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Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

The second paragraph can be said of anyone in the arts. We all – women and men – have to compete for attention, and that competition is fierce. Most writers, artists, musicians, and singers must have “day jobs”. Dancers, like athletes, rely on their strength, grace, and skill in order to perform. For dancers, there is a specific esthetic involved. I’m sure it’s brutal; it’s the same for wrestlers who endure very strict weight requirements (I knew more than a few male wrestlers in high school; bulimia was commonplace, and encouraged by coaches).
The point is, those of us who choose to make our life in art do so with our eyes open. Some of us, like the author, make a great success of it.

Last edited 11 months ago by Allison Barrows
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

Good observations.
Although a lifelong interest, i only started painting seriously after taking early retirement. I liken gaining traction in the art world to trying to climb a brick wall, using just fingernails for leverage.
Success is, of course, always relative. Just getting shown to begin with is a real achievement. Financially secure, i’m not dependent on patronage from individuals or galleries so i’m free to explore where my work takes me. Can’t imagine what it must be like for the thousands of art school graduates churned out every year, all presumably hoping for a career in their chosen field.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
11 months ago

Good observations.
Although a lifelong interest, i only started painting seriously after taking early retirement. I liken gaining traction in the art world to trying to climb a brick wall, using just fingernails for leverage.
Success is, of course, always relative. Just getting shown to begin with is a real achievement. Financially secure, i’m not dependent on patronage from individuals or galleries so i’m free to explore where my work takes me. Can’t imagine what it must be like for the thousands of art school graduates churned out every year, all presumably hoping for a career in their chosen field.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 months ago

The second paragraph can be said of anyone in the arts. We all – women and men – have to compete for attention, and that competition is fierce. Most writers, artists, musicians, and singers must have “day jobs”. Dancers, like athletes, rely on their strength, grace, and skill in order to perform. For dancers, there is a specific esthetic involved. I’m sure it’s brutal; it’s the same for wrestlers who endure very strict weight requirements (I knew more than a few male wrestlers in high school; bulimia was commonplace, and encouraged by coaches).
The point is, those of us who choose to make our life in art do so with our eyes open. Some of us, like the author, make a great success of it.

Last edited 11 months ago by Allison Barrows
Max Price
Max Price
11 months ago

“ A ballet career, however, is a gruelling one, and all dancers, particularly female ones, face the constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream.”
How and why particularly female dancers? I see this sentiment asserted often but I’m sceptical. Is it worse or do females not cope as well? Is it just political expediency to assert this? Is it just in the air and repeated?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Male ballet dancers rarely have to dance en pointe for any extended period, and, although they need to be physically fit, they are not continuously pressured into losing weight.

A Willis
A Willis
11 months ago

“Male dancers tend to have greater number of dancing days lost due to injury and might be at greater risk of injury from techniques such as lifts with female dancers.”
Steere, Dr. Karin; Duncan, Amanda; Johnstone, Kaitlyn; and Lux, Emma, “Low Back Injuries in Male Ballet Dancers: A Review of the Literature” (2017). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 36.
https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/ptsymposium/36

Last edited 11 months ago by A Willis
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago
Reply to  A Willis

Maybe they are not stoical enough 🙂

Last edited 11 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago
Reply to  A Willis

Maybe they are not stoical enough 🙂

Last edited 11 months ago by Linda Hutchinson
A Willis
A Willis
11 months ago

“Male dancers tend to have greater number of dancing days lost due to injury and might be at greater risk of injury from techniques such as lifts with female dancers.”
Steere, Dr. Karin; Duncan, Amanda; Johnstone, Kaitlyn; and Lux, Emma, “Low Back Injuries in Male Ballet Dancers: A Review of the Literature” (2017). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 36.
https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/ptsymposium/36

Last edited 11 months ago by A Willis
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

“How and why particularly female dancers?”
The “dancer” part at the end is a bit redundant.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

A strange article. She blames men for all the problems faced by ballet dancers but I’m not sure exactly who is guilty (other than Ballantine, apparently), and what they have done wrong.
She also claims “a woman can never, ever act the victim”. This is so patently untrue, an inversion of reality, that it’s bordering on ludicrous. Acting the victim and claiming victimisation are the epitome of women today and have been for several decades. This fact seems to have gone unnoticed by the writer.

