Guys and Pointe
By Old_Ballet_Dude
On 12/01/2010 18:38:05
Just curious....... How many of you are on or have trained on Pointe?
re: Guys and Pointe
By PerfectFeet
On 12/02/2010 10:23:14
I am just starting now. I got custom shoes from Capezio made, and have had exactly one lesson in them so far. Next week I'll be doing a bit more. Developes are a fun challenge. I'm going to attempt to learn all of the Cecchetti syllabus pointe work as I go, (alongside the men's work, of course) and I'm in grade 5 right now, which is the beginning of pointe work. It's freakin' hard! And man, do your legs feel it afterward. Absolutely love it, though.
re: Guys and Pointe
By balletboyrhys
On 12/02/2010 15:43:13
i do lots of pointe and have for years. its not really that difficult or painful as long as you have good technique and a strong core.
re: Guys and Pointe
By Jerisonharper
On 12/03/2010 16:11:06
I enjoy pointe work alot and it helps with improving balance! Not to mention calf muscles. =)
re: Guys and Pointe
By greenpumpkin
On 12/04/2010 07:57:05
You've hit on one of the fundamental paradoxes in ballet. Ballet, as it is constructed today, tends to be socially retrograde. It relies upon strict but outdated gender roles, set in a European aristocratic social milieu that disappeared around World War I. There have been mountains of feminist critique of ballet, including predictions of its imminent death for the past 100 years. The fact that it is still alive at all --- in spite of being completely out of touch with contemporary American society --- is testament to the amazing innate beauty of the movement itself. But even as ballet training continues to grow as a phenomenon, professional ballet performance dwindles, largely because it is so out of touch with modern American values. But ballet is not completely out of touch with modern America. As a society, we are used to looking at women's bodies, critiquing women's bodies, objectifying women's bodies, and using women's bodies to express our collective hopes and aspirations in fashion, in parades, and on stage. Those very same uses of men's bodies make us very uncomfortable --- for an example of this phenomenon, look at the "Turkey Time" thread in the "Adult Ballet" section. Another thing to consider is the whole pink tights thing. Go on-line, and you can find plenty of posts that explain why it's so important to wear pink tights --- to see your legs, to improve you line, etc. And yet, men are told to wear black tights, with really no explanation of why all the reasons women should wear pink tights don't apply to men. Men are also told to wear leotards in ways that result in tights falling down. I can't tell you how many men I've taught or observed with sagging tights in the crotch. How can you really move or dance that way, if your tights are falling down and you can't see your legs anyway? And why aren't the people running the show more concerned? So... ballet may be for more than girls. But as Balanchine famously said, "ballet is woman." The roles that men are allowed to play in ballet have traditionally be, and continue to be, highly constrained. To see an example of this, consider the advertisement from Hungary called "Ballet Needs Boys", which actually won an award: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbxnwa7MCzM Somehow, I can't see this ad spurring many American parents to sign up their boys. Nor would I wish to send my daughter to this ballet school, if that meant she'd need a boy to open jars. And I find it hard to believe that this ad was very effective in Hungary either. But... the ad does say something fundamental about the culture that surrounds ballet. So regarding pointe work... men en pointe simply do not fit into the pre-feminist world that ballet is stuck in. Men are "needed" to play the role of Prince Charming to the ballerina on stage. Men are not really needed to make good lines, because that is considered "women's work" (in a world in which "woman" is considered automatically less than "men"). I've seen men dancers who simultaneously don't dance well and act oafish and superior to the women they're working with (who dance amazingly well). Because of these "needs", men are traditionally taught to partner. They are not taught to hone their lines, get good extensions, point their feet, or really present their bodies well. Yes, they're taught the basics in all of these, but they are not put into a competitive environment in which they must excel at these feats. As long as a man looks at least OK and can partner well, he will always have a job in ballet. I see so much wasted body potential among men --- meaning, they could look a lot better if they tried harder, and trained more consistently, and stopped worrying about all the things that "men don't do" in ballet in order to maintain their manliness. I love ballet. But I don't actively advocate for boys to study it, because of these issues. Most men simply are not interested in entering into that kind of an environment, and I don't blame them for it.
re: Guys and Pointe
By guyclone
On 12/07/2010 18:36:03
Just some comments to follow up on what Green Pumpkin said. I don't think girls are told to wear PINK tights because it shows lines best. I think it's because it is a traditional feminine colour to wear, and ballet is very traditional. Men wear black and white because it is more masculine and because men play different roles in ballet. Ballet HAS changed with society, in the form of contemporary/modern dance. While these may be differentiated from classical ballet, it is a natural evolution and I think allows more self expression whereas classical is more about emotion and conformity. I also think ballet has survived in part because it is simply a beautiful spectacle to watch. Generally those who go to see a professional ballet will be enthralled by it. It is amazing. And we fortunately live in a society that is getting more understanding regarding gender roles. While girls still have an easier time dressing as boys than the other way around, people tend to realize that it is a personal preference. There isn't any logical reason why men should not dance en pointe. I have not done it because I am not good enough to progress to it, but I admire the men who do very much.
