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Tom47

Male Beauty in Dance:

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It seems to me that the word "Beauty" is not generally associated with the male form, but I feel that the male form has the potential to be seen as being as beautiful as the female form. One of the many things I enjoy when viewing dance and in particular ballet, is the many times I perceive the male dancers to be beautiful. I don't know if that sounds strange or not. Perhaps the best example of this, at least in my mind, is the short ballet "Le Spectre de la Rose" and there are others.

I also found examples of beautiful dances by men at the "Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater" website. These include "Ostrich" and "Takedeme." At the BravoFact website I found "Lost in Motion" and doing a search I found "The Calm Below."

It's not just the visual aspect of the form of the male dancers that I find beautiful, but also the costumes they wear and the expressive quality of their motions. These are traits that I feel are not generally associated with men.

By writing the above I do not mean to say that women are not beautiful, but that is a common feeling and is easy to say. It is more difficult for me to say that men are beautiful.

Tom,

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I agree with you Tom. Male dancers are just as beautiful as female dancers, though in different ways at times. I love this photo from Marcelo Gomes' Instagram, from Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. When most people think of SL, they picture a frail, delicate, lithe female. But, as some people know, in Bourne's version, the swans are male, and this photo is beautiful to me because of its quiet strength and intensity:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BBJqLxWCue_/?taken-by=marcelua

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ABT Fan, thank you for commenting and for the link. You make a good point. I feel strongly that beauty is in the "eye of the beholder" and in that way is subjective to the person perceiving the beauty. Meaning what maybe beautiful to one person may not be to another. So, the perception of beauty can vary a great deal both from one person to another and also within the same person. I would like people to comment, like you did, on what they feel are examples of male beauty in dance, but also male beauty in general. Again, nothing that I write is meant to take away from female beauty.

Tom,

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For me, male beauty in dance and in general is really embodied in my favourite male dancer, the young Sebastian Haynes, still a corps dancer with the RDB. Usually, I am quite biased in favour of the female beauty so associated with ballet as an art form, but whenever Sebastian is on stage, I simply cannot take my eyes off of him, whether or not he's a lead. Most recently this struck me when he dances one of the demi-soloist parts in Theme and Variations and although I was totally bewitched by Holly Dorger as the ballerina, during the crescendo when the males do those amazingly strong jumps, my focus kept returning to Sebastian. He was, to speak honestly, completely gorgeous. He has defined the role of Madge in Hübbe's Sylphide for me where the dandy clothes only enhanced his natural appeal. He was fiery in the male lead in the Chocolate part of Balanchine's Nutcracker in December. Very striking in the modern works I've seen him in as well. Sebastian is a very expressive and touching dancer to watch - traits I always admire in female dancers, but NEED in male dancers to be moved by their performances, however technically perfect they might be. Sebastian is a prime example of perfection in that regard for me. Other male dancers that make me think of them as beautiful are principal dancer with the RDB Gregory Dean and etoile with the POB Stephane Bullion.

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Syrene, thank you for the reply and the links. This is how I learn about different dancers. Looking at your profile I noticed that you live in Demark. I just finished reading Nini Theilade's book "Dance Was Worth It All."

Tom,

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I have written that I feel strongly that beauty is in the "eye of the beholder." What that means to me is that a person or object or any living thing cannot be beautiful or ugly in and of itself. I may perceive something as being beautiful, but that does not make that thing beautiful, because the perception of beauty is within me, not in the object. Someone else may perceive that same thing as being ugly and by the same logic that does not make it ugly. Sometimes I might say or write that something is beautiful, but that is just a shorthand way of me saying that I perceive it as beautiful.

I suspect not all people feel that way. For example The Random House College Dictionary defines beauty as "a quality that is present in a thing or person giving intense aesthetic pleasure or deep satisfaction to the senses or the mind." I agree with the second part of that definition ("giving intense aesthetic pleasure or deep satisfaction to the senses or the mind"), but for the first part to be the case ("a quality that is present in a thing or person") would mean that everyone would have the same perception or opinion regarding the beauty of a person or thing. I don't think that is the case.

Tom,

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Tom, I agree 100% with your idea of "beauty in the eyes of the beholder" and this is why I can sometimes get a bit tired of the tone on BA. I love the discussions and reading about other people's experiences, but sometimes there is a tendency to see a subjective opinion as fact and with ballet, as with any art form, opinions are very personal and not necessarily a reflection of how others have experienced a dancer or a performance.

