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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Attributes for male dancers


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I would like to start a discussion with the following question - Is it a prerequisite that today's male dancers be hyperextended in order to be successful [i.e., get trainee positions and eventually corps positions]?


There is much discussion of women with hyperextended legs (pros and cons)...I subscribe to the feeling that really hyperextended legs are not aesthetically pleasing (at least to me).


But for men....do company directors really look for this? I guess that goes for feet, too. I have seen male corps members in various companies who do not have banana feet (far from it)...yet with the other positive physical and artistic attributes, obviously are getting jobs.


Thanks for any input.

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No, hyperextension is not a prerequisite for male dancers. (While it can be a plus for females, it is also not a prerequisite.)


As for feet, they are important, very important, but they do not have to be banana feet. Actually, that would probably be a minus, as they tend to be weaker and sickle easily, especially in males who do not have as much rotation, generally speaking. The feet must point and the dancer must know how to use them really well. And they must also be strong. Some arch and instep is needed to do this, but it does not have to be extreme.

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh.


Perhaps it is that certain schools (or teachers) are putting an (undue) emphasis on the importance of hyperextension. It seems some students out there think a straight leg is no longer 'straight' (in today's ballet world) unless it's hyperextended.


Since student's psyches are so fragile oftentimes, I hate to think some are questioning their potential based, in part, on such a notion as this.

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My DS often comments that other men have better bodies, more flexibility, and are stronger than him. All of those things are helpful for a career in dance but hard work and determination are the most important prerequisite for anyone. Even without the perfect body for ballet my son has an apprentice contract at age 17.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My DS has very high arches (if this is what is meant by banana feet) naturally, as well as natural turnout. But absolutely NO hyperextension anywhere. Many teachers and ADs have said he has the 'perfect' ballet body.

If you are interested in what this looks like I can direct you to online photos from his school :)

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