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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Fear of talking


Thomas

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Redbookish

Again, Moderator Hat on (we women usually try to keep out of the Men's Forum¬†ūüėȬ† )

Here is an old thread on dance belts (yes, please wear one - for yourself and your classmates' sakes). Have a read, and then please feel free to start a new thread to ask for up to date information.

It's lovely to see the support & confidence for adult male ballet students - all strength to you!

 

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Redbookish

Hi folks! As we like to keep threads focused on specific topics, rather than becoming general chat, I've moved the posts on this thread about dance belts to a new topic "Dance Belts" in this forum, so we can keep the discussion in this thread focused on adult male ballet students talking to friends & family about learning ballet. Let's keep this thread focused on ideas for dealing with the gendered stereotypes we know you can sometimes face!

Dance Belts thread here: 

 

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StormTrouper

Regarding stereotypes, there’s no question that male-identifying individuals who exhibit feminine mannerisms or who are non-hetero (or both) can be found within the broad ranks of the ballet community (including artistic directors, choreographers, patrons and balletomanes).  While this is true of all human activities like sports, in the arts it can be easier to find acceptance when one’s gender identity is not heteronormative.  The academic literature suggests that non-heteronormative males are over represented disproportionately in ballet as compared to estimates of their natural occurence in the general population throughout human history.  It is tough to have hard, evidence-based research on the topic since surveys aren’t ethical or respecting of personal privacy regarding who you love (males or females or non-binary) nowadays in many countries.  The fact of human behavior is that it is not (always) possible to know accurately a person’s sexual orientation through visual clues alone.  Some effeminate men are straight and some straight presenting men are gay; you simply cannot tell a book from its cover.

Because men wearing tights performing on stage (especially in white, grey and light hued colors under bright stage lights) expose¬†their lower torso, both anteriorally and posterially, so their line and extension is obvious and unobscured, some non-dancing males can feel¬†embarrassed or uncomfortable about such an overtly,¬†immodest and anatomy-revealing¬†appearance or display ‚Äėdown there‚Äô front and back, especially I suppose if they feel inadequate themselves. ¬†(In the USA,¬†it is the same puritanical objection and detestation for¬†swim¬†suits for male swimmers, divers and water polo players in the cut and style of¬†Speedo¬†briefs;¬†but much less so in Australia, where Speedo was started, and in Europe. ¬†So it‚Äôs¬†an attitudinal¬†hangup for many (conservative) ‚Äėmericans when confronted with tights-covered outlines of groins and butts.)

Then there is homophobia with the¬†associated bullying, as experienced by many young male students especially in conservative communities but less so in cosmopolitan places like NYC for example. ¬†Small-minded folks lacking worldly knowledge haven‚Äôt had the benefits of good education so can harbor narrow, distorted views and ignorance-based prejudices, some not all. ¬†So it can be quite¬†natural I think to be reserved and concerned about whom you reveal your love of ballet dancing to, especially if you are still in your twenties. ¬†You are bound to gain confidence as you mature and learn more about the ways of the world in your country and region of birth, and beyond. ¬†So there is hope to be positive about. ¬†Coming to this forum is a supportive step¬†towards liberation and freedom from social tyranny, which is what you are learning to confront and¬†mentally process and behaviorally deal and contend with¬†as you pursue ‚Äėunmanly‚Äô ballet LOL, the sole male in a culturally female¬†space,¬†at the amateur level, generally speaking.

Some male dancers feel more confident about talking about their interest in practicing ballet to their friends, families and associates. ¬†Others prefer to remain¬†closeted out of fear. ¬†It depends how conservative or progressive the¬†community where you live is.¬† ¬†This and other forums is a good outlet for connecting with like-minded male ballet practitioners, people who won‚Äôt judge you and who will support and bolster your like-mindedness for this art form which demands fitness and physical prowess. ¬†I don‚Äôt see ballet as an athletic sport, but rather as a creative movement style. ¬†Mankind has always danced. ¬†Unfortunately men doing ballet carries stigmatic attributes for men and women who lack insight and perspective into the art form or who are homophobic and prejudice. ¬†(Now one can begin to understand why racism and discrimination are antihuman, being bullied and disrespected... merely for personal choices in a free society for recreational pursuits¬†and articles of clothing, which is, as the British would say,¬†‚Äėtotally rubbish‚Äô¬†ūüėȬ†)

Angel Corella, Variation from Don Q

As far as ballet dance wear (clothing for dance we call dance wear, usually stretchy and most of the time form fitting) you are in good company because two major brands of athletic wear offer items that look sporty, are marketed for male athletes and are fabulous in the (dance / ballet) studio.  The bonus is that you can talk about this as if you were into athletics (a jock).  Heck you can wear them right on the street for cycling and for running even.  (Ask Mr. Google about athleisure looks or athleisure wear.) Again I don’t consider ballet to be a sport even though there be sport-like aspects, such as competitions with medals and trophies.  (This is a somewhat American view, trophies, mostly.)

