always choose ballet, of course. :)


I must say I haven't felt like people find ballet as a hobby stupid or ridiculous in any way - just a weird and very unusual thing to do, especially if one hasn't started as a 3-year old. But then, my social intuition has been known to be very selective. :)


I actually have a moderately funny story to tell about how difficult people find the consept of recreational adult ballet.


I was away in class, while my boyfriend was at some social occasion. (A party or possibly a movie evening, I think.) The hostess naturally enquired after me, and my boyfried told her I was dancing ballet again. I've been away before for the same reason. Somehow, somewhere, without never actually asking, she had gotten the misconception that I was employed at the Opera, :eek: and this mistake was now finally revealed when she timidly asked my boyfried wheter I'd be able to get her and her husband some tickets with a reduced price. :)


(I'm editing this to add, that people seem to find dedication more unusual than ballet as a hobby. They think that if they do a hobby - any hobby - three times a week except when they are working late, visiting their family, going to a party, need to clean the house, go to a movie with friends, attend an association meeting or have a barbecue, it is a lot.)



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