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

I've never noticed tattoos on ballet dancers, but that's probably more a reflection of where I'm sitting/the seats I can afford.

lol /*sob* :dunno: / :off topic:

I don't mind tattoos per se, but I have an aversion to them at formal occasions. I just don't think tattoos and evening gowns mix. They cheapen the look. On the other hand, a tuxedo covers up the majority of tattoos. I suppose if men's formalwear exposed tattoos, I wouldn't like it either. I don't like ankle bracelets or anklets either, especially those worn under panty hose.

Ugh! I think I'm turning into my parents.

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I don't mind tattoos per se, but I have an aversion to them at formal occasions. I just don't think tattoos and evening gowns mix. They cheapen the look. On the other hand, a tuxedo covers up the majority of tattoos. I suppose if men's formalwear exposed tattoos, I wouldn't like it either. I don't like ankle bracelets or anklets either, especially those worn under panty hose.

Ugh! I think I'm turning into my parents.

I actually agree. Though if there are so MANY tattoos that they become a look (like full sleeves), i actually mind it less than a few largish obvious ones peeking out from elegant clothing in a way that just sort of haphazard.

you can see my tattoo in some of my wedding photos though and I really don't think it detracts from the look (which was Victorian)

And yeah tattoos under stockings are ugly. I suppose the solution is to just get backseams tattooed on ones legs! (i know someone with this).

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Ugh! I think I'm turning into my parents.

Yours, or maybe mine. :) I've already made that transition.

And yeah tattoos under stockings are ugly. I suppose the solution is to just get backseams tattooed on ones legs! (i know someone with this).
I remember pulling on seamed tights as a little girl, the daunting challenge of getting the seams absolutely straight. I like the idea of seam tats, and I like its reference to the generation of WWII women who, unable to buy silk stockings, used to draw seams on their legs with makeup.

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I like its reference to the generation of WWII women who, unable to buy silk stockings, used to draw seams on their legs with makeup.
If the British situation comedy Are You Being Served? is to be believed, this was still a practice among ladies working in London department stores during the high-inflation 70s. The young saleslady learned it from her WW II-generation supervisor.

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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?

:angry2::P The results so far of the poll, speak for themselves. I do not like Tattoo or piercings, maybe it is myage and generation. I think it is totally out of place on a Dancer, especially in classical work. It is very hard to cover them, and as even a natural skin tone, is "whitened"out in things like Swan Lake or white ballets, these are definately a NO NO. It can even cause a problem if Dancers sun bathe, and get red or brown, spoils the overall impression. Imagine Odette with "my prince" tattoed on her arm.

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Conceptually, at least the "personalizing" of one's body seems out of place in such a body conscious art form where the ideal is so well understood and so often a goal of the dancer. Even the corps members are often expected to "look" alike and move in synchonicity... why would an AD want a corp sporting all sorts of individual ID tags?

If they bod mods can be hidden, covered etc. then they would not be distracting or attention grabbing, which seems to be their purpose...to send some message. Those messages have no place in ballet... and probably not contemporary dance, unless the "character" protrayal calls for this... a sailor... "biker" or so forth.

But Odette... Giselle or Aurora? no way Jose.

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I like its reference to the generation of WWII women who, unable to buy silk stockings, used to draw seams on their legs with makeup.
If the British situation comedy Are You Being Served? is to be believed, this was still a practice among ladies working in London department stores during the high-inflation 70s. The young saleslady learned it from her WW II-generation supervisor.

I thought of that episode just as I read Carbro's post....

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I suppose if it can be hidden under costumes, then, fine, go for it and celebrate the individuality of having multiple inked needles being jabbed in your skin (I hate tattoos, if you couldn't tell :beg: ). However, if there is even a slight risk that it MIGHT show under a costume or the costume won't cover it...then, I hope the dancer would think very carefully about whether his/her individuality is worth the stress of applying makeup, adjusting costumes, etc...

If you want to celebrate yourself of whatever, take up painting. On canvases. Who knows which tattooed dancer is hiding their inner Picasso. :beg:

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In the youtube "From russia with love" Osmolkina had a tatt on her right arm when dancing the section of Diane and Acteon. I assumed it was intended as part of the barbaric aspect of these mythological beings? ( just by the by her partner let go of her when at the height of the lift and she appeared to be floating - amazing)

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I know many ballet dancers with tattoos, while it is a personal way to express themselves, they cover them up with body makeup during performances. On stage you would never know they had them, and when the costume comes off, you would be amazed at how many they have: arms, legs, backs and chest. I do not mind tatoos, but I do think it takes away from the performance and artistic look the dancer is potraying, if it is not covered up with body makeup.

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If a dancer chooses to get a tatt that's up to them as its not the 19th century!! The few dancers that do get them are usually sensible enough to put them in a discreet location which 95% of the time will be covered by a costume, so no big deal there then.

