Forum: Ballet / Guys in Ballet

Guys in Ballet
What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts
By mohabee Comments: 767, member since Sun Dec 08, 2002
On Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:50 AM
Edited by mohabee (51469) on 2009-03-09 00:53:44

From some of the replies to Matt's inquiry, it seems there is a question, "what is 'masculine' dance?"

This is from my humble perspective, based on the many years I danced professionally, and also have seen ballet in performance.

I think men appear most masculine when they show "skin." The leg muscles of a male dancer are typically elongated, and most ballet movement is leg, thigh, and chest oriented. So the more a dancer "shows skin," and hence, musculature, the moreso masculine he appears.

There are a number of ballets in which the male dancers wear only "skinny shorts," which barely cover the thighs. There are other moreso "edgy" dances in which the male dancer is naked, save for a dance belt (and even edgier, with nothing on at all--I danced naked twice in my career). What one wears (or what one isn't wearing)has a part in defining "masculinity" in dance. On a simple level, just to wear tights but without a shirt seems "edgy," and masculine.

But "masculine dance" is not only what we see--it's what the movement across the stage projects. Men move with energy and a spirit that's totally different from women's movement--we're faster, moreso massive, and also have brawn. Show that brawn, guys, and there's masculine dance.

I hope this stimulates thought and discussion about what is "masculine" in dance. There are no "right," nor are there "wrong" statements, since each of us has a different opinion about this matter.

I invite you to share what you think is "masculine" in ballet and dance.


5 Replies to What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts

re: What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts
By LittleButFierce Comments: 882, member since Sat May 05, 2007
On Thu Mar 26, 2009 02:30 PM
Well, I dont think it has to do with the costuming or showing skin so much as the actual dancing. I am thinking to not post here anymore because too many posts are about clothes and not dance, it is weird and uncomfortable a lot.

But anyway. Masculine dancing is strong and has a weight that feminine dance does not. We jump higher and stay in the air longer, we are more into the floor as well. Just different. Our look is masculine and strong but still graceful and noble like a king or prince or something. We are not flowers or fairies or sprites. We are strong and we are athletic and masculine.
re: What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts (karma: 2)
By tybalt Comments: 583, member since Fri Nov 24, 2006
On Fri Mar 27, 2009 09:36 AM
There is still little resonance about what Mohabee, one of the most distinguished members of this board, stressed out about what's our common dedication and job: masculine dance. He emhasized 2 points: skin and brawn. Brawn meaning the special muscular body strength, power, flexibility and momentum in contrast to female grace and pointe elegance, skin meaning the scarcity of costume or nearly-nudity we are often requested to further emphasize male muscularity of legs, arms and chest. Littlebutfierce refuses this "skin topic" to be of such importance regretfully announcing his retiring from this board because of too much costume debate.

I think both are right but don't cover everything what means "masculine dancing". It's not only "brawn and skin", and it doesn't make sense to deny the skin topic. But what about other male characters? I mean the "danseur noble", the lyric dancer, the lover, who doesn't fit under the heading. Look at Lenski in Onegin, The prince in Swan Lake (with exception of the 3rd act with his great tours du manège), Desiré in Sleeping Beauty, in some way even Romeo.

Aren't they masculine as well, you may call them "soft type masculines", characters who beside brawn show sensitivity and soft elegance. What about the comedians like in "Lady and fool" or "Jeu de cartes"? Isn't that male dance either? Or are these just a sexless rolls? Look in Cranco's "Taming" you have 3 excellent male characters. Petrucchio, who is the "brawn and skin" character (showing little skin only), Lucentio, the "danseur noble" and Gremio "the comedian".

So I think Mohabee's definition, with all respect to his much bigger experience, is too narrow. Masculine dance is much more, as I tried to explain by those few examples to which you may add many more.
I should stop dancing if restricted to be a "brawn and skin dancer", though I have often danced in the male "shirtless-above-tights-outfit". I'd like to try to express by dancing more aspects of masculinity, without disregarding this special and important aspect.
re: What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts
By LittleButFierce Comments: 882, member since Sat May 05, 2007
On Sat Mar 28, 2009 05:43 PM
Just so you guys here know. Some guy named Jaimeimadancer sent me a link to chippendales to ask me if I think it is masculine for them to keep their clothes on. I am a kid which I think you can pretty much tell if you look at my profile. I feel this board is not a good place at all because this is the third time I have had sexual things said to me in PMs by creeps here that I did not talk to or anything.

Its really gross and not to mention illegal. I think because you let the mens boards go away from dance and into other things you get this kind of person who thinks its ok to talk to kids like that.

I reported him to mods but I doubt you will do anything.
re: What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts
By mohabee Comments: 767, member since Sun Dec 08, 2002
On Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:29 PM
Hi Little But Fierce, and Everyone!

I think I may have struck a nerve here, but really, I do believe in what I have said, and yes, it is a fairly narrow perspective.

My goal here is to discuss what one might see as "masculine," which is a word that means so much, yet has been stretched out to mean hardly anything. So I took a rather narrow approach.

In the many discussions about clothing and the fear of revealing, it seems that one could talk on and on about this, and really not produce anything. Some who are the "talkers" in our midst are really the timid, the "wanna bees," or perhaps the "arm chair dancers." It's OK to be timid, a wanna-bee, or in the arm chair, but it's so much greater to actually take a class, to see if dance will really "rock" for you.

The "real men" are those who actually take the risk, and go to class. The men I admire are those who not only take class, but get used to the dance belt, and don't fear revealing one's body, and instead focus on the purpose of dancing--when one is focused on the next step, one can "fly" in the air!

So yes, revealing is part of the equation, but the talent, the genuine "love" for the art of ballet, and actually standing up to the repetitions, the classes, the impossible time constraints, and yes, those who quiz us on these boards--all are part of the stuff one might call "masculine."

So my focus of this discussion is really to get a sense of what is "masculine" in dance. So I reopen the query, perhaps with a moreso open viewpoint.

Princes, valor, brawn and grace--yes those are "masculine" roles. What I'm seeking in this discussion isn't so much about roles or characters one might portray. It's moreso about what makes a man in dance "masculine."

I can agree that being a dancer who is often cast as a Solor or a Drosselmeyer is an obvious "masculine dancer." But somehow that seems shallow and narrow as a definition in the concept of "masculine dancing." It doesn't include the abstract near-naked character in a contemporary ballet, or the fellow who dons a tutu and dances en pointe. In costume, one can appear to be one thing, but out of a costume, one is a man. So what is is "masculinity in dance?"

So I continue to invite discussion, friendly debate, and positive musings. I do hope this won't dissuade anyone from our group. I'm attempting to provide discussion that transcends the typical "what shall I wear and why" kinds of discourse--encouraging one to become "masculine" in one's own way.

Keep on Dancing, and writing about who you are as a "masculine dancer!"

re: What Is "Masculine" Dancing--Some thoughts
By guyclone Comments: 253, member since Wed Dec 28, 2005
On Sun Apr 05, 2009 10:55 PM
LittlebutFierce, sorry you've been having trouble here. I hope the mods take care of it for you. Just remember, most people are nice and legit, but it always takes a few creeps to screw things up for everyone, hang in there.

To respond to the question, I love seeing a good male dancer who dances masculine. To me, this means seeing a man and buying him in a mans role. Seeing him show his strength through jumps and lifts. Seeing them show aggression and passion through their dance is awesome.