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Syrene, again I thank you for your contribution to this topic. Your comment led met to the following thought. I feel it is difficult to always separate my subjective opinion from objective fact. Earlier I wrote that "Sometimes I might say or write that something is beautiful, but that is just a shorthand way of me saying that I perceive it as beautiful." However, it is also a matter of habit on my part. Plus when I feel strongly about the beauty of something it is difficult for me to see an opposing viewpoint. I am not always logical.

In regard tot he topic of "Male Beauty in Dance" at times I have experienced intense aesthetic pleasure and deep satisfaction when viewing a male dancer dancing. That is I experienced that man performing his dance to be beautiful. This is true no matter what others think about me or even if no one else in the whole world experienced it to be beautiful. This is what I started this topic to explore and Syrene, you and ABTFan have helped me do that.

Tom,

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Meaning what maybe beautiful to one person may not be to another.

Still...haven't must of all grow with the classical Greco/Roman concept of male form repeated at infinitum in every sculpture section of about every big museum of the world..? For once I am biased...

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C. M. B. I appreciate your comment on this topic, but I am not sure what your point is.

Tom,

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I wrote "what maybe beautiful to one person may not be to another," but it maybe that people as a whole tend to experience many of the same things to be beautiful. That is many, but not all people may agree on what is beautiful in some cases. There could be, at least, two reasons for this, which could be summarized as "Nature and Nurture." Nature refers to what we are born with, basically our genetic makeup, while Nurture refers to how we are brought up, including what we are explicitly or implicitly taught. In my opinion people are not born with a predisposition to perceive the human form as being ugly and may very well be born with a predisposition to perceive the human form, both the female form and the male form, as being attractive and in some cases even beautiful. My opinion is that the predisposition to perceiving the human form as attractive and in some cases even beautiful is of similar intensity in regard to the viewing of both the female and the male form.

However, in regard to nurture, it is my opinion that the way we are brought up, including what we are explicitly or implicitly taught influences what people in any particular culture experience as being attractive or beautiful. So in any particular culture at any particular time there may be similarities in what people regard as being beautiful. But, it also appears to me that in different cultures and at different times the concept of what is beautiful, in some cases, varies significantly.

To start this topic I wrote "It seems to me that the word "Beauty" is not generally associated with the male form, but I feel that the male form has the potential to be seen as beautiful as the female form." I believe that, in our culture, (primarily modern USA) people tend to perceive the female form as being more beautiful than the male and in some cases may feel that the male form is never beautiful. But I don't believe that is because of human nature (what we are born with), but due to the nature of our culture. I feel there could be a culture in which people tend to perceive the male form as being more beautiful than the female. My guess is that a person, female or male, living in Greece during the Classical period (approximately 500 BCE to 300 BCE) would have said that the male form is more beautiful than the female.

I see that this discussion relates to Ballet, as I feel that Ballet tends to be a exception to the general idea of beauty in this culture in that men are not presented as being beautiful and I feel that many viewers of Ballet experience male dancers as being beautiful and so Ballet may be a good area to examine the idea of Male Beauty.

Tom,

Edited by Tom47

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One reason I feel the male from can be perceived as beautiful is that I have found more and more cases where I perceive the male form as being beautiful. Many of these examples are in ballet, but I have also seen this in other art forms.

Dame Laura Knight was an artist (I feel a very good artist) born in the United Kingdom in 1877. She appears to have mainly produced works depicting women or children, but did some beautiful depictions of men, In particular there is the painting "Physical Training at Witley Camp" (1918) hopefully shown a the following link:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/02/2b/17/022b17169c9f5992978d0f2ea8ceab8d.jpg

I view the form and the action of the men in this picture as being beautiful. Further I see them as related to ballet in terms of their exaggerated movement. That I see is an important part of the beauty of ballet and also the beauty of this picture. I also see the clouds and the straight lines of the ropes as compared tot he action of the boxers as adding to the painting's beauty.

If you cannot view the painting through the above link you can do a google image search for "Physical Training at Witley Camp" by Dame Laura Knight. I still would like to see examples of what the members of Ballet Alert view as Male Beauty either in dance or elsewhere.

Tom,

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"My guess is that a person, female or male, living in Greece during the Classical period (approximately 500 BCE to 300 BCE) would have said that the male form is more beautiful than the female."

