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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Auditions: Dreadlocks....


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I had dreadlocks a few years ago, but at the time I wasn't dancing.

I really liked how they framed my face and I feel like I'm too OCD for most "normal" haircuts, as one little wisp will get out of place and bug me all day, whereas with dreads, the whole hairdo is so much bigger that I can't find fault with it.


So, I'm wondering.... how do AD's take to dancers that have them?

I'm thinking about trying out for some companies next year and I want to make sure it won't interfere with my chances of dancing in a company, should I decide to go back to my old hairstyle.


Does it just depend on the director's personal preference?

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If you are auditioning for ballet companies, I would say you should not put the dreadlocks back in because I don't think you would be able to get the classical bun look with them in. Even if you are auditioning for a modern/contemporary company, IMO the dreadlocks would be a negative because the director is always going to want a certain look for each performance and the dreadlocks would always cause a complication.

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I agree with twinkletoez. You could just wait until you get into a company and then ask for permission from the management, but I wouldn't have them now when you're trying to get accepted.

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I don't think it's a good idea, either, Ginnia.

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the roles you will be in a typical classical ballet company will be from the 16th through 21st centuries. Dreadlocks are modern contemporary hairstyle. You can't do Swan Lake or Nutcracker with Dreadlocks.


Corps dancers are expected to have hair that can be placed in a bun. that means long straight hair. Wigs are used for costume character parts.


Unless your technique is stellar and beyond compare to any other auditioning dancers, you will be quickly weeded out. :P


The question you must ask yourself: Do you want cool hair, or do you wanna dance ballet?




Sorry to burst your bubble

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Sometimes we dig too deep. Let's be clear on the issue here. The issue is auditioning for a company where someone elses judgement call of you may or may not contain a predisposition to the idea of dreads and limit a job if they have such a pre-disposition. Let's also be clear that the original poster is discussing dreads specifically and not braids or curly hair or even straight hair. It is an ancient notion that only those with "long, straight hair" can dance classical ballet.


So getting back to the original question. We also need to note, that the original poster is female. In this instance, one can actually find dancers with dreads in classical ballet in the US. The ones I know of are male and can get away with it a bit easier because short dreads (twists/tips) to appear like a short afro on stage rather than on a female who may or may not be able to do a tight, flat classical bun with them. But again, the issue is auditioning!


No one should read a thread about dreads and think the same pre-dispositions are about curly hair or that one's hair needs to be straight for classical ballet. Even natural hair on an ethnic dancer and dreads are two different things when dealing with auditioning. However, we also must remember that dreads are not fad to everyone. Nor are they modern and contemporary to all.


Since the original poster would be new to a company and is likely auditioning for corp (or apprentice, etc), she just needs to remember that an AD will be looking at you to see if you fit in with his corp. And they may or may not be willing to think past the visual image in front of them. Since you don't know what the image they want is and what their pre-dispositions are. Hedge your bets on having the AD thinking about nothing but your dancing during your audition.

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No problem Coco. I wasn't moderating your post alone. You were on target but we still needed to merge back into the original topic just the same! One certainly does not have to have long, flowy straight hair to dance ballet. Not only does the idea that having "long, straight hair" rule out dancers of many ethnicities. It rules out the choice that many Caucasian dancers have made to have shorter hair and dance ballet and is from a pretty outdated school of thought especially with so many companies using the french twist as the stage look for their dancers. A french twist look can be achieved with little hair. DD, as an example, has chin length hair and it works just fine for both a small bun and french twist. Same for several of the dancers we know of all ethnicities. When a bigger bun is called for, it's as simple as a trek to the store.

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I would also think it makes a difference if we are talking about thick "natural" dreads, or the the tiny highly maintained dreadlocks. I've seen tiny dreadlocks pulled into a very tidy bun that would easily blend into a corps. Thicker dreads - not so much. Also, I'm assuming we are discussing dreads on African American dancers. While I've seen some stunningly beautiful dreadlocks on white girls, it would be a real stretch to imagine them dancing (classical) ballet - modern maybe.

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I would also think it makes a difference if we are talking about thick "natural" dreads, or the the tiny highly maintained dreadlocks. I've seen tiny dreadlocks pulled into a very tidy bun that would easily blend into a corps. Thicker dreads - not so much. Also, I'm assuming we are discussing dreads on African American dancers. While I've seen some stunningly beautiful dreadlocks on white girls, it would be a real stretch to imagine them dancing (classical) ballet - modern maybe.


If I did get them they would be smaller and thin, probably no more than 1/4" thick. I'm a caucasian female, however.

I was able to get them into a bun last time, but it was significantly fuller looking, of course.

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Ginnia--at this point I believe you have to just do what you are most comfortable with not only for your appearance but also for the question itself. And by comfortable, I mean mentally. The key to your auditioning well is your ability to be calm, relaxed and confident so that you can perform to the best of your ability and feel confident that if the AD doesn't choose you, you've done all within your power at that given time so that you do not second guess any decisions you've made.


We cannot answer that question for you in terms of hairstyle and if you're more confident one way or another. If it were me, my confidence might be shaken (head games) if I attended an audition with anything other than confidence that how I looked (within my ability to control that) was not an issue in regards to my performance. You can't get in the ADs head and we all wish things like hair style, etc would be a moot point in regards to one's dancing. However, we can't get in each ADs head. All we/you can do is go into your auditions with the type of confidence you need and so that at the end of the day when there is good news or not so good news, you're ok with the end result. Dancers play all sort of head games with themselves: "if only I'd worn my other leo", "if only I wore other shoes", "if only I had projected more", "if only I had landed those pirouettes". You may or may not be the type of person who would add to that "if only I had not had dreads". Some people would play that head game and others not. Do what will make you most feel when you walk out the door that it's been successful in your own eyes even if a job doesn't come from it! But understand why this is even an issue when making your decision and seeing if you're confident and comfortable even after that.

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  • 8 years later...

I know this topic is like 8 years old but just in case someone stumbles upon this thread like I did-

1- they are locs. Not dreadlocks 

2- if you’ve had your locs for a few years and they have grown in length you can put it in a bun or an updo like any other type of hair. 

3- if your locs are not ponytail length yet there’s always wigs and/or weaves.

4- if you’re Caucasian or another race other than black, with locs- I Don’t know much about how you matain your locs. The style is originaly for black people and their hair texture. 

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  • 1 month later...

This has been an enlightening conversation although a bit discouraging. My 6 year old daughter has locs. She is in her third year of dancing and she absolutely loves it! I am typically able to get her hain in a nice neat bun for recitals. I just hate to think of her hair affecting her ability to have certain opportunities as she gets older if that is what she chooses to do. Her hair texture ia very thick and even when I would do ponytails really well it would frizz up by the end of a performance, so the locs work much better for maintenance with her anyways. Maybe I am making to big of a deal out of nothing. She has awhile to decide what she wants to do with he dancing and her hair.

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Completely agree with Www and yes it may be very discouraging Girlmom. My DD is 11. We only do protective styles. Once I allowed her to get it straightened for recital. Horrible idea. It completely damaged her hair & took a year to correct. A helpful mom showed me some products & larger buns that could be used while keeping her hair natural. When she's older she'll probably have to make additional changes but for now, I decided againgst it since her reasoning was basically about conforming to fit in.

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