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Ballet Talk for Dancers

“Like a Haven: Not Work, Not Home!”


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I haven't read the paper yet -- I'll be at my office today so I can finally print off the 43 pages quickly -- but knowing a few sociologists and being interested in the field myself, I can say the word "deviant" is not intended as a negative or a slur, it's usually used to describe something not "ordinary" or commonly accepted.


As to masculine vs feminine, when learning partnering I was taught two rules: 1) the girls is always right, and 2) when in doubt, refer to rule #1. To me, this said plainly that ballet was about women, ergo, feminine.


I'll have more thoughts after I've read the piece.

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Guest pink tights

This is fascinating...thanks for posting this article.


I've received "ballet class, how cute" remarks from grown women wearing tennis outfits (all over town, not just on the court....) when asked what I do for exercise (and my job!)...I've always resented those snide remarks. :wub:

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How ironic. Can you imagine if we walked around outside of class wearing tights and leos and skirts and slippers or pointe shoes? People would think we were deranged. But the tennis players think it's normal to walk around in tennis duds. To a point, tennis clothes have been made to look like regular clothes, but then again, grown women in mini-skirts might be thought to be fighting a losing battle of looks with tweens and teens sporting the same length skirts.

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It's an interesting question of what constitutes "acceptable" street attire.


I bike to work and occasionally to other destinations and am always in the oh-so-unflattering padded lycra shorts and then top/jacket as appropriate for the weather. It does not seem odd to walk into my office this way (granted, others do too, at least in my area) and the gear wouldn't stop me from popping into the supermarket or post office. But in a leotard (I only wear camisoles/tank) on top, even with pants? No way, no how. It's odd.


All that said, the paper is quite interesting.

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It's in a PDF format, if that helps.

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Holly Golightly

citibob - thank you so much for posting this, I have just downloaded the article and will get back to it when I can print it out and read it on paper (probably in a couple of days). I think it'll be a precious reading for me (officially speaking I am primariarly into gender studies and secondarily a ballet student :clapping: ).


Just wanted to add my two cents in reply to a post - I can't remeber the user though:


When I was in the US this summer I was literarly stunned seeing non-pro, or people who had obviously never been pros, or teachers, taking ballet class at the age of 50 and so on! I thought it was just marvelous. This would basically never happen here in Italy. I have never come across a ballet class for adult (am I allowed to say "mature"?) beginners in my own country.


I am 25 and despite having been a student for so long I regard myself as a beginner because I just do it for love - and already at my age people ask me why I do it if I am not a pro. I am currently in a teens class, and one mum came to me on the first day and told me how depressing it must have been for me to have to comapre myself to people maybe 8 or 10 years younger than me. I thought that was plainly ridiculous. But I do remember young women in my school who stopped dancing because they were getting married or had kids; as I remember a woman and a man who took class for a couple of years that was sneered by her family for taking classes just for fun. And so happened to a male beginner aged 35. They are "ecouraged" to drop out. I imagine it is rather a widespread attitude then - but I wouldn't say in the US it is SO bad.


So I guess in this case the situation in the US is much better. At least there ARE classes you can go to even if you are 40, no matter the sneer of who's not into it.


I wonder if the popular image of ballet isn't just that of ballerinas. It is acceptable to, say, make an utter fool of yoruself at the tennis club because you are no Hewitt, but it is not acceptable to make a fool of yourself attempting a variation because you are not ms Herrera. I guess when you lose in a sport it is simply because "the other(s) is(are) stronger than yourself". In ballet, when you mess up, it's just "you" - and you look "clumsy". Many people I know wouldn't even try because they fear looking clumsy. But I am not sure if this can be a factor :flowers: .


Clothing. I suppose if I saw a professional walking out in her pointes I'd think she's gone bananas :clapping: anyway... personally I think that it depends on the specific attire. We would freak out if we saw someone going around in a diving suit. Whatever activity that requires an highly "specialized" attire undergoes the same "treatment", so I wouldn't say ballet is more discriminated that scubadiving, and so on.


What is happening in my country is that "dancers" clothing (erm... that is, certain kinds of pants, crossover jumpers, tops, and the like) have become very fashionable. Therefore - people who've never even attempted a step like to buy. Personally, I find this kind of trend rather odd, but what really bothers me are its consequences: dance shops have turned into clothing shops, "technical" objects like shoes, thighs etc are harder to find and have declined in choice (and sometimes in quality), and prices have risen.


Sorry this went a bit lenghty and off topic, but I just wanted to offer a tiny bit of "transatlantic" perspective!

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Since I studied ballet in a preprofessional school for eighteen years in my childhood and youth, it saddened me to "move on" with life, a "real" profession (nursing,) marriage, a child, and then divorcee status and remarriage. I had done a barre routine for many years and then finally stopped it in my mid-forties, when I went to graduate school.


I was delighted to see an article in my local paper about returning adult students--meaning middle-aged adults. So at the age of 53, I contacted one of the schools mentioned in the article, and went back to class, black leo, pink tights, hair in a bun, and all.


My son is in his early thirties and does not need me at home ready to cater to his every whim, my husband is frequently taken out of town on his job, and my job is stressful enough to seem to require some sort of physical outlet. So why NOT ballet, which is what I did the most so many years ago? It certainly engages my mind and spirit (as well as my muscles) far more than the awful aerobic classes at the local health club!


My adult class, which meets twice a week, is composed of 13-17 women ranging in age from late thirties to 74, and five men, ranging in age from late 20s to 58, a couple of whom are retired professional athletes. With the exception of two of the men, all of us had prior ballet experience.


I also take two classes a week of advanced ballet (with the teenagers.)


From what I read of the post, I too would consider the word "deviant" as referring to data lying outside of the generally encountered, and not implying what we used to refer to back in the sixties as a "value judgment."


In any case, the discipline, precision, and sheer athleticism of this art form help me maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body, in a culture where roughly thirty percent of the adult population is overweight and even more are stupefied by the constant bombardment of media drivel that flows into our living rooms. God willing, I intend to maintain this till I drop. And if the fellow denizens of any retirement home I may find myself in in the future have a difficult time with listening to my creaking joints snap their way through a grand allegro, so be it!

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This is not a specific response to the article, which I haven't read yet, but it seemed like a good place to share this anecdote which reflects many people's assumptions:


I was doing laundry last week, which for me is about half tights, leotards, and legwarmers, and half normal clothes. There was one older woman sitting on the bench behind me ruefully watching me drop tights after tights after tights into the machine. Finally, she sighed heavily, raised her eyes, and asked, "How many kids?"

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