Why Does It Matter That Men In Ballet Are Considered Feminine?

Introduction

Ballet is an artistic dance form. It is perfumed to music that is using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. It is usually characterized by light, graceful, fluid movements and the use of pointe shoes. The pointe shoes are one of the mandatory costumes that go with the ballet[1]. The ballet dancers are able to twist their legs in ways that most people cannot. Ballet is performed by both male and female. However, the dance is strongly related to the feminine to appoint that men who perform the dance are considered less masculine. Ballet can also mean the group of dancers regularly performs ballet. It began during the Renaissance around the year 1500 (15th century) in Italy. It was introduced when Catherine de Medici of Italy got married to the French King Henry II. She also introduced the dance in the court life in France. From the start of Ballet, it was started by women and it has been mostly performed by women. Men that perform ballet are considered feminine because the dance has been initiated by women and even some women feel that men do not have the body to play ballet.

Ballet and Gender

Since ballet was known as the game for female, men have greatly had challenges fitting in the game. Women were the first to start practicing the dance openly[2]. In the dance of the ballerina, it is the best place that it fits that what a man can do a woman can do better. In 1988, men who took part in ballet were considered as boys with pretty face and soft bodies. They were considered men who could not take part in hard task and thus resorted to sports that were left for females to showcase their body. It was clear that ballerina was considered a game for the female and that is why the male generation had a lot of critics. However, the male were not left behind as they continued to perform the dance. They took part regardless of the criticism.

In 2003, the issue of homosexuality started to become widespread. However, the act was not widely accepted as of today. Men who took part in the ballerina were considered “feminine, homosexual, wimp, spoiled, gay, dainty, fragile, weak, fluffy, woosy, prissy, artsy and sissy”[3]. Men who took part in the dance and their trainers started coming up with means to ensure that the game would be accepted by the male generation and so as to end the stigmatization. They tried to prove that the dance was as complicated as the rest of the games especially football and it was more masculine. They came up with a strategy known as “making it macho”. The strategy was meant at proving that the game was more masculine and that the men that joined the game were not weak as many people thought. Ballerina is not all about gender. It is about how much a person can twist they legs. Despite all the effort, many people still believed that the dance was a game for the female. For instance, in the 19th century, Parisan critic Jules Janin made a declaration that men were ugly creatures and they could not take part in ballet effectively[4].

However, currently or in the recent past most of the ballerina dancers are paired male and female. The current generation is trying to incorporate the both genders and prove that men can be accepted in ballet. The incorporation of male and female in a dance is as a result of macho. Regardless of the efforts that have been made, due to the origin and history of ballet, men who take part in ballet will usually be considered feminine.

 

Ballet and Race & Ethnicity

There is limit in diversity in people that perform ballet. Ballet is mostly performed by the whites and the people of the color are usually left out. “Russia’s elite Bolshoi Ballet has no black dancers in its company of 218;”[5] this shows that there are no people of the color that have been given the chance to practice ballerina in that company out of the 218 dancers. From the trend in the ballerina it is not wrong for one to conclude that racism still exists. Most of the companies that take part in ballet do not provide economic support to help the people of the color. Many people of the color are willing to take part in the game but due to lack of support they hardly make it. Since ballet has been associated with female, most black parents will fail to support their male children to take part in ballet. Due to the association with the feminine, male children especially of the color do not get support when it comes to ballet.

The ballet is mostly done by the Russians and some of the aborigines. However, the white Americans started to take part in the dance. Ted Shawn decided to take part in the ballet dance despite the fact that he was a man. According to Eric, parents do not take ballet serious especially the black parents and thus the child ends up not having adequate support especially male child[6].

Ballet and Popular Culture

“The image associated with ballet created through popular culture has sparked a stigma of what it means to be a dancer.” Since the introduction of ballet in Italy, the dance was done mostly by women. The art of the dance is considered a feminine thing and men that were willing to take part in the dance are considered to be more feminine and are looked down upon. Ballet is mainly for showing off and revealing the beauty. Most people like Jules Janin believe that men are not attractive to display their body. However, as the world begun to progress many men have taken part in the ballet despite the stigmatization that comes with it. Culture makes it look like more gay men are attracted to ballet that straight men[7]. Although many men are trying to make it in ballet, they fail, because of the stigmatization.

“Classical ballet is viewed as a sexual art form without any athleticism and is represented as such in popular culture.” The art of ballet is considers feminine to appoint that people do not even consider that ballerina all about the ability to twist the toe. Ballerina is not an art for female as such because not all female can make good ballets. Some men are even better than most of the female ballet. Recently ballet has been described as an art and not a sport. Ballet has joined the pop culture and is currently featuring in many movies and T.V series[8]. In most series and movies that ballet has been presented it is usually associated with the female. It is thus quite difficult to associate ballet to masculinity. The best series that has been made about ballet focused on two girls competing to win.

Conclusion

Ballet has been known to be an activity for the women. Men that perform ballet are considered feminine because the dance has been initiated by women and even some women feel that men do not have the body to play ballet. Men that have taken part in ballet have been considered to be feminine and called names since 1988. Men have tried to come up with strategies to ensure that the ballet is considered masculine and hence the start of making it macho. Women think that men do not have what it takes to display themselves in the public like women. People of the color have not been given chance to participate in the ballet. Racism still exists in ballerina. Ballerina has depicted the lifestyle of the people in Russia, Middle East and Asia. The classic art of ballet as made it more feminine and thus promoting the stigmatization of men taking part in ballerina.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Carlos Acosta and Racism. Afrocubaweb. http://www.afrocubaweb.com/carlosacosta.htm

Anderson, Jack. Ballet and Modern Dance a Concise History. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton    Book Company Publishers, 1992.

Deng Boer. Finally, a Pop-Cultural Portrayal of Ballets as Art, Not Sport. The Atlantic.                 https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/03/finally-a-pop-cultural-         portrayal-of-ballet-as-art-not-sport/273675/

Fisher, Jennifer. “Make It Maverick: Rethinking the “Make It Macho” Strategy for Men in            Ballet.” Dance Chronicle 30, no. 1 (2007): 45-66.      http://www.jstor.org.librarylink.uncc.edu/stable/25598095.

Macaulay Alastair. Stereotypes in Toeshoes. New York Times 2012.                 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/arts/dance/ballet-clings-to-racial-ethnic-and-          national-stereotypes.html

Risner, Doug. “Rehearsing Heterosexuality: “Unspoken” Truths in Dance Education.” Dance        Research Journal 34, no. 2 (2002): 63-78. doi:10.2307/1478460.

Underwood Eric. Ballet’s problem with non-white performers. The Guardian.                 https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/sep/09/ballet-problem-nonwhite-eric-  underwood

 

[1] Macaulay Alastair. Stereotypes in Toeshoes. New York Times 2012.

[2] Anderson, Jack. Ballet and Modern Dance a Concise History. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Book Company Publishers, 1992.

[3] Fisher, Jennifer. “Make It Maverick: Rethinking the “Make It Macho” Strategy for Men in Ballet.” Dance Chronicle 30, no. 1 (2007): 45-66.

[4] llbh

[5] Carlos Acosta and Racism. Afrocubaweb.

 

[6] Underwood Eric. Ballet’s problem with non-white performers. The Guardian.

[7] Risner, Doug. “Rehearsing Heterosexuality: “Unspoken” Truths in Dance Education.” Dance Research Journal 34, no. 2 (2002): 63-78. doi:10.2307/1478460.

[8] Deng Boer. Finally, a Pop-Cultural Portrayal of Ballets as Art, Not Sport. The Atlantic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s