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


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#31 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 09:11 AM

And impressions are different for everyone, because when I saw Vanlessen at the same performance, I enjoyed his performance as much, but pegged him as short.

#32 Barbara

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 10:40 AM

It's funny, I always had the impression that Bujones was tall. Maybe because of his long lean musculature. In any case, he was one of my favorites and so sad that he's no longer with us. BTW, for those of you that mentioned it before - I can't seem to find the Black Swan nor Paquita You Tubes with him and Gregory. Any clues as to how to search for them? Thanks!

#33 Helene

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 12:55 PM

And impressions are different for everyone, because when I saw Vanlessen at the same performance, I enjoyed his performance as much, but pegged him as short.

That's why I had no idea that he was the dancer to whom we were introduced during first intermission until you started to discuss his performance during second intermission :clapping:

#34 SanderO

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 01:16 PM

Speaking of the height of dancers.

Are female dancers shorter than the "average" female, the same or taller? How about males?

My sense is that ballet dancers might be shorter than the average person out there, but I have no reason why I think this. It's very hard to get a sense of "scale" on a stage for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the sets which are often distorted for visual effect.

The Kirov seems to stamp their corps out of a cookie cutter mold (almost)... does anyone know how tall they are?

#35 printscess

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 04:31 PM

Speaking of the height of dancers.

Are female dancers shorter than the "average" female, the same or taller? How about males?

My sense is that ballet dancers might be shorter than the average person out there, but I have no reason why I think this. It's very hard to get a sense of "scale" on a stage for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is the sets which are often distorted for visual effect.

The Kirov seems to stamp their corps out of a cookie cutter mold (almost)... does anyone know how tall they are?



It seems that 5'5" to 5'8" is the going height these days. However, if there is an amazing talent who is on the short side (male or female) the A.D. will usually hire a dancer of similar height so that they can be partners. Therefore the shorter dancers do not look totally out of place (Herman Corjeno and Xiomara Reyes of ABT, Joaquin de Luz and Megan Fairchild of NYCB).

#36 SanderO

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 10:30 AM

I ran into my neighbor when I returning walking my dogs. We got into the elevator and she asked me what I had seen at the ABT. It didn't occur to me that I was wearing my ABT cap, Why would anyone ask me such a question. Realizing that only ballet aware people would know what the initials stood for, I figured she attends ballet. Turns out she teaches ballet... and she has many friends at ABT. YIKES how cool. I knew there was something extra special about that neighbor and she does have the body of a dancer.

So we talked about ballet and she's tall, perhaps 5' 9" and added she was too tall really for ballet. I asked her about Veronika Part who is known as a tall dancer and recently made principal at ABT. To me 5' 9" would be a tall dancer and I assumed that Ms Part was at least 5' 9" for no other reason than that I think that is how tall a tall ballerina is. She said no way could she be a principal, she's have no one to partner with... well almost no one. Bolle is quite tall too.

So what is a short dancer - male and female?
What is an average height dancer - male and female?
And what is a tall dancer - male and female?

I made her a bet (without knowing if I would win... a bad approach) that Veronkia Part was at least 5' 9" tall.

How tall IS Veronika Part?

#37 Hans

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 10:38 AM

Well, Baryshnikov and Edward Villella were considered short. Baryshnikov is about 5'8". I think anyone over 6' would be considered tall. For a woman I'm not as sure, but I recall reading that Julie Kent was one of ABT's tallest ballerinas at 5'7". I know ABT has at least one female corps member who is 5'9". Maybe a female dancer would be considered short at 5'2"?

This will vary somewhat from one company to another, as some prefer taller dancers, and others want shorter. It's a bit difficult to discuss exactly what is 'tall' and 'short' as dancers can appear taller or shorter than they really are due to many variables, including the way they dance, the size of their partners, proportions, &c.

#38 dirac

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 11:17 AM

This will vary somewhat from one company to another, as some prefer taller dancers, and others want shorter. It's a bit difficult to discuss exactly what is 'tall' and 'short' as dancers can appear taller or shorter than they really are due to many variables, including the way they dance, the size of their partners, proportions, &c.


Right. (A few of these issues were discussed earlier in the thread.) A short dancer who has the long lines needed for ballet will seem taller than he really is, in my experience.

What sets them apart is their proportions and their artistry. No one who sees them ever says, "oy, are they short dancers!!!"