Under Armour - sells stretchy T -shirts in three formats in the usual range of sizes: Normal (baggy and loose), Fitted (streamlined) and Skin Tight (self explanatory). (I may have the precise terms incorrect, but the concept is real.). A leo top is generally skin tight, so you can purchase a white top that fits just like a men’s leotard.  The only difference is that it is not joined to underwear so the shirt has to be retucked.  Sometimes Nike offers tight fitting spandex white shirts.

Both UA and Nike offer black leggings, sometimes in heather grey; white too. ¬†Get full length not three quarter down to your ankles. ¬†To cover your ankles, wear close fitting white ankle socks with white ballet shoes. ¬†When you point your toes, the foot-ankle look continuous so you can show what is called your line (silhouette). ¬†Again you can talk about wearing your¬†‚Äėrunners tights‚Äô. In ballet, tights often implies ‚Äėfooted‚Äô tights. ¬†For women they are see through pink or white, but for guys ballet tights are heavier and opaque (so your glutes are well covered) and worn on the OUTSIDE of leo bottoms or over a¬†tucked-in tight white¬†shirt. (Women wear their leo over their tights.)

Even though dance belts come under clothing, Wear Moi of France with a store in Chicago produces a shirt joined to a beige, thong back dance belt for men (and boys).  The shirt is available in a couple of styles (zipped high collar; t-shirt).  So you can talk about your white shirt for dance, and not have to mention that it just happens to be attached to a dance belt.

Grey tights (both footed and leggings) for ballet boys have been preferred in France traditionally. ¬†Black however is far more common and ‚Äėconservative‚Äô looking in North America. ¬†Google National Ballet School of Canada for their uniform. ¬†In the UK, the older you are in academies, the darker are your tights and unitard, where each level (grade) of student wears a different colour and the youngest boys wear toght fitting shorts similar to cyclying shorts but without the inner padding. ¬†Again, if you are knowledgable about ballet wear you can be open to talk about it with people.

Being only twenty years of age, you have the great benefit of the world wide web, youtube and online forums to draw knowledge, gain insights and acquire diverse perspectives¬†about dancing in ballet as a male. ¬†You are very fortunate in this respect to have the world‚Äôs accumulated knowledge in the palm of your hand (smartphone) ūüôā¬†

 

On 8/21/2020 at 12:37 PM, MattMan said:

Great Idea, DoubleTurn

 

Thomas‚Äô problem, as he presented, was that he would be the only person wearing ‚Äėserious‚Äô ballet wear in his class, the only one in tights. Removing coverups would result in the same thing... the only one wearing tights. Grey ones would be especially serious-looking as this color is never worn by athletes; whereas black and¬†navy blue are common¬†to being¬†worn¬†both in¬†sports and in dance studios. ¬†I would shy away from recommending grey, white, red, green and pale or bright colors if I didn‚Äôt want to stand out, and instead opt for a more conservative, conventional hue¬†such as black or blue.

 

On 8/24/2020 at 10:41 AM, Colman said:

Well, I'd go with laughing and pointing at them for being idiots, but I understand that's harder when you're younger, and don't have a wife and two kids and thirty years of martial arts practice when you start.

"Ballet dancers are effeminate/gay" is an idiotic stereotype (which was trotted out when my eldest son started it and quickly trotted right back in when I started shortly afterwards) has always been an idiotic stereotype and will continue to be an idiotic stereotype - just look at the number of straight couples dancing in top level companies. Why spending hours in rooms full of scantily clad women is supposed to make you gay I have never worked out - surely rugby would be more attractive to gay men? And even if it was true, so what? It's all very weird.

On clothes, I think I'd go with dance shorts (the ones that come to just above the knee, not the really short ones, unless that's what you want!), dance belt and t-shirt to start with - actually, that's what I normally dance in and pretty common here for male dancers outside of formal school classes - and you can work your way up to leotards and tights in more formal settings like workshops or intensives. 

So dashingly manly and macho to confront idiots... with violence (martial arts).  

Aren‚Äôt men ‚Äėscantily clad‚Äô¬†in a ballet class too? Or is there a double standard?
The notion that guys¬†must necessarily be heterosexual if they ‚Äėenjoy‚Äô spending hours¬†in a class with mostly females¬†is just as short of logical thought (another ‚Äėidiotic stereotype‚Äô, not to mention disrespectful of the ladies)¬†as the notion that gay men would necessarily be more attracted to all-male sports... because the underlying operative¬†assumption is that one‚Äôs participation is motivated by sexual attraction, which isn‚Äôt primarily why people of any gender¬†engage in sports or dance activities generally speaking. ¬†If gay men find more acceptance pursuing ballet, perhaps meeting other guys of a like-minded world view than they would playing all-male sports, then that might be a factor in preferring ballet over rugby, ¬†The point is, there are gay men both in rugby AND in ballet;¬†but in the former culture there is tons more homophobia... so gay sportsmen tend to remain closeted,¬†whereas gay ballet dancers tend to find more acceptance and tolerance within the artistic world.