Recently I became aware that one of the male Royal Ballet dancers had a tattoo located in the small of his back that was rather attractive looking. A couple of days later he featured in a new ballet with a costume that revealed it to those who knew where to look for it or sat close enough to the stage, but given the nature of the piece it added to his performance in a very subtle way as the bodyart is an extension of his personality as much as the way he chooses to dance.

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I personally don't care for tatts and bod mods, but I believe that if someone wants to do this it should be their choice, it's their body. However, I believe that dancers in ballet are expected to conform to some rather rigid standards and one of them is personal self expression. I think this should be confined to movement as opposed to style. And yes dancers in story ballet become characters and use styling and costume and make up to create these illusions. A tattoo could conceivably fit into a character, but most of them it would be a distraction. I suppose since most of them are covered by make up the prevailing view is that they are not appropriate in ballet at this moment in time.

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Hum...analizing the poll..."love them, hate them or couldn't care less"...are we talking about tatts themselves or dancers showing tatts...?. (Anyway I do really like'em, but I think the context of the question changes a bit in each of the two variants...)

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Showing them. What we can't see is none of our business :flowers:

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What we can't see is none of our business :flowers:

This made me smile -- there's an excellent modern dancer in town (Ellie Sandstrom) who has a wave tattooed on her upper back between her shoulder blades. Those of us who watch her dance can see it in a way that she never will.

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Showing them. What we can't see is none of our business :flowers:

If so according to the poll there is a 3.80 % of BT's who actually love to see the tatts onstage...and by that I must assume they would include the exposure in any and every role possible...(Aurora...Giselle...The Sylph...etc...)...Hmmm...interesting stuff!!

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Thanks, Cristian, for reminding us about the poll. I'd forgotten that it was there.

I've been trying to imagine really good tattoos for the characters you mention. Perhaps we should have a competition.

Why not, for instance, include tattoos as part of the plot lines of the major serious ballets?

Giselle could sport an "I LUV LOYS" tattoo. It would have to be covered up for most of Act I, of course, until Albrecht is exposed and Giselle goes mad. While unpinning her hair, she could also tear at her dress to reveal the tattoo. Imagine the villagers' mimed responses to THAT. :o:flowers::angry2:

Aurora, possibly, would GET a tattoo in between the Awakening Scene and the Wedding. Perhaps Aurora and the Prince could slip out to get matching tattoos. What should they be? I wonder.

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Aurora, possibly, would GET a tattoo in between the Awakening Scene and the Wedding. Perhaps Aurora and the Prince could slip out to get matching tattoos. What should they be? I wonder.

Matching rose tattoos (non Tennesse Williams of course) After all Aurora sure shows a fondness for flowers in Act 1, no?

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Seriously, ballet dancers need to take extremely good care of their bodies, tattoos and piercings are unnecessary health risks, distracting, and ugly. I think if we put tattoos in ballets, it would ruin the elegance and make the ballets seem much more modern.

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Seriously, ballet dancers need to take extremely good care of their bodies, tattoos and piercings are unnecessary health risks, distracting, and ugly. I think if we put tattoos in ballets, it would ruin the elegance and make the ballets seem much more modern.

I have no argument with the idea that visible tattoos don't belong in classical ballet.

However your reasoning causes me to want to respond. For one thing, tattoos are less "modern" than the extreme extensions that are seen in ballet today (tattoos have been around in western society since the 19th c at least).

Moreover, there are very few health risks associated with piercings or tattoos provided you go to a clean shop and take care of them while they are healing (which is pretty easy and minimal).

As for ugly, that's merely your aesthetic judgment. For one thing, not all tattoos and piercings are the same. Some are ugly, some are strikingly beautiful. Just because you find them ugly doesn't make them so. Unless you fancy yourself a universal arbiter of taste. Personally I think people who walk around in track suits in public (on airplanes!) are hideous.

And don't forget, there are people who don't see the beauty in ballet (though I'd imagine not on this board), something you might want to consider before you issue blanket statements on things which are ugly.

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Personally I think people who walk around in track suits in public (on airplanes!) are hideous.

Yes but you can take the track suit off. Tattoos aren't so easily got rid of.

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tattoos are less "modern" than the extreme extensions that are seen in ballet today (tattoos have been around in western society since the 19th c at least).

On stevedores and sailors mostly, as way of showing pride in masculine strength and courage. Not on pretty girls.

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tattoos are less "modern" than the extreme extensions that are seen in ballet today (tattoos have been around in western society since the 19th c at least).

On stevedores and sailors mostly, as way of showing pride in masculine strength and courage. Not on pretty girls.

I didn't realize we were speaking exclusively of female dancers, especially since most of the examples of tattooed dancers have been male :dunno:

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Aurora, I wasn’t speaking only of female dancers, just trying to give an example of how we didn’t use to see (or very rarely saw) tattoos on people of both genders and all walks of life. We agree that they shouldn’t be seen in classical ballet. But to my mind the ballet vocabulary always reflects its aristocratic origins. Tattoos come out a different culture and aesthetic, and to my mind they clash.

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