Leigh Witchel

Tattoos and Piercings on Ballet Dancers?

Tattos and Piercings on Ballet Dancers:   108 members have voted

  1. 1. What's your opinion?

    • Love 'em!
      4
    • Hate 'em
      86
    • Couldn't care less.
      18

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132 posts in this topic

So what about pink hair, or mohawks, or both? a distraction and out of place in ballet. I wonder if any companies have any official policy about these things???
What about chest hair? After all, this subject was precipitated by "Clear," Stanton Welch's bare-chested epic. My eyesight is not great, but everyone looked hairless. Every once in a while some oldtimer will recall NYCB dancer Afshin Mofid's mesmerizing performance in "Afternoon of a Faun." IMO, his modest chest hair had something to do with it. But in a cast of hairless men, it might not be fair.

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What about chest hair?

I've always kept my chest hairs but i have only a few in the middle of chest and a little line going down from my navel.This is nice to see but i admit that more hair on one's chest and even legs are unfair.Imagine an Acteon with much hair on his chest and legs and even worse....ON HIS BACK!It's awful!the Bolshoj corps of ballet danced last year "La Fille du Pharaon": some dancers were really hairy and the costume was a typical short egyptian one....it was a bad sight really!

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You can't have a tattoo or unusual piercing (at least one that can't be covered) if you're going to be a ballet dancer, at least in one of the major companies. Other types of dance or smaller, less formal companies may be an exception, but my view is that if a choreographer wants a tattoo, that is what temporaries are for.

Include me in the "hate 'em" in ballet crowd. I bought into the ethic that a dancer's body is a temple. And my feeling about tats is probably why I've never cottoned to Marcovici no matter how good he dances at times. I just can't get past that tear drop.

I always thought that was a mole or birthmark.

Regarding body hair, that is not something one chooses to have; it is there naturally, so I do not have a problem with it, although a close trim is usually a good idea, as that will usually keep the hair from being distracting onstage.

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I love topics like this -- the chance to be an AD for a day. All that power! :devil:

As with tattoos, I think of male body hair hair as an aspect of costuming (and lighting, too, I suppose, following Hans's suggestion).

If this were Shakespeare, it would be a no-no for Ariel, but okay (maybe even desirable) for Caliban. Apollo, no; Hercules, yes. The Poet in Sylphides, no; Othello, okay. Eros no; Aminta maybe; Orion yes.

Odette with chest hair is okay if it's the Trocks. But not okay for Siegfried, should he remove his shirt.

What about the Faun in Nijinsky's version of the Debussy ballet?

To generalize:

No or very little hair: idealized ballets, abstract ballets, ballets in which corps uniformity is an important element, ballets of adolescent love (eg. Romeo), ballets involving sexlessness (eg. Puck) or ambiguous sexuality.

Hair okay: certain characters in dramatic ballets, especially when unidealized raw sexuality is called for. Or street funkiness (some Tharp, McIntyre, Forsythe).

Decisions, decisions. :dunno:

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I didn't vote in the poll because none of the categories seemed to fit my view. Fine in contemporary or modern ballet but they'd better be covered up for classical or romantic

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I voted CCL as the question was specific: tattoos and piercings on ballet dancers, no mention of during performance.

Onstage, if visible, I find them a distraction. Offstage, the dancer should do as s/he wishes; it ain't my business. But please cover them up onstage.

So maybe I should have voted "Hate 'em"?

Chest hair: I noticed in the Wheeldonfest last week that Tyler Angle had impressive chest hair. No one else did. I found it distracting. I have nothing against (male) chest hair. Rather the opposite; I find it makes a great cushion. But onstage a single dancer with a hairy chest among the hairless stands out for reasons having nothing to do with the ballet being performed. I don't feel this way about dance but that probably has to do with the less "formal" nature of dance as opposed to ballet.

I quite like a beautifully done tattoo. The Japanese have made an art form of it as have certain NBA players. Unfortunately the majority of tattoos just look like body scribble.

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I voted CCL as the question was specific: tattoos and piercings on ballet dancers, no mention of during performance.

Onstage, if visible, I find them a distraction. Offstage, the dancer should do as s/he wishes; it ain't my business. But please cover them up onstage.

So maybe I should have voted "Hate 'em"?

I did the same, for the same reason.

I think the poll might have benefited from a few more categories. Given the options, it seemed the most accurate response.

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I never saw the Marcovici tear-drop, but will look for it next time. Where is it, please? . . .

Anyway, the answer is no, but I'd like to see Marcovici's anyway.

You can see it faintly here, on his left cheekbone. I've never noticed it from the audience or even on the few occasions I've spotted him in public. But it can probably be pretty well covered by makeup, touching up between entrances, if necessary.

Why not require dancers to have shaved bodies?
At least half of them remove (by shaving, waxing or other methods) leg and underarm hair. Those would be the women, and we just take that for granted.

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I voted CCL as the question was specific: tattoos and piercings on ballet dancers, no mention of during performance.

Onstage, if visible, I find them a distraction. Offstage, the dancer should do as s/he wishes; it ain't my business. But please cover them up onstage.

So maybe I should have voted "Hate 'em"?

I did the same, for the same reason.

I think the poll might have benefited from a few more categories. Given the options, it seemed the most accurate response.

I opt for simplicity :devil: Given that we're asking the question on Ballet Talk, "onstage" is implicit.

Parenthetically I was pretty shocked by Radetsky tonight in Clear. I mean this as a compliment, I think, but he's gymmed himself into looking like a porn star.

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I opt for simplicity :devil: Given that we're asking the question on Ballet Talk, "onstage" is implicit.

I guess aurora and I opted for clarity. The (your) question posed was " .. body modifications - love 'em or hate 'em?"