re: Guys and Pointe
By greenpumpkin
On 12/07/2010 20:39:29
Although the above analysis sounds intuitively appealing, it falls apart under historical analysis. I hope that those reading this enjoy the URLs I've dug up
I think it's because it is a traditional feminine colour to wear
Consider: (b) Until WWII, pink was for boys and blue was for girls. Pink didn't become the ultimate girl color until the 1950's. (a) Gender coding of colors in general is a 20th century phenomenon http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=238733 http://histclo.com/gender/color.html http://histclo.com/gender/col/col-pink.html That is why Disney's Snow White wore blue, not pink: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=snow+white&FORM=BIFD Not only does gender coding for colors change over time, it also changes within disciplines. In figure skating, white is considered feminine and black masculine --- this is strictly enforced with skate boot color. In ballet, white slippers are not considered particularly feminine; in fact, they're more commonly worn by women than men. Therefore... any time you talk about the color pink before 1950, you can't just assume things were done the way they were because pink was considered feminine. Pink tights (and their stocking predecessors) have a long history. For example, consider the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822:
The 'gentrification' of tartan was aided considerably by Walter Scott, who, as impresario, persuaded George IV, a large man by all accounts and with a poor command of English, to visit Edinburgh in 1822, and worse, to wear a kilt set off fetchingly by pink tights. Despite, or perhaps because of this, tartan became an instant fashion, and members of polite society clamoured to have their own version.
(Understanding Scottland, the sociology of a nation, by David McCrone, p. 133) Why did George IV wear pink tights? Why... because his kilt was extra-short and he wanted to hide the pasty complexion of his bare legs
King George IV made an impression by wearing a kilt that was too short – well above the knees – and pink tights to hide his bare legs.
http://www.nationalgalleries.org/collection/online_az/4:322/result/0/8208?artistId=6004&artistName=Sir%20David%20Wilkie&initial=W&submit=1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visit_of_King_George_IV_to_Scotland Ballet dancers wear pink tights today for much the same reason --- because it "improves" their look and hides whatever is beneath them. Pink tights are more linked to white skin than to femininity.
... and ballet is very traditional.
That's true, but ballet also has a poor written history. So frequently, peoples' sense of tradition doesn't extend past a couple of generations. Consider some of the radical changes in ballet clothing that have happened in the past 100 years: * Leotards are only about 100 years old. In dance, they were first used by modern dancers, at a time that ballet dancers were moving toward Greek-style tunics. I have a picture of Ted Shawn in the 1930's, teaching class, in which he and all his men are wearing leotards. And if you look at pictures of ballet class in the 1950's, you'll see plenty of tunics. It's only post-1950's that the leotard, considered so "traditional" today, came into common use in ballet. http://www.saksmovingwear.com/Dance_Wear_Ballet_Dancewear_History.html http://www.tiptoedancewear.com/ballet-history/ * Modern nylon tights are also a new thing. Before that, tights and stockings cost a lot more and didn't work nearly as well. ...and yet, we consider tights and leotard to be "traditional" these days.
Men wear black and white because it is more masculine and because men play different roles in ballet.
Women wear tons of black tights in ballet --- in a typical adult class, you'll see more women wearing black tights than pink. Does that mean they're all expressing their masculine side?
I don't think girls are told to wear PINK tights because it shows lines best.
Much as I have looked, I've not been able to truly uncover the origin of pink tights in ballet. For all I know, it's lost in the recesses of oral history. The best I can do is point to a variety of web sites in which pink tights are discussed in the ballet context. Time and time again, they are seen as quite more revealing than black tights. And that is the deepest reason, I believe, that they are not considered for men these days --- because even in the ballet studio, we still have a strong cultural bias against men revealing their bodies. Here is the most succinct description I've found of "wear pink tights to show your legs better", from the Joffrey Ballet School's ballet-fit book (p 65):
While no one will dictate to an adult student what he or she has to wear, pink tights are preferred and here's why: * Pink tights are more professional. Pink is what dancers wear on stage, and schools training professionals usually require their serious students to wear pink tights... * Pink tights are more practical. They allow your teacher a better view of the articulation of youre leg muscles so he or she can correct your positioning. * Pink tights are more flattering. Worn with pink ballet shoes, they create a long unbroken line and the illusion of a longer leg. (Ballet shoes are pink because they emulate pointe shoes, which, unless they're custom-dyed for a performance, are always pink). Please don't wear pink tights with black ballet shoes --- it's an ugly look that cuts the line of the leg and immediately labels you as a newcomer.
