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nudity in ballets???

Guest lurry

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Guest lurry

My dd SI chose not to take the dancers to Jacobs Pillow this year because the Montereal Ballet was performing, and they have some nudity in their ballets. They didn't say what, but they did say it would be inappropirate for them to take them.


I asked my DD coach, a soloist with the local Co., about nudity and she said "yes" some companies will have pieces that are a little more premiscious than others.

For example, she said Sylvi (sp?) just did a piece where she wore a see through shirt with no clothing under it. She said you could see more than just the out line of the body, you could see her chest. I have also read about g-string being worn. etc...


What do the dancers say if they feel uncomfortable about doing ballets like these, and what happens if the dancers refuses?


Also, parents what do you feel about this? and what will / would you say to your dd or ds about this kind of a situation? :D

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Everything depends on the general contract that a company has with the Union about whether the dancers can be expected to be made to appear nude or nearly so. In non-union companies, a lot more depends on the personal relationship that the choreographer forms with the dancers. If they believe in the work, they'll do it. If not, not.


Also, parents, if they're over 18, it's time to let go. They're making their own decisions now.

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I attended an Eifman ballet a couple of years ago-I can't recall the name...

My dd was with me and a couple of other young dancers/moms. (girls were about 11-12 at the time) We did not know that some of the scenes involved adult situations and partial nudity. The ballet was wonderful and the girls didn't say anything about the parts of the ballet that were adult in content. That was a personal experience of attending a ballet, but having my daughter dance in a ballet like that would depend on her and her artistic limits as an adult.

She's currently 14, so this isn't likely a situation she'd be approached with for a number of years. :D

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Major Mel,

What kind of wording would a contract contain that indicated this? Would it actually state nudity or would it be more broad, such as dancers have the right to refuse a part if it violates their religious views, or something like that?


Would this clause be a standard part of a union contract or is it something that a dancer negotiates when they sign a contract? I guess I always thought that such a request would be voluntary. Never thought that a dancer could be forced to dance in the nude or lose their job. :D

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Guest lurry

In addition to balletboosters question, how do you prepare a child for something like this. My DD 14, and evenythough it is a few years away, my dd should know and understand her options. This includes her contractual obligations.


A dancer can be passionate about her art, but she may also have a different moral standard than what may be expected of her. :D

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Very few ballet companies do things like that. The companies that do are contemporary companies, not classical companies. It is usually quite well known by the dancers what kinds of work the companies do, and they certainly should know that before even auditioning for such a company.


This kind of contractual clause is not the "normal" for ballet contracts. Where it might exist would only be in those very few companies that do works involving nudity or partial nudity. Netherlands Dance Theatre does works involving nudity. I am not familiar with the company from Montreal that you speak of, lurry. Do you know the exact name of the company? I don't believe Les Grand Ballets de Montreal does this kind of work.

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Before a dancer is hired by a Union company, the General Contract must be explained to him/her. If they don't like the possibility, they can look for a different job. The matter of working actually nude or not may be refinable in the Individual Contracts with the dancer. Or not. The wording is something like, "May be called upon to perform nude or demi-nude."*


In a non-union company, you can be terminated at any time, peremptorily.


It's a tough old world out there.


*Just went back into my files and found the 1975 Joffrey General Contract: "May be required to perform nude or demi-nude." We only had one ballet active then where there was any edge-pushing, "The Relativity of Icarus", and the dancers affected were two men, almost dressed in dance belts with some decoration on them.

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Dd is going to Jacob's Pillow this weekend with DanceLab. She turns 13 on Friday. I sent her a new outfit to wear on the outing for her birthday. In the birthday card I sent with it I jokingly called it her "birthday suit for her fieldtrip to Jacob's Pillow". She is young and a bit modest and shy. I think she will be quite shocked if someone comes out dancing in THEIR birthday suit... Think it's time to rethink the trip or at least have a little discussion about Art... Am I going overboard thinking about keeping her from going to the performance? What do other parents think?

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The program details for the upcoming performance of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal at Jacob's Pillow can be found here: Jacob's Pillow Festival. It does note that the "Program contains nudity" and I'm only guessing that it's in the Mats Ek piece. My daughter and I saw the Lyon Opera Ballet perform a couple of Mats Ek pieces, including one involving a few moments of darkly lit nudity. I don't recall if it's the same piece, but in the one we saw, the man and woman swapped their loose-fitting clothing and the lighting and positioning of their bodies was very discreet. I think my daughter was 14 at the time and neither of us found the scene to be disturbing in any way. In fact, I think that particular "pas de deux" was one of Ek's more pleasing and comprehensible pieces, as I found the theme of swapping gender roles to be very intriguing and watchable when expressed through dance in this way.


Personally, since my daughter has expressed a strong desire to be a professional dancer from the time she was in middle school, I felt that it was my job to expose her (no pun intended) to as wide a spectrum of concert dance and musical theater as possible (for the Midwest). Our experiences have been very valuable in stimulating discussion and helping my daughter get a clearer idea of what she wants to do with her career.

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Nudity in ballet would not bother me, and I do not mind if my almost 13 year old DD sees it either. My daughter has seen plenty of nude bodies in the dressing room, and as long as we're not talking male frontal nudity and it is tastefully done, I personally don't care.

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I remember taking our daughter with several friends to see Pilobilus a number of years ago for her birthday present. I'm guessing they were all about 10 or 11. There was frontal nudity for both a male and female - however, it's not as though we were in the first row. We were surprised, but it didn't cause any repercussions. It was a piece about WW II, Nazi occupation and prison camps. From our point of view, we we were more concerned about the "darkness" in the piece and wished we'd known ahead of time so we could have explained the background or chosen a different performance.


I think when one is involved in the arts one needs to be accustomed to seeing many different things. Nudity can have its place in art as a means of expression. Gratuitous nudity is another thing - and I'm sure there are some choreographers who might slide down this slippery slope but I don't think they'd be seen at Jacob's Pillow.


We all have differing levels of what makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes art is supposed to make us feel uncomfortable. If, however, you and your family have strong feelings about your children being exposed to this, I'd suggest calling the venue and speaking to the program director.

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I don't mean to sound flippant, but you can see more nudity on evening TV and done less tastefully than at any ballet performance. I am more concerned what my daughter watches on TV, when she has the time or desire than what she might see at the ballet.

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After I wrote the "birthday suit" comment I was worried that I was sounding flippant myself. Fortunately my three children keep the TV glued to Cartoon Network, Nickolodean and Disney Channel. Other than an occasional naked SpongeBob I can't recall any other nudity there. Just wanted to see what other parents thought. Think I'll speak to her about it ahead and let her know a little about what to expect. I appreciate Ballet Alert and the opportunity to get other parents points of view.

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This is what Les Grands Ballets Canadiens writes about their program on their website....


The company will be a central part of the event, with six performances and a program mix ranging from the introspective Solo for Two by Mats Ek to the sensual Without Words by Nacho Duato and the baroque comedy Six Dances by Jiří Kylián.


Are these the ballets you are familiar with, or anyone else out there?

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Like I said in another thread, if your dks ever get a chance to dance in Europe, they will get MUCH more nudity on tv there than on the stage, but yes, there is generally more nudity on stage than here in the states. As far as television goes, after 10pm, you can't even find a decent news channel! It seemed to be all nudity and sex!

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