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Tattoos and Piercings on Ballet Dancers?


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Poll: Tattos and Piercings on Ballet Dancers: (104 member(s) have cast votes)

What's your opinion?

  1. Love 'em! (4 votes [3.85%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.85%

  2. Hate 'em (82 votes [78.85%])

    Percentage of vote: 78.85%

  3. Couldn't care less. (18 votes [17.31%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.31%

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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 11:33 AM

The topic got prompted by comments on the visible tattoos of dancers in the ABT City Center Season.

I'm also of an older mindset on this. A dancer I worked with in 1996 and again in 1999 showed up after that hiatus with a very colorful, very visible tattoo on his arm. I was so taken aback that even before I said hello, I burst out, "OH MY GOD YOU GOT A TATTOO. CAN THAT BE COVERED WITH MAKEUP?"

So body modifications - love 'em or hate 'em?

#2 carbro

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 11:41 AM

Just guess how I voted!

Maybe "Hate 'em" is a mite too strong, but my choice was clear for reasons previously stated on the current ABT thread.

#3 Farrell Fan

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 12:48 PM

I answered that I couldn't care less, because the fact is that whenever tattoos have been mentioned on this board, it's come as a surprise to me. I never notice them.

#4 sz

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 12:52 PM

They're distracting.

#5 Helene

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 02:26 PM

I don't hate 'em if I can't see 'em on stage.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 02:45 PM

...can't imagine Marie Taglioni with a tatoo...and there's always the risk of being visible, even with a good make up.... :dry:

#7 vipa

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:04 PM

I don't hate 'em if I can't see 'em on stage.


I agree. If the choreographer said that a particular tatoo worked for a piece it would be ok. Other than that it's like altering a costume.

#8 SanderO

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:05 PM

Of course it depends on the tattoo. Today we see all sorts of them on all sorts of people. Body mods have been mainstreamed to a large extent. Most of the larger ones and more visible ones are not attractive to me and some are actually repulsive. That's a strong word, but some body mods are more than mildly unattractive or even very unattractive but can make me have a visceral negative reaction. I can recall being served breakfast in a diner once by a waitress covered in tatts and metal in her face. I lost my appetite, literally.

Some tatts are completely inoffensive and by themselves "pretty", usually when small and discrete. But the idea of doing that to your flesh seems odd to me, especially the permanent nature of them.

Sometimes I see what I think is an attractive person and then see their ink and think, why did they "ruin" themselves? Obviously, they think it an improvement and probably can't even imagine how someone would think the reverse?

There's a TV show called LA Ink and it's advertised on a huge billboard on the west side highway. The woman looks like she made herself into a carnival show "freak" and in a sense you can't see her without being assaulted by all her tattoos.

The more extreme the bod mods, the more I find them offensive. And even when they are small, discrete and "attractive" in themselves, they don't seem to add anything to the human body, they're more like putting a pretty postage stamp on human flesh that you can't get off.

But I'm with Helene, if I can't see them, then I don't care.

#9 carbro

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:14 PM

Oh, if I can't see them, how do I even know they exist to be objected to? If I don't know they're there, it's a non-issue.

But more and more skin is being exposed these days. Women's midriffs are not a rare sight on the ballet stage, and I've often considered the likelihood that if I were a member of a ballet company, the scar running the full length of one side of my middle would (and should) immediately eliminate some ballets from my rep :crying: . And a scar is 1) skin-toned, therefore slightly more innocuous; and 2) in most cases :dry: involuntary.

#10 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:23 PM

It depends on the ballet or dance, the tattoo itself, and the dancer. I don't want to see any tattoos on ballerinas, but some of the men in some of those ABT 'Swan Lakes' and 'Sleeping Beauty'(s) could perhaps improve the situation with tattoos since so much is gaudy already, and not of the most exquisite variety either-Cornejo, Gomes, and Corella might make good Desires and Siegfrieds with tattoos, and even the Hallberg might be able to do okay with some of them. I don't know if Peter Martins tattooed for 'Tzigane' might have added a dash of something ethnic to his partnering of Ms. Farrell, it might not have hurt. But since this is mostly about permanent tattoos, tattoos as part of the costuming itself is bound to evolve eventually if all this many guys have got them. Probably they should be camouflaged as much as possible until such time as they are used instead of garments, as I've seen in some performance artists like Karen Finley. I wouldn't like to see anybody in 'Jewels' with tattoos.

#11 dirac

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:43 PM

...can't imagine Marie Taglioni with a tattoo...


I think that sums it up pretty well, cubanmiamiboy.

If I don't know they're there, it's a non-issue.


Quite so.

I don’t care for tattoos and don’t understand why people get them, unless you're one of those Russki gangsters on view in ‘Eastern Promises.’ (They looked great on Viggo, though.) On stage they’re less noticeable, but I still don't care to see them. I suppose in some modern works they wouldn’t look strange or out of place.

#12 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 04:25 PM

I've often considered the likelihood that if I were a member of a ballet company, the scar running the full length of one side of my middle would (and should) immediately eliminate some ballets from my rep :dry: .


That seems extreme to me and almost like the purity demanded with monochromatic cygnets, white ballets, etc.. I can't really think of any ballerina whom I thought a great dancer being rightly eliminated from a ballet due to a scar like that, although it's a matter of personal preference of course; to some, it's going to seem sexist of me not to mind the occasional male tattoo (but not prefer it unless the production already seemed somewhat moribund or superficial) and never want to see a tattoo on a ballerina. A tattooed Coppelia--now that sounds hideous. And anything in 'The Nutcracker' too. That POB 'Caligula' with a tattoed hero doesn't sound too bad, though.

For myself personally, I've never even wanted a temporary one, much less any kind of piercing. Worst to me is cheek piercing, which borders on self-flagellation.

#13 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 04:33 PM

If I were to find that my dancer was distractingly tattooed, it would be, "Come, my dear, time for you to learn the wonders of greasepaint and powder, and if that doesn't work, fishskin."

#14 kfw

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 04:43 PM

Most of the larger ones and more visible ones are not attractive to me and some are actually repulsive.

I find most tattoos repulsive, especially the larger ones with yellow and green ink. I can understand the aesthetic in macho, working class guys, but otherwise on an aesthetic level I think they're in bad taste, and on a psychological level they seem to me on par with wearing a baseball cap backwards. There are ways to truly distinguish oneself.

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 04:48 PM

And then there's:

"Patty, do you have a chrysanthemum tattooed on your right lower cheek?"

"No, only a tiny little rosebud!"

"Uh-oh! You may want to look at that again sometime."


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