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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Can get the nerve to dance


Guest stm3654

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Guest stm3654

I am 27 years old. I don't have one ounce of rhytm or dancing ability but have always admired dance and ballet. I am extremely active, have run 10 marathons in the last 3 years, a cyclist, and working on doing a short triathlon next year.

 

I want to try dance for something a little different. Also a very important reason is the crosstraining, conditioning, stretching, etc. I would be getting. I took a yoga class at the gym once and it was just a bit too boring. So I really think dance would be a big benefit.

 

I have called around and think I found a school that would be good. Several begining classes and a male teacher. The problem is I can't get up the nerve to go to the school even to check it out and more importantly I am not able to tell my wife about it. We have been married a few years and have a 10 month old son. She has made a few jokes over the years about ballet in general that tells me how she would react. I know she would make fun of me.

 

Wearing tights isn't even the problem. A couple of the schools I called told me that I can wear what I want if I dance, like it would be a big deal to me. Between running, cycling, swimming I have spent the last several years in tights, spandex, speedos, etc. Nine months out of the year my legs are even shaved. I don't even care what I would have to wear to dance in.

 

I guess it is just the dancing. Of course I know she would make fun of the shoes, tights, and especially the dancebelt and I would probably feel a bit weird at first. But I think when you put all of them together with the stereotypical dance moves it is just viewed as gay.

 

I know dancing isn't gay, but the people I am surrounded by just think it is. I have seen two ballets and read alot and I admit that being "graceful" and alot of the movements seem a little fem. to me too but it doesn't really matter that much to me. I think that is how she feels about the whole thing. She had made comments that dancers and gymnasts are really strong but their movements and activities are on the other side. I guess I see that too in some of the moves. But I know that the workout would be great. The school I am interested in told me that the teacher has several different routines that he teaches at the same time and they are all different and since I am just doing this for fun it doesn't really matter.

 

I have thought about trying to find a way to take a few classes to see if I would stick to it before I tried to tell her, but I don't want to register at a school with the chance she would find out before I can tell her. I also just don't want to lie about it.

 

In the end I know 100% my wife would support me if I really wanted to and that she would keep it a secret from everyone else (they just wouldn't understand) but she already thinks I am a bit weird and don't really want to see the look on her face when I bring this up.

 

I just can't get the courage to go or tell anyone.

 

thanks for the ear

 

--steve--

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Guest Leigh Witchel

Hi Steve -

 

First off, welcome to Ballet Talk!

 

Everyone has a difference experience with their first classes, and a different attitude toward ballet. It's part of the community!

 

I hope you'll get up the nerve to take those first classes, and we'd be interested to hear how you felt and what you thought. There are two different forums here that are specifically about this, the Men's Forum you're on now, and also the Adult Ballet Students forum, which is Not for Guys Only.

 

It sounds like you don't want to be ridiculed for trying dance, and we all understand this. I didn't tell my family I was serious about dance for until I had been studying a few years. Why not go to one or two classes and see how you like it, how comfortable you feel, and if it's what you thought it would be? Then, you'll be in a better position to know if you need to have a larger discussion with your wife. Like you said, she'll come through in the end, (hey, she knew you were weird, but she married you!) but maybe it's better to see if this is something you want to just try out, or continue with -

 

You'll hear from other people (including a couple with wives of their own!) so good luck, and let us know about your first class!

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As a father of three and a dancer who met his wife in class, I hope you will try it out. At worst you take a class and wonder why you were so interested! At best you find a new form of exercise that also allows you a new form of expression. At my school we have several beginning male adult students of all shapes and sizes. They all enjoy it and continue to come back for more!

 

Leigh's advice is sound and I hope it gives you a path to class. Your wife is possibly not educated about dance (has see ever been to a ballet?) and is only showing the bias she learned growing up. I find that most everyone is intrigued by dance once one actually meets a dancer.....

 

Best of luck - Dance is great stuff and if you have the need, it is hard to supress.

