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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

#91 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 08:01 PM

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!!

#92 bart

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 07:55 AM

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.

#93 richard53dog

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 09:01 AM

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?

#94 rebecca0327

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 06:43 PM

they are too distracting!

#95 dancewonder

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:37 AM

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.

#96 aurora

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:54 AM

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.

#97 Mashinka

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 08:12 AM

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.

#98 kfw

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 08:38 AM

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.

#99 aurora

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 08:50 AM

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:

#100 kfw

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 09:42 AM

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.

#101 Helene

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 10:11 AM

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.


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).

As far as I know, visible tattoos are more modern on a ballet stage than the extreme extensions we are seeing. Suzanne Farrell had some extreme extensions in "Bournonville Divertissement" (certainly extreme for Bournonville), but Balanchine would have had a heart attack if she had showed up in the studio with a visible tattoo. Semenyaka didn't limit herself to 90 degrees in the "Raymonda" from the 1980's.

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.

I think we'd go bankrupt from the bandwidth costs if everyone pre-faced every opinion on this board with "In my opinion" :dunno:

Polls like this one solicit aesthetic judgements. We would be a very small discussion board if we agreed on everything.

#102 bart

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 10:21 AM

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.

This made me think of the cavalier-porteur. In recent performances of the aristocratic first movement of Symphony in C, part of Roland Sarabia's tatoo was peaking out above his collar line. Half a tattoo is, for some reason, even more distracting than a complete one.

On the other hand: aristocracy doesn't always mean pure, undefiled skin. Aristocrats in the 18th century had lots of disfiguring skin markings owing to diet, worse bad personal hygiene, and even syphlitic sores. These were often sometimes covered up with patches or thick layers of cosmetics. Aristocratic ladies in the Belle Epoque and the pre World War One era got small tattoos to add a little spice to life. But never, of course, on parts of their bodies that were visible in public. :dunno:

#103 kfw

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 12:35 PM

On the other hand: aristocracy doesn't always mean pure, undefiled skin. Aristocrats in the 18th century had lots of disfiguring skin markings owing to diet, worse bad personal hygiene, and even syphlitic sores. These were often sometimes covered up with patches or thick layers of cosmetics. Aristocratic ladies in the Belle Epoque and the pre World War One era got small tattoos to add a little spice to life. But never, of course, on parts of their bodies that were visible in public. :dunno:

Very interesting, Bart. Thanks.

#104 SanderO

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:49 PM

People will disagree on whether a bod mod is beautiful or not, but the fact remains that the are modifications of/to the body, its skin of a rather permanent nature.

Ballet as a genre seems to include the platonic notion of a perfect human form in formalized motion. In that sense it is rule based and somewhat "rigid". I don't see how body modifications fit into this sensibility. And I believe most ADs and dancers agree and cover them with make up. They are meant to express something, but that expression is largely or almost exclusively directed to non ballet expressions.

This topic became current when I and several others observed tattoos on classical ballet dancers who obviously were not concealing them and obviously felt that concealment was not in order. Seems as if most disagree with that decision.

I observed a tattoo on the hip of Vishneva at her Beauty performance which was outside the auspices of the ABT. The performance was modern and so a tattoo was less jarring, but it was distracting. Although I didn't care for much of the performance the tattoo grabbed too much of my attention and shattered my illusion of "the classical ballerina". It got me also thinking about Anna Netrebko, a modern diva goes clubbing and partying like other women of her age and how we DO put these artists on some sort of pedestal where we expect them to conform to "classical expectations".

In a sense we in the audience don't "know" our dancers except as we see them in performance and read, perhaps, the occasional press release about their lives. But most ballet dancers seem to lead private lives sheltered from their public. I am not advocating more light, because they deserve their privacy. They give us so much with their artistry.

I suppose it's when the private (bod mods) appears in their artist public life that it may be disturbing or to some thrilling. And when we hold an opinion of something like bod mods it can color how we view these artists in the future. I don't know why, but seeing Ms Vishneva's tattoo makes me see her in a different light on stage.

The odd thing about any personal styling choice is that we are all very different to begin with so what's the big deal? I suppose this applies within a narrow range. I see tatts as a fad and can envision when they are out of style. What then?

#105 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 05:18 PM

So the Poll's questions are somehow tricky. "Love'em", "Hate'em" and "careless" seem to be options regarding tats likeness or not in general, not specifically to be applied only to stage time. For once, I was one of the "Love'em" voters, thinking about tats per se. Now looking to some posters clarifications and faced with the possibility to see a Giselle or a Sylph with one my choice could be probably a different one.


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