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How important is it to be tall for a male dancer?


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#16 genedancer

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 01:56 PM

I'm getting quite paranoic about being too short.In many auditions for male dancers they require 1,80 m height at least (from Bejart's company,to Nederlands Dans Theater,to Bavarian etc)and I unfortunately am a little bit less.I was 1,75 m last year but I think i've gained 1 or 2 cm.How important is in your opinion the height of a dancer?do you know how tall are some of them?Do you think it is a real problem nowadays to be less than 1,80?
I know Bolle is 1,87....I wonder if Malakhov or Corella are as tall or less.Please understand the paranoia of a young(mmmm....getting old;-)) dancer:D.


I'm 1,78 m right now....I've grown a bit!I'd be happy if I got to 1,80 :-).


5/13/08 2:40pm from Genedancer; Soon you will be the right size to languish in a corp for years. Is that what you are looking forward to? Wouldn't you rather be hired for your talent and specialty expertise. Stop worrying and work harder, learn more, and win competitions. Do that and you will be discovered as the fantastic dancer you will have become. You've got lots of time. Do more classes, on your own at home with books and videos. Then get correction from a teacher. If you explain what you are doing, you might even be given a scholarship - or at least a partial. Good Luck.

#17 printscess

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:58 PM

I'm getting quite paranoic about being too short.In many auditions for male dancers they require 1,80 m height at least (from Bejart's company,to Nederlands Dans Theater,to Bavarian etc)and I unfortunately am a little bit less.I was 1,75 m last year but I think i've gained 1 or 2 cm.How important is in your opinion the height of a dancer?do you know how tall are some of them?Do you think it is a real problem nowadays to be less than 1,80?
I know Bolle is 1,87....I wonder if Malakhov or Corella are as tall or less.Please understand the paranoia of a young(mmmm....getting old;-)) dancer:D.


I'm 1,78 m right now....I've grown a bit!I'd be happy if I got to 1,80 :-).


5/13/08 2:40pm from Genedancer; Soon you will be the right size to languish in a corp for years. Is that what you are looking forward to? Wouldn't you rather be hired for your talent and specialty expertise. Stop worrying and work harder, learn more, and win competitions. Do that and you will be discovered as the fantastic dancer you will have become. You've got lots of time. Do more classes, on your own at home with books and videos. Then get correction from a teacher. If you explain what you are doing, you might even be given a scholarship - or at least a partial. Good Luck.


Genetics are genetics and you will be as tall as you were meant to be.

There have been many short men who have danced "tall": Angel Corella (ABT) , Joaquin De Lux,(ABT and now NYCB) Herman Corenjo (ABT) just to name a few. What sets them apart is their proportions and their artistry. No one who sees them ever says, "oy, are they short dancers!!!" I agree with Genedancer, do you want to get to the right corps size and languish there?

My son is 5'6" and dances like he is 6' tall. Were we worried that he would never be a professional dancer? Yes, but all of his teachers told him that there would be a company out there for him. He was offered 3 contracts last year at the age of 17. During the grueling year of auditions, he knew he had to show the A.D.'s that he wasn't a short dancer, but rather a dancer who just happened to be short. He chose a fantastic regional company where he has danced mostly soloist and some principal roles. That is because he is not the "correct" size for the corp. He dances tall and big and takes up the stage. He partners taller women but you don't "see" a short male partnering tall women.

So don't use your height as an excuse, use it as an advantage. Don't be a short dancer, dance as tall as you can. And best of luck.

#18 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 07:16 PM

There have been many short men who have danced "tall": Angel Corella (ABT) , Joaquin De Lux,(ABT and now NYCB) Herman Corenjo (ABT) just to name a few. What sets them apart is their proportions and their artistry. No one who sees them ever says, "oy, are they short dancers!!!" I agree with Genedancer, do you want to get to the right corps size and languish there?


Though I agree with your good advice, I will say I've occasionally thought that very thing about those very dancers. Usually it isn't their dancing though - it's that they've been miscast.

#19 carbro

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 07:42 PM

Bujones I think was also 5'7" or 5'8"(??).

I think at least a bit taller, because he regularly partnered the 5'7" Cynthia Gregory, who did not loom over him when she was en pointe.

I saw a performance of "Apollo" with Wim Vanlessen in Gent. Because of his physical proportions, including high calf muscles that elongate his legs, I though he looked to be at least six feet tall on stage. He isn't.

This is an important point -- the visual impact of proportions. Even in partnering, the relative proportions of the dancers can harmonize when, on paper, you'd think they wouldn't work. Baryshnikov, at 5'7" and stockyish, looked just fine in 3rd Movement of Symphony in C opposite lean and leggy, 5'6" Heather Watts. He had mass, she didn't. Of course, the two don't have a supported adagio in that movement, which may have looked a bit odd.

#20 87Sigfried87

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 12:28 AM

Genetics are genetics and you will be as tall as you were meant to be.

