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Why Boys Don’t Do Ballet
I want to get straight to the point with this article and why I think so many fathers are so opposed to their sons taking ballet and where the American prejudice against male dancers comes from. I am not trying to offend anyone with this article, but at the same time as a male dancer myself I have caught so much ignorance and what I have to say may offend some. I hope this is taken with an open mind because this is a real problem and I try to explain what the real, ground-level causes of it are.
Ever since I can remember I have heard my friends laugh or joke about any guy dancing on stage wearing shorts. In the days long before YouTube and cable TV, movies might be shown in school as part of a history or civilization class, and they would inevitably touch on the arts and then at some point show ballet. As soon as the male dancers appeared, here came the jokes and snickers. Having done ballet myself since the age of 4, I was always in trouble, but most of the time no one knew I took ballet, so I sat quietly and listened to Snide’s lyrics. I must say that even though it’s not at all the case that someone is made fun of or made fun of because of their race, I feel like I know something like that because I’ve always loved ballet and never heard of it. People insult something that I knew was so good and it’s a part of me that really hurts that makes you feel completely powerless to deal with it.
Much later in life I gained the perspective to look back at my childhood and hear the comments afresh and form some insight into where this prejudice came from. My analysis of prejudice against male ballet dancers follows.
1) Smooth or graceful movement confused with “girlish” movement.
Many, many men do not fully appreciate the value of the body’s ability to move its separate parts simultaneously and smoothly to maintain a wide range of motion and balance. Practically all sports that anyone has seen on TV since the 1950s have required athletes to move in a straight line as fast or as hard as possible. Male ballet dancers must move differently because the dancer’s goal is to maintain balance rather than putting a large amount of energy into the ball or another person’s body. Many confuse it with ballet and make men move like girls. Besides, ballet really makes men move a lot like practicing tai chi or kung fu or especially yoga. Add to this the idea that ballet is a pure creative exercise set to music, not intended to hurt or make another person unconscious, and you arrive at the basis of one of the biggest misconceptions about ballet among men. Curiously, this is also the reason why many men find it extremely challenging to do ballet and gain respect for it later in life if they ever take their daughter to a class during an open house type event.
2) Children do not wear shorts
Let’s check this out. While warning that I may offend some people with this article, this part is exactly what I was referring to. I don’t know how to approach this, so here it is: every male player wears shorts or less. A swimmer? You wear lycra speedos. Wrestler? Seriously, what is that spandex bodytard thing you guys wear? Football? Lycra-spandex cut off shorts with some extra padding and cups. Don’t confuse the shoulder pads and jersey top as you also wear a cropped version of the shorts. And, if the boys are doing “girly” things while they’re dancing, what do you call going behind the back end of the center and putting your hand almost in his crotch before the ball drops?
3) My son will be gay if he takes ballet
Now if you ask my wife, I am a flaming heterosexual. I know a lot of gay people, but most of the gay people I know are sports junkies and have never done ballet. And they’d be as fit from pumping iron all the time as they’d be lucky enough to do ballet like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It really stumps me honestly and comes up a lot as a reason why dads don’t let their kids take ballet. Are there gay male dancers? for sure Are there gay men in every profession, including sports? Yes there are, and the football and wrestling examples above show again, if I were a gay man I would play those sports because then I would be in direct physical contact with other athletic guys instead of ballet where 99.99% of the time you are dancing with girls! More specifically, you are partnering girls that involve holding them in all sorts of difficult positions and making them sweat themselves which no gay man wants because most gay men don’t want close contact with women. Honestly I have to say that this prejudice has no basis just as any racial prejudice has no basis and the answer to any prejudice is that education does not challenge the prejudice itself because it is based on ignorance or sheer stupidity. Brutally honest fathers who dominate their children have a higher risk of homosexuality than any art form, including ballet.
Now a lot of kids – boys and girls – don’t like ballet and don’t take ballet classes and that’s fine, no activity or sport or art is for everyone. For anyone who harbors this ignorant prejudice against children taking ballet, I hope to simply investigate the area because for those who love ballet, ballet can be a life-long benefit that improves mental and physical health, academic stimulation. The performance guarantees a scholarship to college for any half-way competent male dancer and fosters a lifetime of creativity and imagination. There is hardly any objection to this.
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