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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Male Dancers and Height


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Hi. I'm new here so forgive me if this has been addressed in another post previously. My 16 year old son wants nothing more than to dance ion a company. He lives for dance, takes 7-8 classes a week in addition to rehearsals. He has done summer intensives for the past three years. He is about to begin audition season again, with 10 auditions planned for Jan. and Feb.


the issue is that he is 5'5". I don't know how much more he will grow. His twin sister has stopped growing at 5' even. How badly will this affect him and are there places that are better for shorter males than others? Where will his hiehgt most impede him? Thanks for any insight that you can give me.

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16 and 5'5"? I wouldn't worry about him stopping growing yet. Boys grow over a much longer time than girls do, and don't really stop until their early 20s. I grew an inch after I joined the Air Force when I was 21!


There's no hard and fast rule about which school or company will like him better, as long as he's technically clean and can handle the male vocabulary. I'd have to say that Albrecht in Giselle is probably out for him if he doesn't make it past 5'7", but there are a lot of parts that will be naturals for a less-than-tall man. And sometimes fate steps in and finds a small partner for such a cavalier. He WILL learn all sorts of things about partnering that taller dancers won't learn, and he can turn this to advantage.


So welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, and may you have plenty of questions! :rolleyes:

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Thank you for your kind words. As a matter of fact his height has helped him land a role out of state. A company is performing Coppelia and the female playing Swanilda is 4'9"" . So her artistic director asked ours if he could use my son to play Franz. But that is such an unlikely scenario to occur again.

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Knock knock, mom of a non-dancing boy - my brother graduated from high school at 18, and was 5'6"and bone thin. At 22 he was 6'3" and BUFF. Some boys keep growing forever! Also, my dancing daughter is 5'8", and her favorite partner at the studio is a boy who is 5'7". He can fish dive her, lift her, etc., and they dance together beautifully. So, sometimes partnering is a matter of working out the kinks, and not just height. Please don't let your dancing sons quit just because of height. Ballet needs boys!

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My brother-in-law was 5'6" when he graduated high school. He's over 6 feet tall now. I remember when he was 26, he pulled out a dress suit he hadn't worn since the previous summer. It was a good couple inches too small for him!


Many young men do keep on growing well into their 20's.

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While I know that boys will grow longer than girls, his birth mother was under 5" and his twin sister is 5" and stopped growing. I'll just hope for the best.

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We have a male instructor that is about 5'5" - I know he's shorter than my DS who is now 5'7" - and he danced professionally for over 12 years. Though his professional career was in Russia, he still does many roles with local regional companies - and he's very good. His partners are all taller than him but he manages to make it work, perhaps because he has the necessary strength to make the difficult lifts still look effortless. He also does a wonderful job of presenting the ballerina, so the focus is on her when it should be - kind of makes the height difference less obvious.

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"You never know..."


My husband and I are both short, without dancer proportions. BOTH our children have long legs, dancer bodies, and are taller than either of us. Our son is 5'10" and seems to be still growing (age 15). We look at each other and say, "It's a miracle!" For years, we joked that we would be the "Stub family," but the joke was on us! :thumbsup: You never know about those recessive genes, and the height your kids can actually attain! And, of course, height is not everything anyway, even for a dancer! :clapping:

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Thank you everyone for your encouraging words. I am not sure he will get much taller but I can still hope that he will be able to pursue his dream without being hindered by his height.

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[scratch, scratch, knock] How tall are/were Villella, Baryshnikov, Nagy, Bujones?

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Baryshnikov is short- perhaps 5'5??? I stood close to him but I've not officially met him so perhaps someone else here knows exactly.

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I've stood next to him at the barre, and he is about 5'7". I've also met Villella, and I think he was a little taller than I--perhaps 5'8", 5'9"?

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I've always thought of Baryshnikov as 5'6", having read it in several places over the last few decades. He addresses his height briefly in this Larry King interview from May 2002:


Larry King interviews Baryshnikov


KING: We're back with the great Baryshnikov.


Did you ever think you were too small?


BARYSHNIKOV: Yes, I was, and I still am.






KING: Height is still the same. Were dancers generally taller than you?


BARYSHNIKOV: For a classical premier, you know for the leading dancer, I was a bit small.


KING: But when we looked at Gene Kelly, he was short.


BARYSHNIKOV: (inaudible).


KING: Fred Astaire wasn't tall.


BARYSHNIKOV: Slim and long.


I don't think Eddie Villella is much taller than Baryshnikov. He was paired with Allegra Kent (who has stated that she thinks she is about 5'3" -- I "think" so, too, having met her on a few occasions) and especially Patty McBride, who is also around 5'3".


For just a few examples of shorter male success in ballet today, there's the amazingly versatile Julio Bocca and explosively lyrical Herman Cornejo (who is definitely 5'6") at ABT. At NYCB there are spitfire Joaquim de Luz and human spring Daniel Ulbright.

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Officially, Baryshnikov's stats are 5'7" and 145 pounds. No idea if that was before or after that Christmas fruitcake.

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