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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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#106 kfw

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 06:13 PM

Ballet as a genre seems to include the platonic notion of a perform 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.

Very well put, SanderO. Thanks. The audience looks for self-expression, but self-expression achieved through the discipline that serves the art form. Anything else is a distraction.

#107 vagansmom

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 02:30 PM

My reaction was the same, Cristian. I was a "love 'em" person, thinking in general terms, but I don't want to see them on stage unless they fit the character and period! I think that tats would be great in "West Side Story", and so would piercings. But unless it's a modern view of the classics, my vote would have to be no to wearing them onstage.

I'm curious about those tiny nose piercings, though: Are there many ballet dancers with them?

#108 Pointe1432

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 08:10 AM

vagansmom, I know a number of dancers with nose piercings. It's interesting how that is the one piercing that I don't see removed for performances. Mostly they are so small that they can be dabbed with a tiny bit of makeup or I've known one dancer to put a tiny wax-like substane over it so that it wouldn't sparkle in the light. But with a nose piercing, even if it does shine alittle it simply looks like a tiny glisten of sweat.

I think all other piercings I see removed and tattoos covered with either makeup or "Elastoplast". And most purposely have their tattoos where it is easier to cover them when need be.

I'd have to agree with the general consensus that I wouldn't want to see a tattoo in any classical ballet, ever. But I think in most modern ones too, depending on the size and location of it. If it is a small ankle tattoo it probably wouldn't bother me. But a tattoo of the state you are from across your ribcage (I've seen this) would be distracting to me. I just know I would spend most of my time trying to figure out what it was than actually watching the piece unfold.

#109 YouOverThere

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 08:15 AM

Over the course of a career, a dancer has to play different types of characters and express the whole gamut of emotions. It's hard to imagine a tattoo that would be appropriate for every role.

#110 lovesvetlana

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 05:36 AM

I would be shocked if a ballerina has a tattoo, and would not like to see any signs of tattoos on stage especially when it comes to Classical Ballet.

Why would someone who learns classical arts/ dance want a tattoo?
To me, a tattoo is something modern or contemporary.

However, if the tattoo is on somewhere that can be covered up by costumes, and does not show any signs on stage, I would not think it matters for me.

#111 SanderO

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 08:03 AM

A role that requires a tattoo does not preclude any dancer from that role. They can apply a tatt as make up, which is what a tatt is, a kind of permanent make up.

With ballet being so much about perfection in form and movement of the human body, it's hard to understand how many tatts could be considered as part of that goal.

I see them as "fashion", despite them being rather permanent, and ballet as being more timeless and classic. I suppose some with tattoos see them as just part of their skin while others see them as something rather different. I find them a distraction and more so in ballet and so I would hope that they dancer and the AD would have the good sense to cover them. Otherwise it's a king of improvisation which appears to step over the line and disrespect the established traditions.

#112 lovesvetlana

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 08:02 PM

A role that requires a tattoo does not preclude any dancer from that role. They can apply a tatt as make up, which is what a tatt is, a kind of permanent make up.

With ballet being so much about perfection in form and movement of the human body, it's hard to understand how many tatts could be considered as part of that goal.

I see them as "fashion", despite them being rather permanent, and ballet as being more timeless and classic. I suppose some with tattoos see them as just part of their skin while others see them as something rather different. I find them a distraction and more so in ballet and so I would hope that they dancer and the AD would have the good sense to cover them. Otherwise it's a king of improvisation which appears to step over the line and disrespect the established traditions.

I totally agree with you on the "disrespect the established traditions" part.

#113 4mrdncr

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 08:32 PM

As far as tattoos are concerned, I agree with the general consensus of this Board, that in performance of the classical rep, it could be a distraction. (Somehow I can't see Aurora in her pink tutu, and Desire in 18thc. court costume with tattoos, but Carabosse and her minions might not look too bad. And except for the fact that Odile is supposed to be the image of Odette, Odile with a tattoo, like Bourne's use of black leather, would certainly provide a not-so-suble intimation of her/his character; that is, if we didn't start analysing what the tattoo we saw actually was--and so distract ourselves from those 32 fouettes.)