Emily Riedel
Emily Riedel
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I agree, but I think the author was referring to the pressures on women, (or people, I might add) who perform within this art form. Having been to a conservatory, (not for dance) I can say that the pressure to shut up, work your ass off and take it is extremely high. Everything was performance based, everything you did was critiqued. Exhibiting stoicism through it all meant that you were a professional, not a whiner, fit to carry the banner of this sacred, classical art form. I don’t personally think that’s such a bad thing, but it can get out of control and cause damage, especially to young people.

Emily Riedel
Emily Riedel
11 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I agree, but I think the author was referring to the pressures on women, (or people, I might add) who perform within this art form. Having been to a conservatory, (not for dance) I can say that the pressure to shut up, work your ass off and take it is extremely high. Everything was performance based, everything you did was critiqued. Exhibiting stoicism through it all meant that you were a professional, not a whiner, fit to carry the banner of this sacred, classical art form. I don’t personally think that’s such a bad thing, but it can get out of control and cause damage, especially to young people.

Mindy Nagel
Mindy Nagel
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

All good points shared here. Also there are just far more females engaged in ballet training than males at every level. As a ballet student I saw boys with very poor natural facility for ballet and even worse technique awarded scholarships based solely on the fact that they were boys and schools need more boys. Then as an adult I saw men, again of questionable ability, accepted into companies and awarded roles simply because men were needed. There is no doubt that ballet is difficult and damaging for men’s bodies too and hiring is very competitive for men as well, but the standards are just lower for men because the talent pool is smaller.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Male ballet dancers rarely have to dance en pointe for any extended period, and, although they need to be physically fit, they are not continuously pressured into losing weight.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

“How and why particularly female dancers?”
The “dancer” part at the end is a bit redundant.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

A strange article. She blames men for all the problems faced by ballet dancers but I’m not sure exactly who is guilty (other than Ballantine, apparently), and what they have done wrong.
She also claims “a woman can never, ever act the victim”. This is so patently untrue, an inversion of reality, that it’s bordering on ludicrous. Acting the victim and claiming victimisation are the epitome of women today and have been for several decades. This fact seems to have gone unnoticed by the writer.

Mindy Nagel
Mindy Nagel
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

All good points shared here. Also there are just far more females engaged in ballet training than males at every level. As a ballet student I saw boys with very poor natural facility for ballet and even worse technique awarded scholarships based solely on the fact that they were boys and schools need more boys. Then as an adult I saw men, again of questionable ability, accepted into companies and awarded roles simply because men were needed. There is no doubt that ballet is difficult and damaging for men’s bodies too and hiring is very competitive for men as well, but the standards are just lower for men because the talent pool is smaller.

Max Price
Max Price
11 months ago

“ A ballet career, however, is a gruelling one, and all dancers, particularly female ones, face the constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream.”
How and why particularly female dancers? I see this sentiment asserted often but I’m sceptical. Is it worse or do females not cope as well? Is it just political expediency to assert this? Is it just in the air and repeated?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

The article sounds just like my career as a window cleaner, uncanny.