I must confess that when I saw Herman Cornejo in Berkeley, the first thing that entered my head was, “Wow, he really is short."

This will vary somewhat from one company to another, as some prefer taller dancers, and others want shorter.


I remember reading that Joffrey said he would have liked taller dancers but Balanchine had all the good ones.

Thank you for reviving this thread, SanderO. I'm not sure exactly how tall Part is and would be interested to hear from anyone who does know.

#39 SanderO

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 11:17 AM

Hans, this makes perfect sense. But I suppose my questions were meant as statistical average and in the case of Ms Part... who is referred to as a tall dancer, and appears tall, but how tall is she?

I would say that the entire height range for dancers is compressed compared to the general public.

for female dancers:
short 5' 3"
average 5' 5"
tall 5' 7"

For male dancers:
short 5' 6"
average 5' 9"
tall 5' 11"

Partnering requires the correct height relationship for aesthetic and technical reasons of course and this might mean that most who make it to principal dancer fall in an even narrower range of heights. Just a guess, here.

#40 4mrdncr

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Posted 01 August 2009 - 09:06 PM

Don't forget to add at least 2 inches to every female's height because of being on pointe. That makes a difference when placed next to a shorter partner.

#41 leonid17

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 01:41 PM

For Romantic and Petipa ballet female dancers in leading roles should be not much more than 5'.
I say this because Anna Pavlova at 5'2" was considered quite tall. To be any taller the choreographic line and shapes get distorted and tempi also may be affected.
Premier Danseurs should probably be no taller than 5'6. I would think that Serge Legat for instance was shorter than that.
In post Petipa ballets I suppose what ever the choreographer has stated is appropriate.

#42 Nanarina

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 02:55 PM

:lol: Your height does not seem too short to me, most companies will make provision for a dancer who shows the qualities they seek for their performances. There must be female dancers who vary in height, who fit within the same criteria, who would match your physique.
So good luck, keep on with the auditions.

#43 canbelto

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 03:58 PM

For Romantic and Petipa ballet female dancers in leading roles should be not much more than 5'.
I say this because Anna Pavlova at 5'2" was considered quite tall. To be any taller the choreographic line and shapes get distorted and tempi also may be affected.
Premier Danseurs should probably be no taller than 5'6. I would think that Serge Legat for instance was shorter than that.
In post Petipa ballets I suppose what ever the choreographer has stated is appropriate.


Leonid, I think if you limit yourself to these rather rigid demands, you'd be missing out on a lot of great dancing. Nutrition back in the days of the Imperial Ballet was not what it is now -- children in many developed countries are simply taller.
As for the importance of height, I think many shorter dancers are able, through line, extensions, and proportios, to create the illusion of height, which might be more important than actual height. Many dancers that I've seen in person seem positively tiny offstage. Even Veronika Part, who onstage gives the impression of a towering marble statue, offstage looks like a slim, trim, above-average-in-height beauty. I didn't think "Wow how tall!"

#44 dirac

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 10:16 AM

I think canbelto makes a good point. As observed earlier in the thread, people are getting taller over the decades (and centuries) and it's simply not possible or even desirable for companies to conform to such rigid standards. And although it may well distort the choreography as you say, leonid, it seems to that's inevitable to some extent - over the years bodies change, styles in attractiveness and physicality change, training changes. It's absolutely true that Pavlova was considered tall (and skinny) back in the day, but that only serves to highlight that things are very different today.

#45 Quiggin

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 12:10 PM

I agree with Leonid about the lines and tempi being changed by the height and mass of the dancer--at some point physics does enter into the picture. Small birds have different dynamics than large ones, and smaller dancers, such as Joaquin de Luz and Antoinio Carmena are very effective in the fast movements of Symphony in C, darting in and out, in ways that might be less exciting with tall dancers.

But other things change the tempos and lines and overall look of the ballet. Dancers with sharp inner contours to their legs, along their thighs and heels (they always look like pinking shears to me) like Lindsay Fisher and Conrad Ludlow could look like the were doing more, or better beats, than other dancers.

Dancers built with arms that curve up at the elbow like Gonzalo Garcia and one of the Rubies dancers at SFB this year (?)--as if they were attached the wrong way, like cubist dolls--give good emphasis to the multiple planes of Symphony in C, Rubies and Apollo.


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