Forum: Ballet / Guys in Ballet

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A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet (karma: 30)
By dsrutis
On Thu Apr 01, 2004 01:27 PM

<b><i>A guide to males in Ballet</i></b>

Sooooooo, got your sights set on doing some ballet eh? I notice a lot of questions get asked on here that are basically the same thing time and time again, so I figured I'd do my best to set up a basic know how to guide for all you males starting out and such, lets start with ballet attire...


For the most part, you want to ask your teacher what they want you to wear, basically though you want black tights with a white T-shirt.
For tights I prefer black Milliskin, it fits well, holds its shape, and presents the line well. Footed or not is really a matter of personal choice, but if you're going to use it for a show, definitely get footed. My brand of choice being M Stevens.
The fitting of tights can be a bit tricky for a first timer, you don't want to end up with your tight's crotch by your knees, or too long of legs.
So buy tights that the legs fit without too much stretching, if the waist comes up kind of high, that's okay, no worries there, the legs fitting are more important then how high the waist goes, the waist can be fixed, more on that later...

For T-shirts... Well... Wear whatever brand up want... Hanes... Fruit of the loom... it's all good... tight or baggy, tucked in or not, it's up to the teacher, be sure to ask what they like best before you rush out and buy up a mess of them.

<i>Help! my tights are falling! (AKA baggy knees or ankles)</i>
Tights are going to fall down while you dance... that's inevitable, but there are a few ways to fix it.
A quick fix, which works well if you have to tuck in your shirt, is to get a piece of elastic that you can put around you waist, this will hold your tights up, you can roll your tights over this fold them down, or whatever feels comfortable for you.
Make sure it's tight enough that it holds them up, but not too tight that it cuts off blood flow to your lower body.
The other requires some sewing. You have to get two strips of elastic and sew each on there, one side on the front, the other on the back, so you basically have suspenders on your tights, once again, tight enough they'll hold your tights up, but not too tight, it should be comfortable.

<i>Dance belts</i>
Oh the evil part of being a male dancer...
Dance belts are both good and bad... Good because they keep things in place, prevent injury, and keep things from flopping around, bad because they're uncomfortable, and just utterly a pain in the... well... you know where I'm going with that...

Now there are a few different kinds. for those who just can't STAND to wear thongs, they do make a full backed one, but those look horrible in tights because they give you well... panty lines.. no better way to say it... You don't want these for shows... no no no no... none of that.
As for everyday wear, I find the quilted kind Capezio makes to be the most comfortable... For what that's worth... I also wear non quilted to class, quilted just gives your extra support and comfort in the front.
And to answer that question that's so often asked... No male dancers don't stuff...


Now this is really all a matter of personal choice, try different things, see what you like.
I started of my dancing with full sole leather ballet shoes, which are okay... They don't help your pointe much, and don't look that good in my eyes. But if you like them, go with it.
For the most part, leather lasts longer, but doesn't look as good and can leave marks on the floor, where as canvas form to the foot better, are lighter, but don't last as long.
Depending on how often you dance and how much money you have, I'd say go split sole canvas, they may not last as long, but they look bett, feel better, work better on floors, and you can get more turns out of them.. heh...
But as with attire, ask your teacher what they would like to see you wear... maybe have a pair of each in your bag if you can.
I personally like Sansha pro split sole canvas.

<i>What's the deal with the elastics?</i>

Normally there are 2 strips of elastic attached near the back of the shoe. There are 2 ways to go about fixing this... The lazy way, and the not preferred way.
The lazy way is to take each of the strips and wrap them around your foot, so they make an X on the top of your arch, and tie them together underneath, this is good for class, but not really for shows.
The other is to make the same X, but sew the elastics to either side of the shoe, which takes some effort as the fabric of shoes is rather thick, but can be done.

<b>Wear and Tear and Upkeep</b>

To wash your tights you can either toss them in the washing machine or do it by hand, the washing machine normally gets them cleaner, but wears them out faster. But regardless you want them to hang dry, this will help them last longer and keep the stitching in it's place.

If you have footed tights, chances are over time your big toe will start to wear a hole in them and BLOOP, there's your toe, you can either try and sew this up or let it go, knowing well that it will get bigger and bigger over time. But it's nothing worth throwing the tights away because of.

Don't wash your shoes.
If you think they need to be cleaned just wipe the surface with a cloth and let them air dry. and if they get too stinky, grab the Febreze.

For dance belts you can just toss them in the washing machine, and either hang dry or toss them in the dryer, I just chuck my in the dryer and let it do it's thing.

Well we're finally dressed, so lets get into class.

<b>Class behavior</b>

I won't delve too much into this as there are other posts on the site about behavior and such, I'll just touch on a few for guys.

The first time you go into a studio, most likely the girls who have been there for a while will have set spots to stand at the barre, so if you want to be polite, wait and see where they all go before grabbing a spot.
And remember, a shoe or such on the floor means that spot is taken.