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Steve:

 

You came to the right place to hash out this issue.

 

The hardest step in ballet is the one through the studio front door. Once you're inside, you'll find that dance students are there to learn, not cruise for sexual partners.

 

Dancing isn't straight or gay - it's just dancing! You probably didn't worry that your wife would question your masculinity when you started running in Lycra tights or donned a skimpy Speedo to swim laps, so why is trying ballet such a big deal? Frankly, it sounds like maybe YOU really believe in the old "dancers are gay" stereotype or walking into a dance studio wouldn't frighten you so much. If you are confident in your choice to start ballet, why would anyone else's opinion of its appropriateness matter?

 

While I would hope you are attracted to ballet for its beauty, grace, and tradition, your interest in ballet as cross-training for all your other athletic activities is valid. You won't believe how much flexibility and coordination you'll gain once you finally face your fears and get your butt into class.

 

Keep us posted on your progress.

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Steve-

 

Welcome, this is the place to be! It sounds like you are ready to give ballet a chance, i agree that the hardest thing with ballet is getting in the door. I did tap, jazz, and modern for 4 years before i ever had the courage to try ballet. The day i actually tried ballet was when i realized it was the profession i wanted. I am not saying you will have the same reaction but I am saying that, it does take a certain amount of "chuzpah." If you do start, just starting will make you a stronger person. Good Luck, and do keep us posted!

 

 

 

P.S. you'd be surprised how many people read but dont post, there are probably other readers in your shoes. Feel good knowing that you had the guts to bring it up, and that you are answering their questions as well.

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Steve:

 

Like you, I started late. It was a very difficult thing for me to admit at first, but as Barretalk says, walking into the studio the first day was the hardest part. From then on, the only problem I've had is handling some of the stuff my teacher throws at me.

 

I work in a very male dominated, sexist industry. It also happens to be an allegedly creative industry where one would think there would be little bias toward ballet, dance or the thought of gays working along side you. I decided not to keep my passion for dance a secret at work. It's funny how it catches people off guard. I get that momentary look where they seem to think, "Wow. Someone who actually does something creative." Then they tell me how great it is and, inevitably, they admit they wish they'd danced as a kid. I've encountered absolutely no problems because I'm so up front about it. Usually bias comes from lack of exposure or education. It's easy to fix that.

 

And, we are very lucky to live in Southern California withit's plethora of options for adult dance classes. I live in Los Angeles (Hollywood) and know where there's a class practically every hour of the day, Monday through Saturday. If you want to try it, this is the place.

 

As for your wife, she may be mirroring an attitude you unknowingly gave her the impression you share. My father made me think dance was wrong and I spent yearsw undoing that programming. I'd say talk to her. The most supportive person in my live has been my partner. Talk to her. I'm sure she'll understand. If nothing else, put the spin on it that you found out that it has some practical benefit for your other sports -- perhaps a friend told you. Say you'd like to investigate it to see if it works. Then instead of a secret desire, you make it sound like its a practical application to your other pursuits. Once you start, then you can hit her with they, "Hay, I like this" deal.

 

By the way, a lot of people I've found with biases against ballet simply don't understant it. After you know more, take her to a ballet one night and explain how difficult everything is. Then she might understand better. FYI, training for ballet is considered to be second only to football in terms of the rigors placed on the body.

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Steve, I am always glad to see more men and boys dancing. You just might fall quite in love with ballet.

 

I've attached an image to this post, one you can show your wife. I think every boy or man who wants to dance but is concerned about what other people think should show them this picture. It was the marketing photo for our Spring 2002 show. BTW, that is not me in the picture, but I did perform in that dance (with that costume).

 

jmbt_spring02_front.jpg

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I would agree with all the other posters. It is very hard to take that first step. Once you do so, you will find that ballet completely absorbs you and your self-consciousness will melt away.

