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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Why do guys who don't dance ballet always make fun of it??


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Hi there!!


So I am a 14 years old and dance almost all kinds of Dance like ballet, broadway, tap, ballroom, hip hop, Jazz and a class that's more of gymnastics.



So this always kind of got on my nerves but why do guys who have never danced ballet before in there

Lives always make fun of ballet and the people who take it? And also why do those people always assume that all male dancers are Gay??!!


So how would you get those people to see how Awsome and beautiful and how benafitial ballet can be???



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I think all humans tend to think negatively of activities that are outside their experiential range. Teens are also very sensitive about fitting in and being part of a group. The ballet world is very small and not really part of popular culture. Put those all together and I don't think it's surprising that other guys give you a hard time about dancing. I'm not even sure that experiencing that negativity is necessarily a bad thing. I think it can toughen one's resolve. Often in adult life, whether in business or socially, you are going to run into people who think negatively about things you do. Think of your current situation as just a beginning experience.


The good thing is that these things will pass. The more you dance, the stronger becomes your attachment to others who dance, giving you a sense of belonging. By continuing to dance, you expose non-dancing friends and acquaintances to dance, broadening their experiential range and likely a more positive attitude toward you.


One final thing. Not all non-dancing guys think negatively about dance. You only hear from those who like giving you a hard time. In fact, I'll bet that some who give you a hard time only do so because they want to fit in with others.


Just be yourself and don't worry about others.

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Mel Johnson

Historically, there's an additional reason for the low status of male ballet dancers: Low pay! However, since the unionization of theatrical occupations, this factor has been going away, but vestiges of it still exist. We've got it on the run!


Another historical reason for the stigma suffered by male ballet dancers was the kind of roles created for them in the big 19th century ballets. 4+ hours of show, and only 2 or 3 solo dances for the men where we could strut our stuff, and tens of variations for the women. Fortunately, they don't make those shows anymore, Those which do exist have been seeing the interpolation of male technical dancing. Ballets made today have a much more varied catalogue of kinds of roles for the male ballet dancer, and not just making him only a carrier for the ballerina, or as a mime. Those roles are important, sure, but today's audiences want to see men who DANCE!


And let's get something off the table right now. It would be a strange theater of any sort which didn't have gay employees. But today's culture, especially teens, seem to be catching onto the idea that there are gay doctors, lawyers, teachers, business owners, police, firefighters, and even soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. "Gay" is losing its power to wound. Don't be stuck in yesterday, and don't give a bunch of yahoos a power over you which THEY DO NOT POSSESS, NOR SHOULD THEY!


Chin up! And don't let 'em grind ya down!!!

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Jeff Tabaco

As always I am impressed by and grateful for the advice and support on the men's board. Kudos.


People who make fun of ballet usually don't know how demanding it is. They think it's just flitting around the room, when in fact as we all know, it is tough! To the original poster, I know it can be hard to deal with teasing. You can either tell them that they should try it (instead of trashing about something they know nothing about), and/or ignore them knowing that you are part of an awesome athletic art form! :) Don't worry about them. They just don't appreciate it, and as Mel says, don't give them the power or satisfaction.


I wish I had started ballet as a teenager, but — and here's my "it gets better" moment — I will say that all my friends now (and even just acquaintances), when I tell them I take ballet, think it is awesome and want to know when they can see me dance. Best to you!



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  • 2 weeks later...

I always thought ballet was just an art and not athletic. Now Im realizing that its very athletic and has many benefits that enhance my other passions, bodybuilding and martial arts.

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Garyecht is right. I have many student come through my program that say they hate opera. My first questions is: "have you ever gone to an opera?" The answer is invariably no. How can you say you don't like something that you don't know anything about. I think this is true of ballet esp for men.


Ballet/dance, at least in the US, is not considered a manly profession. (Whatever that is.) As far as being gay is concerned, there was something published a while ago that mentioned that there are more gay men in American Football than ballet.

Yeah, I know it's pretty difficult at 14 to fight the tide. Stop worrying about it and just enjoy the physical exhilliration you get from dancing.

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Thanks for all the great advice. Ballet is such a big part of my life. I can't even imagine not dancing.

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Ballet/dance, at least in the US, is not considered a manly profession. (Whatever that is.) As far as being gay is concerned, there was something published a while ago that mentioned that there are more gay men in American Football than ballet.


Wonder where that statistic came from? Ballet dancers tend to be more open about sexual orientation than football players (sorry for a broad based claim based on common wisdom without statistical backup, which is kind of what I'm criticizing).

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  • 3 weeks later...


So how would you get those people to see how Awsome and beautiful and how benafitial ballet can be???


Tell them you're trying to be more like NBA forward Michael Beasley. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/nbas-michael-beasley-spen_n_1029138.html


You can also do a Google search for ballet and NFL... A number of players have pursued it in order to improve their art. As have all sorts of athletes ranging from hockey to soccer, to martial arts and boxing. I made a post about this over on the Crosstalk forum...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Unfortunately. it's the world that we live in. I was teased a lot when I was a teenager.