Last edited 11 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

Now I go cleanin’ windows to earn an honest bob
For a nosy parker it’s an interestin’ job
Now it’s a job that just suits me
A window cleaner you would be
If you can see what I can see
When I’m cleanin’ windows
Honeymoonin’ couples too
You should see them bill ‘n coo
You’d be surprised at things they do
When I’m cleanin’ windows

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

Oh the ukulele playing. The constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream and no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, you can never, ever “act the victim”

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

Oh the ukulele playing. The constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream and no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, you can never, ever “act the victim”

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

Did you also train as a medical student in a bawdy 1970’s hospital?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
11 months ago

Now I go cleanin’ windows to earn an honest bob
For a nosy parker it’s an interestin’ job
Now it’s a job that just suits me
A window cleaner you would be
If you can see what I can see
When I’m cleanin’ windows
Honeymoonin’ couples too
You should see them bill ‘n coo
You’d be surprised at things they do
When I’m cleanin’ windows

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

Did you also train as a medical student in a bawdy 1970’s hospital?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
11 months ago

The article sounds just like my career as a window cleaner, uncanny.

Last edited 11 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago

Why not do modern dance instead and avoid the needless foot pain ? I’ve seen good modern dance and ballet and prefer to watch modern dance.
Bragging about the supposedly “wonderful fact that the force of balancing en pointe is the equivalent to letting the full weight of a grand piano fall on a single toe” seems both wilfully stupid and unnecessary.
Ballet shoes seem rather reminiscent of Chinese foot binding. Only self-inflicted.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Perhaps in future people will wonder why this form of painful art is encouraged – just as we are astonished at the enthusiasm for castrati in former times.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

When my daughter was training, pointe meant mastery and a move into an aesthetic she loved. The Balanchine influence also pushes long limbs, short backs whereas in the past the women could also have longer backs and shorter limbs which puts less strain on the back.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

It’s a serious, good question because it relates to a lot of decision making by young girls and their decision making.

Based on a lot of personal experience and writings by females – women would rather follow the herd, and do what they are told is best (invariably by other women), and rather whinge and complain about it (usually blaming men) rather than take charge of their lives. Despite all the guff about strong women etc.

You need to start working on your little daughter from a young age, keep prompting her to think what she is doing, ask her what she really wants, and follow her own mind.
Incidentally, you need the dad to do that. Always. No matter how much feminism the mum spouts, if left to them their daughters will follow the beaten path and do whatever mum and society says.

Hence a lot of foot pain inducing dances but hardly any women playing video games or going to watch football, for instance.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

75% of the gamers I know are female – and I know a lot of gamers, so don’t generalise please. Plenty of women enjoy football as well, “hardly any” is massive hyperbole on your part.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

75% of the gamers I know are female – and I know a lot of gamers, so don’t generalise please. Plenty of women enjoy football as well, “hardly any” is massive hyperbole on your part.

David Jennings
David Jennings
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

this reminds me of the old joke that all of this could be avoided if ballet comapneis would only hire taller dancers.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Perhaps in future people will wonder why this form of painful art is encouraged – just as we are astonished at the enthusiasm for castrati in former times.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

When my daughter was training, pointe meant mastery and a move into an aesthetic she loved. The Balanchine influence also pushes long limbs, short backs whereas in the past the women could also have longer backs and shorter limbs which puts less strain on the back.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

It’s a serious, good question because it relates to a lot of decision making by young girls and their decision making.

Based on a lot of personal experience and writings by females – women would rather follow the herd, and do what they are told is best (invariably by other women), and rather whinge and complain about it (usually blaming men) rather than take charge of their lives. Despite all the guff about strong women etc.

You need to start working on your little daughter from a young age, keep prompting her to think what she is doing, ask her what she really wants, and follow her own mind.
Incidentally, you need the dad to do that. Always. No matter how much feminism the mum spouts, if left to them their daughters will follow the beaten path and do whatever mum and society says.

Hence a lot of foot pain inducing dances but hardly any women playing video games or going to watch football, for instance.

David Jennings
David Jennings
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

this reminds me of the old joke that all of this could be avoided if ballet comapneis would only hire taller dancers.