Don't worry about what the females thing or say about your tights or the way you dance, they'll get use to it, and soon not even notice when you come walking in with your tights on.

Try not to talk in class and always listen to what the teacher has to say, never talk when they are giving a combination, or explaining something.

Tale every correction as a drop of water. You're a sponge and want to absorb as much as possible, even corrections other people get, listen and apply it to yourself, it's all helpful and needed.

Don't be afraid to be graceful.
I know males who are far too stiff and ridged in their dancing because they don't want to look "soft", but part of ballet is the flowing, try to make everything look as smooth as possible, and don't worry about what the girls or such will think, because they are busy worrying about their own placement.
(Although your teacher may tell your otherwise... Always listen to your current instructor)

Don't ever say how your feet hurt in the company of females who wear pointe shoes... unless you want to die...

For heaven sakes, don't leer at the girls, that's just not polite inside or outside of ballet class.. You're there to learn... And on the flip side of that... Don't leer at the other males either... It goes both ways.

Memory is most important for newbies. Get to the point where you can remember combinations, don't rely on watching other people, teach yourself to pick things up quickly... This is a must have in the dance world.

<b> Partnering class</b>

I've already written a long list of partnering tips, if requested I will post in on here.

But the first time partnering can be strange... Don't be afraid to get close to the female, and don't act like you're doing something inappropriate, because you're not.

Just listen to her and the teacher and do what is corrected, and try to get the feeling that's your partner is like an extension of your body.


Okay, we got through rehearsals and classes and have made it to the theater, what now?


Yes more attire stuff.
What I'm about to say will make you shutter in terror... but it's a good idea and helps... For shows... Wear two dance belts... Yes two... Things show up better under stage lights, and we don't want that... So double up.

If wearing a costume that when you lift your arms up, it goes up too, make sure you put elastic suspenders on your tights so your flesh doesn't show when you do.

Depending on the show you may or may not be allowed to watch from the wings, if you can watch, watch, but remember, if the you can see the audience, they can see you, and that's a no no.

If you don't get one before hand, give yourself a mini barre on your own, going out and dancing on stage with no warm up is a great way to pull something.

Don't complain about what you have to wear. I've had to wear unitards, nothing but tights, see through mesh outfits, so chances are you won't always like what you wear, but someone worked hard to make that thing, and something may look stupid back stage, from the audience, it may look totally awesome.

Project confidence when you dance, you want people to know you know what you're doing, even if you don't. Half of being a male dancer is the attitude you give on stage, being able to do tricks is all well and good, but if you can't present them correctly, then they aren't as impressive.

If you mess up, don't let it show... Don't make a face, just try to make it a smooth graceful mess up.

A lot of times the girls around you will give each other compliments to no end, but not say a thing about how you did, I'm not sure why this is, but it seems to happen, just be confident in the job you did, and go on with the show.

Ah, I almost forgot about stage make up.

<i>Make up</i>

Make up can be quite important in our line of work. Basically when you put it on, you just want to accent your features so they're more visible from the audience. You're not a 16 year old girl going out on a date though, so you don't have to go crazy.
If nothing else, powder, blush, light lipstick, and maybe a bit of eyeliner.

If you can, go make up shopping with a female... Or gay friend... Or take a make up class at a local college or such, these can be quite helpful. Actors wear make up when they go out on stage, you're an actor as well, you're just using your body to say what you want to get across, not your words.

So there's a few basics to remember, I could prattle on forever about it, because there is so much to learn and know about ballet, but part of it is discovering it on your own.
If you have any questions, or think I should add something to here that you've always wondered, feel free to ask.
Hope I was helpful


134 Replies to A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet

re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet (karma: 1)
By ldndancboy
On Fri Apr 02, 2004 02:29 AM
Hey dsrutis, that's a great and very useful guide. I'm just starting out doing amateur ballet classes & been trying to work out what I should wear. Your advice on etiquette & how to behave was very helpful too! Happy dancing!
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By balletisfun
On Fri Apr 02, 2004 01:27 PM
yes like he said a white t-shirt and black tights is a safe bet.but ask your teacher' im told to wear sweatpants but ask you teacher.
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By LEscrimeurFemmemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Apr 02, 2004 06:53 PM
Removed by Theresa (28613) on 2005-12-17 20:48:32 girls not allowed on guys only forums
This is a great post, I'm going to send a link of it to my bf who's starting ballet this quarter. Karma heading your way :D

love always,
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet (karma: 1)
By Bart243
On Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:20 PM
WOW! Great advice all the way around!

However, in 22 years of dancing (OOPS.... 24 years... I'm gettin older), I have never had a woman in class comment on my tights. The women in class are there for the class. So are the guys. Ballet class usually means tights, and, unless you are in a backwater town, no one is going to comment on what you are wearing.

I mention this only to try and reduce any aprehension of wearing proper dancewear to class. Easy for me to say, of course! When I first wore tights to class, I thought EVERYONE was staring at me! They were just taking class, and I was the one who had issues. After a short period of time, you will get used to it. Concentrated exercise has a way of focusing the mind on what's REALLY important!

