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Ballet Talk for Dancers


Guest temple_dancer

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Guest temple_dancer

I went to an open ballet class today at this place I haven't been to for months. When I walked into the room, there were two girls, about my age (20 something) who looked me up and down with a rather appraising look before turning back to their warming up. I realise that I'm not someone who has anywhere near perfect dancer's body, but it sure feels intimidating to be 'sized-up' on first appearance. My dancing friends here in Oz have also mentioned having experienced the same thing at some stage. My friends and I have wondered why some dancers do that. Is it that dancers develop a superiority complex as dancers, or is it just competition through and through? Anyone have any opinion or theory to offer?

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Superiority complexes aren't manifested by behavior evidentiary of a superior attitude. That's for an inferiority complex. Superiority complex behavior includes a lot of apparent modesty, and also an almost mousy kind of quietness and subservience.

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No offense intended, but my first thought is that perhaps it is your perception that may be the problem rather than their “look.” Perhaps you were just a little overly sensitive? I’ve been in a few dance classes that almost had a feeling of a club rather than a class. The students knew each other reasonably well, they always went to that class, and few other students dropped in. In instances like that, I think it is natural to look over the new person. Not because of any feelings of superiority, competitiveness, or anything like that. But just because the person was new. Curiosity at work even if it comes off awkwardly.

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Guest temple_dancer

There have been other girls who have noticed this kind of behaviour before Gary, as I mentioned in my first post if you didn't notice. In other experiences that I've been told of by friends, it also happens at competitions and exams.


I can see fille'smom's point in that perhaps it's just natural competition and nothing to do with any kind of inferiority complex (correction noted Mel). I guess competition is something that is relatively pervasive in the ballet world, so possibly it's just more noticeable.

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it's just a fact of life, temple_dancer. try to pay no attention.


there are big fish and small fish in every pond...if those girls think they are big fish, it would only be in THAT pond! when they go somewhere else, the same will happen to THEM. you just have to NOT let it bother you.


it's like being the new kid in the schoolyard: people try to size each other up, in more or less obvious ways. it's human nature, but it's very rude to make it obvious. just focus on your work and yourself, not on them. :yes:

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I've been looked over in this way and I've caught myself checking new people out too. I reckon it's just natural. What's bad is when people keep staring in a bad way! But then you just have to ignore them and get on with it.

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I think fille'smom and garyecht are both on to something.


Women in many spheres tend to take a close look at one another and notice who's wearing what kind of shoes, clothes, and whatever. Dancers are even more keen observers.


Adult ballet classes, especially at higher levels and especially during the school year, do tend to have a certain number of regulars, or at least that's the way it is where I go. A newcomer is the object of some curiosity.


Anyway, temple_dancer, it's nothing to worry about and doesn't necessarily indicate a superiority complex, though it can be awkward. Your options are either to ignore it or to try to start a little conversation.

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I tend to find myself staring at dancers in class as well, and I guess it could be interpreted the wrong way. Ballet is so fascinating--there's all these little body-puzzles to be solved. I find it interesting to watch others' bodies, and try to figure out where thier strengths and weaknesses are, and how I can use that knowledge and apply it to myself.


Plus the other stuff that everyone's mentioned. I wouldn't take it personally. Give them a smile and a little nod maybe. It takes a while to get to know everyone since students don't tend to talk in ballet class. Now that I'm older and less shy(I was PAINFULLY insecure and awkward as a teenager), I'll just jump into any conversation while waiting around in the dressing room or warming up. People are usually OK once you start talking to them. Just have to break that initial barrier.

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Guest BBNButterscotch

I do that too. It's not because I'm tried to act superior or snobby, but I just want to see what kind of dancer the other students are, what I can learn from them, what I'm more advanced at, just out of interest. I also think dancers just to tend to be more CONFIDENT than the general public, and maybe sometimes that is mistaken for snobbishness. :wink:



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Guest MissInga

Please consider the age of the dancers; although you are the same age and choose NOT "size up" others, some people your age can't help themselves! Even us older ladies tend to do it by accident, often to do a quick comparison or to admire the younger ones or even to be snob, don't worry about it. Just worry about yourself!

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The talk about dancer’s “look” reminds me of something that happened to me a few years ago. A very famous dancer was at my school and quite frankly my initial impression was that she was really snooty. All I had to go on was her look as she moved about, however.


Turn’s out that I walked out of the studio just behind famous ballerina and overheard a conversation she was having with one of her friends. Her look hadn’t changed, but her conversation was what I would call that of a typical down to earth person, a contradiction of what I had assumed from just watching her.


I then realized that she had probably worked hard to achieve that look—neck lengthened, chin up, eyes focused slightly upward, very aristocratic. That’s how ballerinas are supposed to look.

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