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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%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#46 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 07:01 PM

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.

#47 Helene

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 10:48 PM

Not sweet little Charlie from Seattle :innocent:

#48 GretchenStar

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 09:48 AM

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).

#49 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 12:46 PM

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:

#50 dirac

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 02:46 PM

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.

#51 bart

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 03:51 PM

Yes, thanks for reviving this thread, GretchenStar. I suspect there are more opinions out there that need to be expressed. Please keep them coming :wink:

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.

One youngprincipal whose hair is thinning at top and front (and who shall be nameless) has lent his before and after photos, but not his name, to an ad campaign for a laser hair replacement sytem. (At least that's what I think it was. I can't find the clipping of the ad.) He keeps it short, and it looks great.

I agree that the gelled, slicked back look isn't as attractive as hair that's natural and just looks clean. But it sure beats those large, geometical shapes that many male dancers sported in the 70s. They were hairsprayed to death and were completely unyielding. The NYCB video of Four Temperaments has a few interesting examples of this.

The worst "bad hair" look in my recent experience was a principal dancing the lead in a beautifully romantic ballet. His slicked back hair, and his (real or uneal) razor-straight horizontal hairline, looked just like those videos of young Nureyev sporting a lacquered black wig in Laurencia. (Except I think Nureyev's had a widow's peak.)

One young corps dancer last weekend kept his hair thick and floppy. It did its own choreography, which distracted from the ensemble and from his own dancing. Not a lot, but I did notice.

About shaving the skull -- are there dancers today who have done this? And how does it look on stage and under the lights? I would think that this works better for some skin colors than others.

#52 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 06:34 PM

About shaving the skull -- are there dancers today who have done this? And how does it look on stage and under the lights? I would think that this works better for some skin colors than others.


Sigh ... You're probably right. I suspect that despite my wildest fantasies, most guys would probably look a bit too much like the goons in Prodigal Son. But closely cropped might work just fine ...

#53 aurora

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Posted 21 November 2007 - 06:43 PM

About shaving the skull -- are there dancers today who have done this? And how does it look on stage and under the lights? I would think that this works better for some skin colors than others.


Sigh ... You're probably right. I suspect that despite my wildest fantasies, most guys would probably look a bit too much like the goons in Prodigal Son. But closely cropped might work just fine ...


I dunno...with a bit of powder I think the shining would be minimal :wink:

better than a horridly receding hairline with longish hair *shudder*

#54 artspatron07

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 08:44 AM

While getting a tattoo or a piercing is a very individual decision, I see nothing wrong with having a female's ears singularly pierced or maybe a single pierced ear for a male. Call me old fashioned. Anything beyond that ( i.e. second cartilage ear piecing and/or other piercings and all tattoos ) lacks integrity and taste in my opinion.

#55 bart

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 09:11 AM

I would think a lot of this depends on how contemporary the look is supposed to be.

Are there company people who actually check the dancers out before they go on stage? I will never forget a Willi, long ago, who was wearing a wedding band. (I guess she was betrayed by her man after they got married. :thanks: ) And this was a major company.

#56 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 09:21 AM

If I recall correctly, the Joffrey's General Contract with AGMA made tattooing or other "body art" a violation of general conditions of employment. In the contract, pierced ears were OK, but in practice, if the dancer were to wear an earring, it had to be either a stud invisible to the audience, or a clasp-fastener secured with adhesive. Members who were scrupulous about wearing a plain wedding band, (only one I can think of right away) had to cover it with flesh-colored tape.

#57 Helene

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 11:38 AM

That Wili must have been Swedish, where one gold band meant engagement, and a second, marriage.

(I remember being very confused watching the Bergmann film about his grandparents' unhappy marriage, because she was wearing a single gold band, and yet they were talking about being engaged.)

#58 bart

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 03:19 PM

That Wili must have been Swedish, where one gold band meant engagement, and a second, marriage.

That would explain it! Like Bathilde, she was engaged and then betrayed. :thanks:

#59 sidwich

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 04:05 PM

To me, ballet is an art form that already requires such a degree of suspension of disbelief that if I can go with a woman in tulle and toe shoes representing a swan or the statuesque and blonde Michele Wiles playing an Indian princess, tattoos don't seem like much of an issue.

#60 Andrew73

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 02:44 AM

To me, ballet is an art form that already requires such a degree of suspension of disbelief ...


For me, that suspension would fail if I saw Giselle with a Satanist motif; but, in general, if it did not distract, I wouldn't worry a lot. It's a fashion that will probably wind down one day, but nothing we say or do will make much of a difference!


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