Peter B
Peter B
11 months ago

Why not do modern dance instead and avoid the needless foot pain ? I’ve seen good modern dance and ballet and prefer to watch modern dance.
Bragging about the supposedly “wonderful fact that the force of balancing en pointe is the equivalent to letting the full weight of a grand piano fall on a single toe” seems both wilfully stupid and unnecessary.
Ballet shoes seem rather reminiscent of Chinese foot binding. Only self-inflicted.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
11 months ago

The idea that no matter how awful, no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, a woman can never, ever “act the victim”.

Is this what they call gaslighting?

blanda luciano
blanda luciano
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

This reminds me of the old joke that all of this might be prevented if ballet companies just hired taller dancers.

geometry dash

blanda luciano
blanda luciano
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

This reminds me of the old joke that all of this might be prevented if ballet companies just hired taller dancers.

geometry dash

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
11 months ago

The idea that no matter how awful, no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, a woman can never, ever “act the victim”.

Is this what they call gaslighting?

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
11 months ago

This was a great essay. One of my daughters is a dancer, and like the essay’s author has so far had far more training in modern dance than in classical ballet (though ballet remains her first love and chief goal), and mostly only female teachers and coaches along the way. The few male instructors have (in her words) been far less constructive, and far tougher (with one notable exception, a self-certified “male feminist”, who has been, well…. weirder). Her toughest female teacher and coach was a diminutive Cuban expat with a sharp temper and keen wit who was brutal to dancers who didn’t take the work seriously, but this same teacher, who came out of the Balanchine school, also rewarded work and built up the girls she coached, and tried to teach them mental toughness. My daughter credits this teacher with much of her own success.
The dance world is very tough, and the ballet world is very prone to a snootiness that exceeds the normal bounds of esprit de corps. But my daughter (so far) wouldn’t trade it – the dance itself is the reward.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
11 months ago

This was a great essay. One of my daughters is a dancer, and like the essay’s author has so far had far more training in modern dance than in classical ballet (though ballet remains her first love and chief goal), and mostly only female teachers and coaches along the way. The few male instructors have (in her words) been far less constructive, and far tougher (with one notable exception, a self-certified “male feminist”, who has been, well…. weirder). Her toughest female teacher and coach was a diminutive Cuban expat with a sharp temper and keen wit who was brutal to dancers who didn’t take the work seriously, but this same teacher, who came out of the Balanchine school, also rewarded work and built up the girls she coached, and tried to teach them mental toughness. My daughter credits this teacher with much of her own success.
The dance world is very tough, and the ballet world is very prone to a snootiness that exceeds the normal bounds of esprit de corps. But my daughter (so far) wouldn’t trade it – the dance itself is the reward.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
11 months ago

“Swan Lake” with men? Surely not?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
11 months ago

“Swan Lake” with men? Surely not?

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
10 months ago

I would be interested to know if ‘modern’ dancers also feel the same pressure to be thin, best, dedicated, perfect etc? I suspect that some of the issues are not limited to classical ballet, and that many young women impose these competitive pressures on themselves, as they undoubtedly do in many other spheres of life. Don’t think we can blame it all on Balanchine

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
10 months ago

I would be interested to know if ‘modern’ dancers also feel the same pressure to be thin, best, dedicated, perfect etc? I suspect that some of the issues are not limited to classical ballet, and that many young women impose these competitive pressures on themselves, as they undoubtedly do in many other spheres of life. Don’t think we can blame it all on Balanchine

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
10 months ago

Rosie Kay often substitutes the word ‘dance’ for the word ‘ballet’. Kay should have been honest and made it clear that the extreme physical, diet and sexual demands are for a form of dance that is subsidised and patronised because it is the supposed highest form of European culture. Kay also does not make it clear that she is not talking about excelling at dance but about having a professional career in dance.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

I would rather remove my spleen with a blunt knife than have to endure so much as a nano second of watching ballet, let alone actually paying so to do.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
11 months ago

Can we watch?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
11 months ago

Can we watch?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

I would rather remove my spleen with a blunt knife than have to endure so much as a nano second of watching ballet, let alone actually paying so to do.