The OP was wearing athletic shorts and wanted to shift to actual ballet wear, which is form fitting, solid colored footed tights or leggings (with socks).  Dance shorts (both short and long inseam) are an option but don’t give the same effect as for line for novice students; and they are generally the preferred uniform bottom piece for very young boys (from ages 6 - 10 years old or there abouts), older boys and teens being covered down to their ankles being customary.

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Johnny Simpatico

These discussions amuse me. In these cases, heterosexual men want to explore ballet, but their sexual identity is threatened by engaging in an activity largely practiced by females. The male then endlessly wrestles with ballet apparel and seeks out advice here, Reddit, and elsewhere about what to wear. Of course, red-blooded American men don't obsessively discuss apparel choices. It's females who typically take delight in discussing how clothes look.

Some part of me is thinking: "Be a man. Just put on the dance belt and tights and dance."

It takes some courage to enter the studio. It's mostly a female environment, especially those pink-painted studios that cater to little girls.

I look at it this way: There have been ... and still are ... many situations where women are the outsiders, but they are brave enough to endure the hazing, sexual predation, etc. that comes trying to penetrate a largely male environment. If they can do that, why can't I enjoy 90 minutes as a tiny minority in a dance studio ... incidentally, practicing an art that largely has strictly defined male and female roles?

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So, Thomas, its now been a few weeks.  Have you tried "exposing" your tights in class yet?  IF so, how did it go.  Once you get over that hump you will never go back.  Post an update for us.  Cheers.  M

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StormTrouper
On 9/28/2020 at 11:24 AM, MattMan said:

So, Thomas, its now been a few weeks.  Have you tried "exposing" your tights in class yet?  IF so, how did it go.  Once you get over that hump you will never go back.  Post an update for us.  Cheers.  M

it’s exposing the hump and standing out from the others dressed in conventional male dancewear that’s the hangup apparently.

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StormTrouper
On 9/27/2020 at 7:38 AM, Johnny Simpatico said:

These discussions amuse me. In these cases, heterosexual men want to explore ballet, but their sexual identity is threatened by engaging in an activity largely practiced by females.

I look at it this way: There have been ... and still are ... many situations where women are the outsiders, but they are brave enough to endure the hazing, sexual predation, etc. that comes trying to penetrate a largely male environment. If they can do that, why can't I enjoy 90 minutes as a tiny minority in a dance studio ... incidentally, practicing an art that largely has strictly defined male and female roles?

he wrote that he didn‚Äôt want to appear upitty by wearing academy-style outfits instead of sports wear like the others. ¬†he wanted his line to be more apparent. ¬†the analogy of¬†women penetrating male domains is a fair one. ¬†but the stigma for males in ‚Äėsissy‚Äô women‚Äôs activities is far higher than the converse, which is a reflection of misogyny, that women and their activities (such as how they dress) are devalued.

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Johnny Simpatico

I agree with you completely, StormTrouper. But we, adults in slightly more tolerant society (in many places), should be able to overcome that stigma.

 

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Yeah, good points both JSimp and Stormy. 

Even still, it seems in my small part of the world women have greater lee way to cross the line into the sphere of "masculine" behaviors than do men encroaching into the feminine realms.  Is doing something feminine less worthy than something masculine?  Is it some innate territorial boundary?  Why are expectations so flexible for females and rigid for males?  Who sez girls get to have all the fun!   

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StormTrouper
On 9/30/2020 at 4:43 PM, MattMan said:

>women have greater leeway to cross the line into the sphere of "masculine" behaviors than do men encroaching into the feminine realms..
> Is doing something feminine less worthy than something masculine?  Is it some innate territorial boundary? 

> Why are expectations so flexible for females and rigid for males?  

> Who sez girls get to have all the fun!   

Well, now that you have asked...

if you follow gender studies and feminist academic analyses and social justice issues, one answer (rhetoric) could be: toxic masculinity, which has historical roots (where females are considered chattel assets owned by males... in some societies today this is still the prevailing attitude even).  A lot of misogyny is derived from such thinking.  Homophobia can also fall under this too (absolutely nothing can be worse than a man behaving unmanly, that is acting womanly).  As each new generation of boys and young men is brought up in the world, they learn what their society values and dismisses.

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  • 2 weeks later...
StormTrouper

I hope that I am not breaching any forum standards by posting here a HuffPost LINK to a recent book release announcement (by the ABT) that is relevant to male dancers.  As duplicate posts are not desirable, there might be a better location for this post, since it could also relate to threads re: books about male ballet dance or to parents of boys training for dance and ballet or to the ABT’s youth outreach initiatives. So here goes:

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/boys-dance-ballet-picture-book-john-robert-allman_n_5f6be0f8c5b674713cc71dc5?ri18n=true 

James Whiteside is quoted towards the end of the piece, and his opinion relates to this thread concerning the discomfort that can arise for some related to conversations about male involvement in ballet in 2020.

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