Take the class, focus, follow, and ENJOY!

re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By CaliDance_Guy853
On Sat Apr 03, 2004 12:19 AM
UR awesome thanks for the help. It was a very useful post. U ROCK!!!
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By DaNsTamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Apr 06, 2004 10:21 PM
Thats some really great advice there...

Though im still a bit curious about toubling up on the dance belt during a performance..could you explain again? lol

Otherwise so very helpful!!!! Are u a dance teacher?

cool pic!
By dancin4dalord
On Thu Apr 08, 2004 12:26 PM
love the picture! I am a new member as of right now, but I have a picture of me almost identical form Russian (Nuctracker) which I will post as soon as I am able. peace.
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By caseylb54member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Apr 10, 2004 09:15 PM
What a great guide!
Basics For Men--Standing Ovation!
By mohabee
On Mon Apr 12, 2004 03:16 PM
Hi DS!

Thanks for your guide--I think this clearly tells newcomers to ballet instruction and stage performance what to expect, and what is expected.

My only concern is--two dance belts? Hmm-I think this is really up to the wardrobe person and costume designer--when I was dancing professionally, and was fitted for a costume, I was measured with only one dance belt on--it seems that the extra elastic could cause problems (some of the costumes don't allow for extra waist width). It never hurts to ask!

Nonetheless, take a bow to the audience! Bravo!

Keep on dancing!

re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By joreg
On Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:19 PM
none of you men wear leotards then?
By nuxy
On Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:48 PM
ouu, i like it... ;DD
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By Gaudium
On Sat Apr 24, 2004 09:14 PM
Great advice but you did not touch on the one question I wanted to ask for years but never had the nerve. I cannot think of a way to ask this question politely.

So here goes, I have had teachers and directors tell me to wear my works up pointing at my chin, because it gives better lines in white tights under bright lights.

I had several videos taken at shows, while I was in both positions. I do not care for the up position but must admit that the lines are much better.

This is about the only way white tights and a white Dance belt look good under bright lights.
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet (karma: 1)
By dsrutis
On Sun Apr 25, 2004 08:08 PM
It should point up, when you pull your dance belt on there shouldn't be too much adjusting going on. Pointing up is the best line.... Normally you want a flesh colored dance belt under white tights because it doesn't show up as well, and seeing it on video is where my 2 dance belt comment comes into play... It will be much less noticeable and such if you wear two, uncomfortable.... yes.... but it will look better and not show you off as well...

re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By Gaudium
On Sun Apr 25, 2004 09:36 PM
Thanks for the response. I believe you are accurate on both counts. Keep Dancing
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By Gaudium
On Sun Apr 25, 2004 09:47 PM

I have plagiarized your post (Basic Guide to Males in Ballet) several times, because it is so informative. When you’re good you’re good. I just wanted you to know how much your original post is appreciated.

When I plagiarize your work I refer everyone back to this page....
Keep Dancing
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By kcdncr
On Mon Apr 26, 2004 06:16 PM
what a wonderful guide for the male dancer. i wish many of the other guys in my studio had read your article. it's should be a must read for every new guy who is thinking of taking a ballet class or is already in class.
By Mustang007
On Tue May 04, 2004 12:10 AM
just a tip from me . . . if you really like you tights to be comfortable, buy M Stevens. the best by far
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By Gaudium
On Tue May 04, 2004 10:59 AM

I agree with you on the M Stevens tights, when I first started Ballet It took me sometime to find out they were the best. My Dance instructor directed me to M Stevens. Best advice anyone ever gave me.
basic guide
By SilverGreyDancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 17, 2004 03:14 PM
Quit a sence of humor! I like it! I have just returned to dance and althought I'm very rusty, I was asked to join a partnering class. I've never done that! Where to start. You offered a list of tips where do I find these?
I enoyed your post and learned a few things I didn't know. Thanks!

basic guide
By SilverGreyDancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 17, 2004 03:17 PM
Quit a sence of humor! I like it! I have just returned to dance and althought I'm very rusty, I was asked to join a partnering class. I've never done that! Where to start. You offered a list of tips where do I find these?
I enoyed your post and learned a few things I didn't know. Thanks!

re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By Tiggerdance
On Sun May 23, 2004 08:36 PM
Thanks for the info!!!
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By CheekyN
On Wed May 26, 2004 08:45 AM
Just starting private lessons, so nice to read this information
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By mendance2
On Thu May 27, 2004 09:07 PM
Good Job, I'd buy it, but its free. Just one more class that I don't have to pay for. Thanks!
re: A Basic Guide to Males in Ballet
By neDayATaTimemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Jun 06, 2004 10:41 PM
Is that possible and allowed? To double your dancebelt? Although I give many thanks for the guide for Males in Ballet it seems to have very helpful information in there. Thanks.
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