 

I was secretive about taking ballet classes when I started and for all the usual reasons. But the wish to dance is so bound up with personal identity that you would be daft to suppress it. The more you explore ballet, the more you will find that your sense of mind and body is heightened. And you will find this so exciting that you will want to talk about it to others. Perhaps you cannot imagine that yet, but it is true.

 

Do it. Don't hold back. The more you do it, the more you will want to do it. My wife was fine about it: yours probably will be as well.

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It's actually funny to observe people's reactions when they find out you are a dancer! The most common is "you're kidding, right?", followed by "I took ballet as a kid, but ...", and "I always wanted to, but ..."

 

NOBODY has ever reacted negatively (at least not to my face).

 

 

Check out http://www.vix.com/menmag/jurek.htm

for an article that gives another man's perspective.

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Steve, much wisdom has been given by earlier posters. The only thing I have to add is that obviously you’ve faced a fear of failure before. I mean there was always a chance that you would have to drop out of a marathon or worse yet in my opinion, have to walk after those first 20 miles. If you have done any real serious cycling, I’m sure you’ve been dropped from a pack of fast riders or on a climb. You’ve faced those fears and conquered them. Deciding to start dancing is just one more thing.

 

With respect to your wife, give her a chance. My son always refers to me as “ballerina boy,” in jest. I don’t mind or pay much attention to it. I think some people give male dancers a hard time as something of a sport. But I also think that makes male dancers feel closer, in the same club so to speak. And it increases their resolve to go on with what they love to do. If your wife “tolerates” your current involvement in athletics, she will most likely come around to your dancing. She might even develop an interest herself.

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Guest stm3654

I appreciate everyone's good words. After reading all of them I can easily admit that I am afraid of the ridicule of taking dance. I am just surrounded by those who think ballet is gay.

 

I have made the decision that I am going to give it a shot!!

 

Several of the schools I have called have an adult class or two but don't seem easy to join. They just want me to show, try to dance, and follow along. To me that makes taking the first step even harder.

 

I think I found a school. I spoke briefly with the director on the phone today and she is going to have the teacher give me a call next week. He will give an intro lesson to any newcomers so they know the basics before taking a group class. This will make it easier for me. I really don't want to be thrown in a row full of dance (male or female) without knowing whether I am supposed to be copying them. Once I schedule the class it makes it easier to show up.

 

I am not sure how I am going to bring it up to my wife. Leigh & 2 Left Feet had some good ideas about trying it first or come up with an excuse to start dance. I have a few days to think about it.

 

thanks again!

 

--Steve--

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George Balanchine was fond of saying, "don't think, just do!" ;)

 

He had a good point there; the more we temporize and think about whether to begin something, the less likely we are actually to start!

 

Congratulations on your resolve to go ahead. :)

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Congratulations on your decision!

 

Now you get to face the reality of ballet - it's really hard to learn! You will be asking your body to do things it has never done before and none of them are natural.

 

Promise yourself you will stick with it for several months, and don't get discouraged if you feel like a 3 legged spastic, or have "2 left feet" (sorry Ed, couldn't resist). Eventually your body will start to learn what is expected of it and the learning curve will become more mangeable.

 

Most classes are ongoing, so newcomers are put in the ackward position of trying to learn things everyone else already knows. A private session or two prior to taking group class might introduce you to the basic terms (which are all in French), positions, turns, and jumps.

 

After that, just plunge in and do what you can. Be sure to "hide" in the middle of the barre so you can observe what the person in front of you is doing, no matter which way you are facing.

 

Good luck, and be sure to keep us posted on your reactions to class and progress.

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I think half the battle is admitting you really want to do it in the first place. After that, getting into the studio was easy. If you're in the Los Angeles area, I know most of the teachers and schools around. I'm happy to point you toward teachers who are good with beginners and classes that are slower, better to start with.

 

No offense taken Barretalk. There was once a reason I used the name 2 left feet. I don't feel that way anymore but the name kind of stuck. By the way, my teacher loved having you take class with us.

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