There have been many short men who have danced "tall": Angel Corella (ABT) , Joaquin De Lux,(ABT and now NYCB) Herman Corenjo (ABT) just to name a few. What sets them apart is their proportions and their artistry. No one who sees them ever says, "oy, are they short dancers!!!" I agree with Genedancer, do you want to get to the right corps size and languish there?

My son is 5'6" and dances like he is 6' tall. Were we worried that he would never be a professional dancer? Yes, but all of his teachers told him that there would be a company out there for him. He was offered 3 contracts last year at the age of 17. During the grueling year of auditions, he knew he had to show the A.D.'s that he wasn't a short dancer, but rather a dancer who just happened to be short. He chose a fantastic regional company where he has danced mostly soloist and some principal roles. That is because he is not the "correct" size for the corp. He dances tall and big and takes up the stage. He partners taller women but you don't "see" a short male partnering tall women.

So don't use your height as an excuse, use it as an advantage. Don't be a short dancer, dance as tall as you can. And best of luck.


Ehm....if you are Corella or Simkin of course it's not a problem to be short. But if I were a special talent as they are,I would probably already have been noticed and have been given contracts for big companies and so on....I am very honest towards myself.I am not a dancer who can become a first soloist or a world known star of ballet; there is one in a million dancer,and I'm not. I can be taken as Corps right now,no more....and being short for the corps is a real problem. Someone else said to go and take more classes,study more etc....yes,studying is always a good thing to improve....but also taking classes 10 hours a day I'll never be Simkin or Corella!they are special talents....I'm a normal one,as many dancers in the corps all over the world.

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 04:12 AM

However, it is worthwhile to consider that the use of male dancers (emploi) comes in waves. That is, long, tall dancers will be "fashionable" for a period, then the pendulum swings. Does the change in casting for Corņejo to include the "princes" combined with the near-simultaneous hiring of Simkin at ABT signal a change in casting for smaller dancers system-wide? Perhaps. And when that sort of thing happens, the rising tide lifts all boats. More work for everybody.

#22 aurora

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 06:52 AM

Bujones I think was also 5'7" or 5'8"(??).

I think at least a bit taller, because he regularly partnered the 5'7" Cynthia Gregory, who did not loom over him when she was en pointe.


I don't know about that--in both the black swan and paquita videos that are available on youtube I'd say she did loom over him.

They look great together but she is considerably taller than he is when on pointe.

#23 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 07:59 AM

Fernando was about 5'10". I never measured him, but he was a good hand taller than I.

#24 aurora

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 01:27 PM

Fernando was about 5'10". I never measured him, but he was a good hand taller than I.


I'm sorry, but I just had a mental image of someone nonchalently whipping out a tape measure and holding it up to him, and it was fabulous! :off topic:

I didn't mean to imply he was only 5'7", only that en pointe, Gregory did appear taller than him.

#25 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 01:33 PM

Oh, she certainly did! We have to remember that Gregory was quite tall en pointe, but it didn't matter as much, because she could do a lot of the pas de deux herself, without much need for a partner. She was sort of the Anti-Markova!

#26 SanderO

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 03:53 PM

How much is a good hand, Mel? Seriously, that is a measurement... but how are you using this?

#27 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 04:45 PM

Among the horsy, a "hand" (handsbreadth) is standardized at 4 inches. I'm giving an approximate measurement here, as I'm 5'7".

#28 Memo

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 11:27 PM

Fernando was about 5'10". I never measured him, but he was a good hand taller than I.


I agree Mel I think they have underestimated his height.

#29 Marga

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 06:45 AM

Here is the official Orlando Ballet picture taken just a few months before Bujones died:

Orlando Ballet 2005-2006

On Fernando's right, with his arm around her waist, is Jessica Sibley, one of the tallest members of the company, at around 5'7". Of course, she is wearing 2 or 3 inch heels. On his left is Katia Garza, around 5'3". One can see that her shoes are about 2 inches high. Next to Katia, on her left, is her husband Israel Rodriguez, who is 5'8" - 5'8―". Draw your own conclusions. :off topic:

In any case, isn't it a great picture? You can see the affection Fernando Bujones had for his dancers, who loved him so much.

#30 bart

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 08:22 AM

It is a wonderful photo, Marga. Thank you for linking to it. I didn't see Bujones as much as I would have liked, but always thought of him as fairly slight. In other words, small without appearing to be short. His strength, elevation anad stage presence were all the more amazing to me because of that original visual impression.

So much seems of this height issue seems to involve illusions created on stage by the dancer and perpetuated in the viewer's memory. Helene's sharp eye even notes the effect of something so small as the proportion of the calves:

I saw a performance of "Apollo" with Wim Vanlessen in Gent. Because of his physical proportions, including high calf muscles that elongate his legs, I though he looked to be at least six feet tall on stage. He isn't.


What are some of the other factors -- physical, technical, or even maters of staging -- can make the audience think "This dancer is TALL?" and then store it away in the memory as fact rather than impression?


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