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religion issues in Ballet class


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Hey everyone.


Last week, I was asked by my Teacher, who is also the studio owner, to STOP wearing tights for class (of any kind - both opaque and stalking type). The reason: I have a semi-religious (Israel, remember?) girl in class - and she's uncomfortable with the sight of a man in tights. She also told me that several other religious girls were intrested in taking class - and when they heard there was a guy (me) in it - they give up. I'm quite furious with that request, considering a few facts:


first of all, tights always have been, always will be the "uniform" of ballet. they are here for a perpose.

second, these religious girls (and parents! I was also asked to stop wearing tights for a complete scholar class - because of the parents!! ), will never practice Ballet as a preforming art on stage. The jewish religion forbids women to dance (or preform at all) in front of a mixed crowd - as dancing considered as a seduction.


They only take this class as a form of fitness excercise (BTW, this is a new trend in Israel: Ballet as an aerobics class - I find it offensive, as it degrades the art).

I for myself consider it as an art. I think I should be the favored one here.


I have much respect for my country's religion - but I'm enraged with it.


I'm sure you'll have comments.




Edited by nivli
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I agree with you actually. Those girls came in later. And they choose to go to ballet, so they could've expected there would be a guy/guys in it, right?

It's not your fault they're uncomfortable with seeing you in (normal!) balletclothes.

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Knock knock, mom of a ballet student here. My daughter has danced with two very religious Jewish girls, and a muslim girl too. None of those girls will choose to dance professionally, but all three knew that boys/men in tights were part of ballet going in. When discomfort was expressed, the teacher just informed them that in ballet ALL students wear form fitting clothes so that the teacher can see and correct any body placement errors. Perhaps, in recognition of their lack of knowledge about ballet wear, you could cover the tights for the first class or two with cropped pants, and then segue into taking off the cropped pants for center, and then finally into taking class all the way through in tights?

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Those seem like reasonable ways to think and to take action. You need to be in a school where the teacher stands up for the art, and won't knuckle under to outside pressure of whatever sort.

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Thanks for the support guys,


dance1soccer1 is reasonable enough, but here is the thing: the demand only came AFTER a few classes in... I for myself kept wearing what I used to wear in former years...black/white tights and a white T or tight shirt.

question is: should I stand up or give up?


as for my personal feeling - this whole mess is against everything I believe in, both in Ballet and general life approach - live and let live.

but dance1soccer1, you certainly gave me a negotioation leverage facing my teacher for the matter.

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Based on information contained in your other posts, Niv, I'd find another school where they handle things in a more professional manner (which is largely a matter of attitude, as well as standards). Then I'd make the face-down: Either respect my rights as a male ballet dancer, or I take my business elsewhere. You may continue there if you like, as you seem to have established some kind of comfort level there, but in my opinion, you need a school that stands up for basic standards, and dress code is pretty basic.

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knock knock: religious jewish girl here


I think it is not the sight of a man in tights but a man in class in general which makes them get worried. Parents worry the girl might be exposed to male company which may lead to sexual intercourse without being married. That is what it all boils down to. The concept of "shomer negiah".

If it is a problem for them they should go and attend single sex classes- that is what I have done most of my dancing life.

Now as I matured more I do not care (even appreciate) a guy taking class with me. A guy taking class together with me does not disturb me- as I did not grow up religious- so I know how to cope with that and seeing a guy dancing with me does not give me any thoughts of sex- to be blunt. For them it is different- they automatically think of sexual relationships if they have a guy dancing with them.

Do not let it worry you- you have not done anything wrong.

It is their problem and not yours.

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My opinion: the fact this "teacher" allows someones religious views to dictate what happens in class means this person is not really a "teacher" but a baby-sitter. A real teacher should be interested in furthering their students abilities first and foremost. In an art form, the conventions of the art (in this case attire) should not be put aside if they're intergral to the pursuit of the art. How can the teacher correct you if you're layered under clothing? Then what's next, new students don't like the color of your eyes so you have to wear sunglasses? Please! Get real!


This guy is no longer teaching students of ballet. He's entertaining people who dabble in it. Find a new studio, one dedicated to nurturing talent.

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I'm not a religious expert, but....


Why would fundalmantalist jews allow their daughters to take a ballet class? Isn't there the possibility that a **MAN** (gasp) might see their daughters wearing practically nothing? Oh the scandal!


If these parents are truly observant, they would never allow their daughters to be seen in such provacative situations, heaven knows what it could lead to!


A major part of of any dance programme is partnering/pas de deux. Jewish and Muslim laws prevent touching between men and women. how would a religious Jew or Muslim ever dance at this level?



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No, we're not talking about fundamentalist Jews. We're just talking about orthodox Judaism. And not ULTRA-orthodox like Chasidim (the righteous ones). There are many degrees of observance, and shomer negiah (the way of following {the law of} touching) is just one kind of observance. There are all kinds of shomerim, including shomer shabbos (what Christians would call "the keeping of sabbath").


Among extremely observant religious of many faiths, there is a kind of "building a fence around the law". Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is forbidden, so men and women must never be in the same room together unless they are married, or closely related by blood. (Shahriah) Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is forbidden, so sexual intercourse INSIDE of marriage is forbidden. (Shakerism)


I must confess, though, that in some of the "sexier" pas de deux I've danced, I've thought about death, but never about sexual excitement!

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If one feels sexually aroused while dancing any type of ballet (class, rehearsal, performance, &c) one is not dancing properly--ballet is far too complicated to be performed correctly while thinking about anything else! Didn't Balanchine say something to that effect, too?

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I think it was something like, "If you start getting sexually excited during pas de deux, you're not paying proper attention to business!" Not exact, but something like that.

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well, I wanted to explain the religion thing, but mel actually did it better than me. good for you Mel!


I'm glad that this conjoured so many opinions.

According to Mel's and others recommendations, I actively started seeking a diffirent studio. Also, I'm trying to promote pa de deux lessons for myself - elsewhere.

A point I wanted to clarify for that matter - these girls, of course, don't even consider pa de deux work because of the "shomer negiah", Which by the way means in hebrew "keeps (no) touch", just as they don't consider preformance - both forbidden by jewish custom...


But your remarks regarding the "dangers" of developing an out of marriage relationship are precise.


Thanks again.


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I think this boils down to a matter of expectations. The religiously inclined girls (and parents) saw ballet as a "girl-only" zone, in which they could get single-sex dance training / phys ed. Your existence makes ballet co-ed. The teachers are more interested in maintaining a single-sex atmosphere than a co-ed atmosphere.


Without judging whether your view or their view is "right", I think you're right to move on and find another teacher.

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Guest dancer'sheart

Good luck in finding a really good studio. You have done nothing wrong. I have an Israeli friend who's ex-girlfriend is a ballerina. None of your concerns were is discussed in her studio. It was very professional. So there are good schools there. Sadly I don't know where her studio is and I've lost touch with my friend.


As ballet considered as aerobics...that is such a degrading thing for the art. Trully your teacher is not an artist or she would not allow pressure from parents about any attire. It is used all over the world!

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