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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Height and men in ballet


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Hi everyone,

I'm a 16 year old boy and for a few months now I have had the constant question on my mind "Will I be tall enough to dance at a professional level?" Currently I am 5'5 and this issue has literally consumed me, its all I think about when I dance and has become a huge distraction. This past summer was my first summer intensive and lets just say that I wasn't the tallest boy there, but surprisingly I was not the shortest either. I've even gone to see my doctor and gotten x-rays to examine my bones to see how much more I will grow. My results indicated that my final height will be 5'8 or 5'7.


I've read people's posts here saying that they may be TOO tall to dance, and I must say that I am so jealous. I mean, its better to be safe than sorry right? I can't explain how badly I wish I could be 6 foot. Basically, what is the shortest a male dancer could be in your opinion? Is there hope for someone who is 5'7? I know that men that are shorter are less likely to do a pas de deux and should then have really good technique.



I would really appreciate your thoughts on this whole subject/situation. Thanks (:

Edited by jdancer13
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You are not too short. Many companies have a wide range of heights. I would try to stop letting something that you can not control consume you like this (I know, easier said than done). I am 5'6". I didn't have a brilliant career...but I did dance, received my paychecks, did better than a lot of my taller friends, and I never once thought about how short I was. There will certainly be auditions that will say things like " 5'9" and over " in their casting notices...and well...you won't get those jobs. BUT there are others that you will get. Baryshnikov is 5'6".

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Thank you for your help, you have given me a lot more self assurance.

Its nice to hear from someone who has experienced this first hand.

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I'm barely 5'8".... had a great career!


There were plenty of times that I was not the only male my height. In fact, most of the time there were at least 4 of us who within +/- 1" of each other.


Yes, as a shorter male you will be relied upon for the soloist styled roles which require nice technique: high jumps, lots of turns, lots of beats, etc. These roles are not out of the realm of regular technique at a professional level; if you are at a professional level in your technique, you'll be fine.


It is a challenge to do pas de deux as a shorter male - but NOT impossible. I learned to partner with a girl who was 5'5"ish. We had to modify some things (finger turns for example), but learning those modifications only made me a better partner for the future. I like to think that partnering is one of my most valued skills - it is actually something I'm known for and am paid to coach.


I will also admit, unlike Willimus, I am very self-conscience about my height. I've more than made up for it in personality. I talk big, walk big, dance big, and teach big. There was a point in time where I was the 3rd shortest male in the company and called "Big Boy." When I make fun of my height while I'm teaching, I usually get odd looks..... I don't think that my dancers realize I'm 'short' until I point it out (by standing next to a tall lady).


You'll be fine!

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Thank you GTLS (:

I appreciate how in depth you were with your answer. I've been thinking about your response throughout this week and its really been giving me more assurance. I too would consider myself to have an outgoing personality but now I want to bring it out in my dancing. Thanks again (:

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Most of the time when you hear people on this site discussing height and issues with a professional career, it is a discussion about women's heights where there appear to be more "caps" put on hiring practices.

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I was talking to a professional dancer last week, he does a range of styles/types including ballet, he is just a little over 5' 7" , said if you are determined and work hard to prefect, then height is not always an issue, can be but if you have good technique, many see that as more important

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  • 1 month later...

When I read this, I immediately thought of Mikhail Baryshnikov. His amazing career is proof that talent, not physical stature, is what matters most. If the technique is there, you'll go far, so just continue your hard work and don't fret about it.

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I'm so glad I could help, jdancer13! The only way to become the "best possible you" is to focus your efforts on the things you can change and forget about the things you can't change. That adage applies both to ballet and to life in general!


I wish you much success!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am about to be 14 and I'm only 5 feet tall. All the girls are a head taller than me when they are on pointe. I don't know if I'll ever be tall enough to partner. My pediatrician say's I'll be 5'6" most likely. I hope that will work. I know Baryshnikov was 5'6" so mayber there's hope for me!

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Honestly I still sometimes worry about my height (Im 16 and 5'5) which is pretty short compared to most guys. But when you start focusing more on your dancing rather than your height you will feel a lot happier.

This past weekend I auditioned for a major ballet company's summer intensive and since I just turned 16 I was placed in the 16-18 age group (which scared me), and mind you every other guy in the audition was 18! The worst part of it all was also that all the other boys were at least 5'11 so I stood out due to my tiny appearance. Now when the audition started I realized that height wont really matter if I get in or not. Whats going to matter is how good my technique is. So I just let all my worries go and focused just on having fun in the audition.And what ended up happening was that I did fairly well for myself. For example, during adagio and jumps my legs were the highest and "longest" which I was beyond happy about. Not to mention it probably looked funny to the adjudicators to see this tiny 5'5 boy with higher extensions than the 6'0 boy right next to him. I have yet to hear back from the program, but whatever the outcome Im positive height has NOTHING to do with the results.

Before the audition I felt so worried but now Im so happy for being the height I am. Would I like to grow a couple more inches? YES. But if I dont will it be the end of me? Nope. Just trust me and focus on your technique and being the best you can be. I think as shorter male dancers what we lack in height is what we need to make up in technique/artistry.

If you want to talk more feel free to message me (:

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