But I'm just as surprised sometimes by the reaction I get from friends when they find out I dance, although it's a different kind of teasing, although somewhat good natured.


But I don't think it's entirely based on the perception that if you're a guy and you dance, you must be gay. I think it's the perception in general, the thinking that ballet is flittering around as someone else said. Sometimes people can't get beyond the tutus, tiaras and stately prince image.


I have seen attitudes change when someone who has never been around ballet suddenly experience it. I've talked to several dance dads who end up as part of tech crews or drafted to be in the party scene. The first time I did Nutcracker, one of the dads commented to me that he was relieved that the guys who dance at our school seemed "normal." I could have been offended, but I took it as a compliment.


Most of the dads I know were carried kicking and screaming into the ballet world by daughters (and the occasional son). Most are blown away by the athleticism and discipline involved. And they were shocked to find out not every ballet performance is Swan Lake, and actually ended liking pieces, especially contemporary pieces.


Our company does a fall performance that is geared toward contemporary works and expanding the audience for ballet and I think that's also helped change some perceptions about ballet. But unless there is a huge cultural shift, I don't think I'll ever see a day when a male dancer isn't teased or made fun of for taking ballet.


It's something that those of us who continue to dance will have to live with. As an adult, I can deal with being kidded over something that has become a passion for me. But I feel for teenagers and younger boys who dance, because I know the teasing can be brutal sometimes.

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Just a note here, I've said this in the other thread (recently moved to cross talk). The number of gay men in ballet is similar to the number of gay women; what's unusual is the relative absence of straight men. It's not that way in every culture. Personally, I regret that I never even thought of it when I was young; I missed more than 40 years of delight and benefit.

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Remembering back to my teen years, I wonder if it is just part of the maturing/testosterone/developing thing of boys growing up. I grew up in a relatively enlightented school, one of my class-mates went on to join the corps of the Royal Ballet, and I was completely unsporty myself - but along with the others, I somehow looked down on things that werent muscular, tough, fast, strong - and flexibility or anything aesthetic was just for wimps.


Quite apart from the fact that ballet dancers are muscular, tough, fast and strong, what I have described is the picture of what is happening to the male body in adolescence - it is putting on muscle, and getting stronger and faster. Teenage boys have a focus of what is happening to themselves, and the journey - indeed adventure - that they are on, and want to make sure it happens properly. So not only do they have this focus, but the strong group-think of teenagers doesnt allow anyone to think differently. And also because they are discovering their sexuality, it is all a bit of a mystery, and anything that strays from the group-think is strongly discouraged too (this in other contexts is called "social learning"*), because they dont want that to "go wrong" either.


The answer? - as has been pointed out, a wider experience of the other things in life, so that they come to the realisation that these things will not upset the adventure that they are on.




*Added later.

Edited by jimpickles
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Hey Jim, that's a good point. But I was already (in my teens) a science geek; my one source of sanity was music (I was actually a pretty good cellist at the time) - and absolutely hated sports, whose main function seemed to be humiliation. Great candidate for ballet, but it never occurred to me or anyone else at the time. There's something else, deep in at least USA culture, blocking the men.


Among the young people I know today, I see a lot of progress. I am very hopeful, just sorry I missed it. And yes, I recognize that "a lot of progress" does not yet add up to "mainstream"!

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If anyone would like to read a memoir by the school friend I mentioned, who joined the Royal Ballet, the link is: http://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/2012/04/story-song/.


It is amazing, that someone who had such little experience of ballet could get on stage at Covent Garden as a member of the corps. Advantage of being a male - and very different times.


However, the main point of the story is about Marianne Faithfull (some of the older readers may remember who she is) who went to the next door school and was a mutual friend. A beautifully written evocation of adolescence.


Its not entirely off-topic, because it does describes some attitudes to teenage males doing ballet (and the "headmasters son" mentioned also became a ballet dancer).



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  • 8 years later...

I totally blame the ballet choreographers. They’ve only been interested in ballerinas. And I feel sorry for the men in ballet. It’s quite rare that male dancers look cool on stage while ballerinas look fabulous. I don’t know if it’s the style or the schooling or the teaching method or the simple fact the choreographers, past and present, have never bothered to make male dancers look cool. They jump and turn, and flutter their hands and move their arms very effeminately, burdened with awful balletic mannerisms, while ballerinas look graceful and beautiful and show very intricate, interesting steps with the added dimension of dancing in toe shoes.

Most of the time male dancers wear hideous consumes, too, like costumers can’t be bothered with how men look on stage. Frankly, men in tights don’t look aesthetically pleasing except, perhaps, to gay audience members. We don’t want to see the bulge between legs. We just don’t. 

Look, I know I sound ignorant but I’ve been watching ballet for twenty years and I am being honest at the risk of being non-PC. I can’t blame boys having no interest in ballet. Why would anyone be interested in something that goes out of its way to make them look uncool and insignificant? And why do far more boys go into hip hop? Hip hop dancing makes the dancing dudes look super cool. Ballet doesn’t.

I seriously think ballet choreographers should do something for male ballet dancers. To make them look good.

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