As for piercings, I have seen some health issues, that should be considered...

(Assuming it is removed during performances or miniscule in size.)
It is difficult to keep the pierced area clean with a constant influx of stage makeup and sweat, so I've known at least two dancers who abandoned them because they developed minor infections . And does anyone know what causes keloids? I wouldn't think those were very attractive either.

Also, I've had many dentists/orthodontists tell me tongue piercings have caused several young people to require major reconstructive work done or even false tooth/teeth up front, because the constant tongue clicking (a temptation/habit hard to stop) had cracked the enamel and/or teeth themselves.

#114 Marcmomus

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:35 PM

Most contributors agree that visible tattoos are an unwelcome distraction. The critic Arnold Haskell obhorred nail varnish: " ...when a work and a company are both so well-known that carmine-coloured nails, objectionable at all times, can in Les Sylphides, by cutting off abruptly the fine line of the fingers and substituting bloody stumps, produce a feeling of profound irritation..."

Haskell, Arnold L., Balletomania, p.15. Victor Gollancz, London 1934

#115 bart

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 05:40 PM

The critic Arnold Haskell abhorred nail varnish

I can see this with Les Sylphide, as with swans, Shades, wilis, the ladies of Serenade, etc. But how about ballets in which painted nails are consistent with the character? -- Manon? the various versions of Lady of the Camelias? the Coquette of Sonnambula? the Striptease Girl? the dance hall girls in Western Symphony? Odile?

#116 dirac

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 05:51 PM

I would think discreet pale pink nail polish would be fine for most ballets and although no one not up front will care itís nice to see dancers, male and female, with well kept hands. Haskell was surely right to abominate red nails in Les Sylphides. I suppose it would be all right, though not necessary, for an amusement like Western Symphony or Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (indeed it would be odd if the Strip Tease Girl didnít have brightly colored nails). Courtesans were showy but I donít think Jungle Red nails would be appropriate for Marguerite or Manon unless itís in line with the custom of their times, and Iím not sure about that.

#117 carbro

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 11:34 PM

I can see this with Les Sylphide, as with swans, Shades, wilis, the ladies of Serenade, etc. But how about ballets in which painted nails are consistent with the character? -- Manon? the various versions of Lady of the Camelias? the Coquette of Sonnambula? the Striptease Girl? the dance hall girls in Western Symphony? Odile?

Maybe for those seated in the front few rows of the orchestra, but for most of the house, you do get the stunted line of the hand. There was a period in the late '70s-early '80s when some NYCB dancers wore nail polish. Especially with the "Balanchine hand," it flattered no one, but even soft hands look blunted unless the polish is no darker than the natural nail.

I read somewhere once that ABT prohibited nail polish, even clear. Maybe clear can catch the light and sparkle inappropriately? :)

#118 dirac

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 11:14 AM

I read somewhere once that ABT prohibited nail polish, even clear. Maybe clear can catch the light and sparkle inappropriately? :)


A clear gloss might indeed catch the light inappropriately if the gloss is too high. A skin-tone polish without a high top coat of gloss would be all right, I should think.

Brightly colored nails don't usually blunt the hand, however, unless they and/or the hand are badly shaped, though - generally colored longer nails enhance and emphasize longer fingers and elegant hands and often they are used to draw attention to those qualities. Even for women with shorter fingers a well shaped nail, colored or not, can extend the line of the hand and not blunt it. But onstage they don't have that effect, they're just a distraction.

#119 duffster

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 06:46 PM

We were never permitted to wear nailpolish for performances- I guess too much of a distraction. For Swan Lake-(Off Topic) red lipstick was forbidden-you could only wear a warmer tone- as under the blue lights, the red lipstick would turn your lips almost black.

#120 bart

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 08:44 PM

For Swan Lake-(Off Topic) red lipstick was forbidden-you could only wear a warmer tone- as under the blue lights, the red lipstick would turn your lips almost black.

:o I never thought about the lighting issue. Black-lipped swans -- sounds more like wilis in a Giselle production especially influenced by Wes Craven. :)


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