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Ballet is like a fairy tale: would you depict a prince as hairy,pierced everywhere with spiky hair and rude ways?That can be Shrek but that's the only case.And what about a dark,tatooed and leather dressed princess chewing gums and driving a motorbike?:-)

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On tattoos and piercings:

Too much information for the ballet stage.

Distracting from the task at hand.

That's why I voted 'hate 'em'.

Offstage it's a totally private matter.

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he's gymmed himself into looking like a porn star.

Wow... :angel_not:

There are worse images I could think of :wub:

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he's gymmed himself into looking like a porn star.

Wow... :wub:

There are worse images I could think of :)

WOW!! :angel_not:

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Parenthetically I was pretty shocked by Radetsky tonight in Clear. I mean this as a compliment, I think, but he's gymmed himself into looking like a porn star.
Maybe a modelling contract is more what he -- and others who bulk up -- had in mind? :angel_not: Seems like there are an increasing number of print ads for non-dance products and services that use sleek, toned, and seriously air-brushed dancers in scanty dress to catch the eye.

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he's gymmed himself into looking like a porn star.

Wow... :wub:

There are worse images I could think of :)

WOW!! :angel_not:

Well, this will lead to novelties just like the other adornments. A ballet dancer who would want 'pornlook' would seem to be something of an oxymoron, and in one case from the past, a tautology--the best-looking ones have enough of it already, but in graceful form; and add-ons are going to be vulgar, like Carmela Soprano's ostentatious ring. I've only seen a few porn stars that came anywhere near having a look that most ballet dancers would want to emulate (maybe no more than two)--it's often a half-wit, vacant, slack-jawed look which is certainly not going to work very long unless the whole domain sells out and there's an 'everybody can do ballet' phenomenon (oh well, there probably will be that kind of thing.)

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A ballet dancer who would want 'pornlook' would seem to be something of an oxymoron

I think of porn as reductive and art as transcendent, and for that reason I think of the two as antithetical. In the same way, while I find "dirty dancing" a turn off, beautifully danced classical steps can be a turn on, precisely because they're also so much more.

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To continue a bit - Lincoln Kirstein wrote about Balanchine's dancers as being angelic, and he meant in a broad sense as beyond human needs and desires. Radetsky's new gymmed-out body (you could make carrot salad on his abs) is the opposite - the idea of the dancer as the perfect specimen of sensuality. For a lot of contemporary repertory, one could argue that his look may very well suit it better.

And he's got quite the tattoo on his shoulder.

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A bit late to the discussion.... I would find tattoos (particularly those that you can see from a distance) to be distracting. I already get distracted enough! For classics such as Sleeping Beauty or Giselle, they would be totally out of place.

Some atheletes cover up their tattoos when competing (I'm thinking of gymnast Blaine Wilson, and soccer star David Beckham). Beckham wears long sleeves to cover up his tattoos (which obviously would not be an option for dancers - unless sleeves were part of the costume) and I think Wilson used skin-colored tape over his tattoo on his ankle (maybe a bandage or something like that). But I think for a dancer, it would be much more difficult to cover it up... (not to mention that whatever method used would have to be so seamless as to not draw even more attention to the tattoo/cover up).

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To continue a bit - Lincoln Kirstein wrote about Balanchine's dancers as being angelic, and he meant in a broad sense as beyond human needs and desires. Radetsky's new gymmed-out body (you could make carrot salad on his abs) is the opposite - the idea of the dancer as the perfect specimen of sensuality. For a lot of contemporary repertory, one could argue that his look may very well suit it better.

And he's got quite the tattoo on his shoulder.

Oh no! I was so startled by Radetsky's deltoids that I completely missed the tatoo!

I voted "love 'em" by the way, because I do. I suppose I would find it a little disconcerting if Odette emerged from the wings with tattoos from wrist to shoulder, but at the end of the day I probably wouldn't find them as irritating and distracting as those feather earmuffs she always seems to sport. They make everyone look 50.

And speaking of making everyone look 50, I wish male dancers could ditch those shellacked back quasi-pompadours that I gather are de rigeur. Yeah, I know it gets their hair out of their eyes, but nobody looks good in them, whereas everyone looks great in bed-head hair, even Prince Siegfried and especially Apollo. And if it's thinning a bit more on top than one would ideally like, just shave it off and be done with it. It's fiercely sexy in a way that a comb-over just never will be and is less distracting than wondering if the carefully arranged remnant of a formerly glorious head of hair is going to fly out of place with the next tour de basque. And can we have some facial hair too, please, while we're updating everyone's look -- De Luz looked great in his R+J goatee (fake or not) and I kind of hoped he could keep it for the rest of the season.

The older I get the younger I want everyone else to look. :wink:

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I probably wouldn't find them as irritating and distracting as those feather earmuffs she always seems to sport. They make everyone look 50.

Couldn’t agree more. I don’t know why the ballerinas don’t stage tantrums, the way Sally Field does in Soapdish when she has to wear a turban. (“Who am I? Gloria [expletive deleted] Swanson?”)

It's fiercely sexy in a way that a comb-over just never will be

A comb-over is not sexy, I agree (although General Lee was resorting to it in his forties and still looked very handsome, I must say), but personally I don’t find baldness sexy in general, it’s just – well, they’re bald, that’s all, poor fellows. I suppose if you’ve lost enough hair you might as well remove it all instead of going to desperate and possibly embarrassing measures, but I admit to some perplexity at this whole bald-is-hot thing.

A bit late to the discussion.... I would find tattoos (particularly those that you can see from a distance) to be distracting.

I think so too, GretchenStar, and welcome to the board, incidentally.

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