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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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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 06:46 PM

Please, can we keep the ballet in its traditional ways...? If we start getting used to tatooed Giselles, what's next...? we might as well eliminate the tutus so we can start seeing hyperextended developes and athletc 6 pm arabesques in full display...Lovely! :dry:

#17 bart

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 07:36 PM

I voted "hate 'em," but have reconsidered. Can one take back a vote?

On stage, a tatoo is really a kind of costuming. If the costume is appropriate to the ballet, why not? Papeetepatrick, with his reference to Tzigane, has convinced me. On stage, discreet tattoos can call attention to something different about the character, suggesting something exotic and slightly dangerous. (Sadly, they no longer do this in real life. Most of the time nowadays they seem to be the badge of dullness, attention-seeking and/or conformity.)

For some reason my thoughts went to The Man She Must Marry in Lilac Garden. I always wonder: where did he come from? how did he make his money? why is she being forced to marry him? A small tatoo (on the hand, for instance) would make this figure even more mysterious and ominous. And why not Ali in Corsaire? Carabosse, Rothbart, or Katchei? The Queen and her followers in The Cage? One or two of the sailors in Fancy Free? And then there's Gamzatti (but not Nikiya) in Bayadere. Gamache (but not Basiliio) in Don Q. Abderakham (but not Jean de Brienne) in Raymonda. The Pearly King and Queen in Union Jack. Oberon, Puck or even Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream. The Strip Tease Girl in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.

:crying: Why not insert a drunken visit to a tattoo parlour into Prodigal Son, one more way-station on his road to degradation? :dry:

For most ballets, however -- for instance, Agon, with its strict black-and-white costume guidelines, or Liebeslieder Walzer, abstract ballets without characterizations, or the ballets blancs -- the dancers should be tatoo-free.

#18 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 08:22 PM

:dry: Why not insert a drunken visit to a tattoo parlour into Prodigal Son,

:crying:

#19 carbro

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 08:40 PM

On stage, a tatoo is really a kind of costuming. If the costume is appropriate to the ballet, why not?

Ah, yes, "IF." By all means, if . . . But why not a temporary, so that when the Second Sailor (wearing at t-shirt, so we can see it) dances Concerto Barocco the next night (also in short sleeves) he doesn't spoil the pristine look of the celestial slow movement?

An intermission group discussed that and other aspects of costuming. One woman complained that Paloma's earrings in Clear were at odds with her simple beige bra top and belled jazz pants, and shouldn't someone have prevented her from wearing them? Well, as far as I know, earrings are considered as much a part of the costuming as any other article, and whatever Paloma wore on her ears (and escaped my notice) was probably the choreographer's choice.

As a point of clarification, the ABT dancer's tattoo was approximately the size of the lid of take-out coffee, and there were several across the back, each only slightly smaller.

#20 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 08:48 PM

Ah, yes, "IF." By all means, if . . . But why not a temporary, so that when the Second Sailor (wearing at t-shirt, so we can see it) dances Concerto Barocco the next night (also in short sleeves) he doesn't spoil the pristine look of the celestial slow movement?


I'm almost sure that's what Bart meant, as would I. A permanent tattoo is not costuming anyway, as it is a real-life tattoo thereafter even had it been made for 'Fancy Free'. This couldn't happen, and I definitely think temporary tattoos for 'Fancy Free' are an excellent idea--wouldn't even be surprised if they hadn't already been used. Ditto 'Slaughter on 10th Avenue' for the men, and some other things.

For the permanent tattoos you're talking about, I think they ought to be covered and camouflaged if they do not coincide with very specific kinds of tough guy characters of the kind bart and I are clearly talking about, although he's added some character roles I haven't had time to think about yet. I don't really like the idea of the Striptease Girl in 'Slaughter' having tattoos personally--because she needs to be a ballet-stripper, not a Coney Island or Bourbon Street stripper. Ali in 'Corsaire' a temporary tattoo--yes, if he could dance it at a Tattoo Level.

#21 bobbi

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 02:46 AM

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.

#22 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 07:29 AM

Well, at least on Ballet Talk, there seems to be a rather strong vote against, with a few neutral.

Anyone out there love 'em or think they're hot on a ballet dancer?

#23 papeetepatrick

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 07:44 AM

Well, at least on Ballet Talk, there seems to be a rather strong vote against, with a few neutral.

Anyone out there love 'em or think they're hot on a ballet dancer?


I never saw the Marcovici tear-drop, but will look for it next time. Where is it, please? I think it would look good on him and offer a nice dissonance to his prettiness of rococo style that reminds you of the Ile St. Louis, Carpeaux, and Canova, among other 18th century expressions. In the 80s, shortly after her Playboy spread, the 50s-era starlet and Howard Hughes-heiress Terry Moore, who was born with the world's best genes, had a $1000 diamond teardrop she wore under one eye. We thought that was 'de trop' at the time, but now look back on it with more tolerance. :dry: here she is at 74, sans teardrop, looks like she might hire Philip Marlowe for an investigation and change the story around a good bit later:

http://www.imdb.com/...E..., Terry (I)

Does she look lovelier with this simpler and more natural look?

Anyway, the answer is no, but I'd like to see Marcovici's anyway. If a diamond teardrop, why not a tattoo teardrop? It sounds like the dancers want to do this anyway, and that's where the buck stops thus far, it seems (at least on the tattoo question.)

#24 SanderO

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 08:33 AM

These are personal self expression thingies...right? So what about pink hair, or mohawks, or both? All these fall into the category of self expression and one often sees someone will all of the above, hair, tatts and piercings.

When one is involved in a performance, cast in a role, you are essentially a blank canvas to fit into, some rather preconceived "standard". It's pretty clear what that is for dancers, but there is certainly some room for variation. Performers are expected to add a certain je ne c'est quoi to their role, but a body mod I would thing are what is sought.

This crowd seems to find them a distraction and out of place in ballet. I wonder if any companies have any official policy about these things???

#25 87Sigfried87

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 09:55 AM

When i was in the ballet school,among the first things they told us and our parents at the beginning of the first year was:"forget piercings,tatoos and don't change the colour of your hair!".Look is very important in ballet.I remember our teachers telling us even how to keep our hair.They told us we had to look like people from the 19th century.People of that period didn't have piercings,tatoos,colored-hair,spiky hair....so if we were undecided about changes in our look we just thought if a person from the past would have done that and decided consequently.The fact is: if you have to play Albrecht in Giselle,how can you have a modern look?then i have to say that at some auditions you are not taken if your apparel is not as they like.Tatoos are concerned.About girls i remember they were oblidged to keep long hair and perfectly combed in "chignon",without any single hair coming out.And then sober or without make up.This is just one of the things a dancer can't do in his life;-)

#26 Farrell Fan

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 10:26 AM

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.

#27 87Sigfried87

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 10:49 AM

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!

#28 SanderO

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 11:17 AM

Why not require dancers to have shaved bodies?

#29 Hans

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 11:23 AM

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.

#30 bart

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 11:44 AM

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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