http://books.google.com/books?id=s9MqDhcPzhMC&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=ballet+pink+tights+teachers+see+legs+lines&source=bl&ots=c_f7dAmKH9&sig=cL0GAr3e4apvnl-Wry5FL9djF-w&hl=en&ei=Luf-TI2QCYH58Aasn5i3Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false (Notice that no mention of gendered difference in ballet dress was made in this chapter of the book; probably more of an oversight than intentional). Here's another brief explanation of the same idea: [quote]When you go to dance class, you should always wear clothes so the teacher can easily see the way you are moving. This means wearing the bear [sic] minimum. For ballet, it's easiest to see what muscles you are using in your legs if your wear white or pink tights.[/quote] http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/chezsarah/dtip.html ...and here are some hilarious contemporary voices on pink tights: http://en.wordpress.com/tag/pink-tights/
Ballet HAS changed with society, in the form of contemporary/modern dance. While these may be differentiated from classical ballet, it is a natural evolution
...that is the reason why so many people thought ballet would die 100 years ago. Instead, it is bigger than ever, at least in the popular consciousness. When you think of "dancing", you think of the Nutcracker, not Martha Graham. Ballet schools are filled with little girls wanting to be the Sugar Plum Fairy; modern dance schools not so much. Ballet training is availalable all over the country, modern dance just in a few big cities and still centered in New York. Why do so many parents continue to send their girls to ballet class, even though we know it is so pre-feminist and that modern dance has moved beyond these problems?
and I think allows more self expression whereas classical is more about emotion and conformity.
Classicism in all art forms is about (in part) expression within a formalized structure. Modernism in all art forms has more of an "anything goes" sensibility to it.
There isn't any logical reason why men should not dance en pointe. I have not done it because I am not good enough to progress to it, but I admire the men who do very much.
In contrast to pink tights, pointe shoes have been considered exclusively feminine from day one. They allowed the 19th century dancer to rise up on her toes and become more "etherial" --- a trait highly valued of women at that time. In that sense, men dancing en pointe may be more of a challenge (historically) to strict gender roles than men wearing pink tights.
re: Guys and Pointe
By guyclone
On 12/07/2010 21:56:20
well I guess if theres ever a college course on men in pink, this would all be great. I think you may have misunderstood, and thus responded in a much more elaborate post than really needed. I have no problem with guys in pink. I wear pink ballet shoes sometimes. However I think the whole pink and ballet stereotype is valid, because almost everyone grew up assosiating pink with femininity. Maybe it wasn't always this way. But for most everyone alive now, this is what they know. And when they think of ballet, they think of little girls in pink tights prancing around. Anyways, lets get back to the point of the post. Guys should be free to do pointe if they wish to. Why the hell not!
re: Guys and Pointe
By greenpumpkin
On 12/09/2010 08:04:08
Here's an interesting article related to the (more general) topics at hand. I've only had a chance to skip it so far, but it looks well-written. http://artsci.wustl.edu/~perfhist/spr_07_essays/sylphs_to_subversion.html More later.
re: Guys and Pointe
By guyclone
On 12/09/2010 19:12:34
...so much reading. Pointe hurts like crazy!
re: Guys and Pointe
By hecandance
On 12/10/2010 07:55:37
In the NY Times an article about the Trocks. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/10/arts/dance/10trock.html?ref=dance
re: Guys and Pointe
By PerfectFeet
On 12/10/2010 18:05:28
In a weird way, I DO take them quite seriously! These are the select few guys- the rare subset of males that do pointe, within the rare realm of male ballet dancers as it is, that have chosen to really pursue this art in just as seriously a way as any female ballerina would. I definitely aspire to dance like a trock, as a 30 year-old male on pointe. In fact, I'd even go as far as saying that my desire to dance proficiently en pointe equals my desire to dance the traditional men's repertoire well. I don't really have any desire to emulate a ballerina, but I'd love to be feel like I've mastered pointe work to my personal best efforts.
re: Guys and Pointe
By TidalWhale
On 12/12/2010 09:45:58
I have studied pointe for some time now. I believe that it has helped strengthen my dancing and center. It has also helped me in teaching other students in pointe and to understand how to further aide my pas-de-deux partnering. As far as tights go you really don't need them to do pointe, no matter what colour. I am not quite sure why that issue was addressed here.
re: Guys and Pointe
By Matthew_dance4ly
On 01/13/2011 08:50:06
Im 13 and ive been on pointe for 1.5 years :) I love it!!! and I can go over my box further than a lot of girls
re: Guys and Pointe
By guyclone
On 01/13/2011 18:32:11
Good for you, Matthew! How do you like it? Why did you decide to try pointe instead of just sticking with what the other guys do? How are your friends with it???
re: Guys and Pointe
By balletkml
On 01/23/2011 23:52:09
I started ballet at 7 and pointe work at 11in Hong Kong, my mom have to sign a release form to let me start point work. There was another boy in my class but he was not interested and considered it too girly for him. I found nothing wrong with the discipline, it doesn't hurt my feet and never used ouch pouch or lambs wool! I dance professionally in Japan now and often perform en-pointe. BTW, I don't see anything wrong with wearing pink tights over a nude colour dancebelt, my pointes are already pink! The girls used to tease me at first, but as I am serious with the art of ballet and I was treated just like all the students soon afterwards.

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