I imagine you're right -- if we were time travelers, this is likely the experience we'd have. But I think it's tricky to apply an aesthetics that was developed at a time when women were so clearly second class citizens to issues about gender. My partner is an avocational philosopher, and we've spent a great deal of time with the Greeks, but I do think this is one of their weak spots.

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Sandik, thank you for your reply, I value the input of someone like you who has knowledge of the Classical Greeks. I agree that the Greeks at that time, particularly the Greeks in Athens, treated women as second class citizens and I would add maybe worse and that is certainly a major failure of that culture, but I'm not sure what you mean by ". . . it's tricky to apply an aesthetic developed at a time when women were so clearly second class citizens to issues about gender." I also believe that all or at least most civilizations treated women as second class citizens or even worse.

In my opinion we are currently moving in a direction where people are less likely to be assigned roles based simply on their gender. I like to think that we will also move in a direction where it is no longer felt that people of a certain gender are less beautiful than those of the other gender.

Tom,

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I agree that the Greeks at that time, particularly the Greeks in Athens, treated women as second class citizens and I would add maybe worse and that is certainly a major failure of that culture, but I'm not sure what you mean by ". . . it's tricky to apply an aesthetic developed at a time when women were so clearly second class citizens to issues about gender." I also believe that all or at least most civilizations treated women as second class citizens or even worse.

By consigning women to such a limited place in the culture they have limited their own vision of what a human can be -- I think this affects their aesthetic vision as well.

I like to think that we will also move in a direction where it is no longer felt that people of a certain gender are less beautiful than those of the other gender.

Tom,

And on that I think we agree.

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Sandik, I agree with your statement "By consigning women to such a limited place in the culture they have limited their own vision of what a human can be -- I think this affects their aesthetic vision as well." My point in bringing up the Classical Greeks wasn't to hold them up as an ideal, but was to give an example where I felt the perception of beauty, in regard to the sexes, was different than our own thus supporting my belief that just because something is common in our current culture doesn't mean that it is what is natural. I don't believe that the Classical Greeks were the only culture that limited the vision of what a human can be.

Again thank you for your intelligent input. If forces me to think about and refine my opinions.

Tom,

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C. M. B. I appreciate your comment on this topic, but I am not sure what your point is.

Tom,

Let's be honest. Yes, there are infinite concepts of beauty, but I'm pretty sure...(no, let me re phrase that)- I'm POSITIVE that we all have the same ideal of ballet male beauty, which not differs too much from those Greco-Roman sculptures that I referred to earlier. I said I was biased because I can't really think too much outside of such beauty box.

julyRoberto-Bolle1.jpg

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C. M. B. You bring up and interesting and important point. I do feel that there are similarities among what people feel is beautiful, due to either what people are born with in terms of genetics or due to what they experience in life. This would be more likely to be the case in a particular culture or sub-culture at a particular time, but that does not mean that everyone experiences the same things as being beautiful. So, it is possible that, on average, the ". . . ideal of ballet male beauty . . ." does not differ ". . . too much from those Greco-Roman sculpture . . ." for the average person who perceives ballet as being beautiful. But, not all people perceive ballet as being beautiful.

To all, I wrote in my first comment to this topic "It seems to me that the word 'Beauty' is not generally associated with the male form . . .," but I was not sure if everyone would agree with me on that. Since writing that no one has disagreed and I wonder if that means that people do agree with that statement. I would like to hear from anyone who disagrees or anyone who agrees.

Tom,

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Male beauty is being increasingly exploited in worlwide media. Nowadays there are as many magazine comercial adds portraying handsome guys as there are of women. Male beauty is celebrated, exposed, and as photoshopped as much as female. Ballet is no different.

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One sobering thing about male beauty in Greece is that Socrates’ male beauties – Charmides and Alcibiades – became tyrants and worked against democracy. (For a parable about the high maintenance diet of male beauty see Dorian Gray).

Does male beauty help in dance? Or does slow it down and make it ponderous? I prefer seeing videos of Bart Cook to Peter Martins (whose good looks are too static), young Merce Cunningham, Edward Villella, awkward, Tanny LeClercq-like Renan Cerdeiro, etc. Good/great choreography is a harmony – or community – of odd parts.

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C. M. B. I applaud attempts to show more male beauty in any of the arts or media and would see that development as something positive.

Tom,

Quiggin, it seems to me that you are trying to force a connection between things that are not interrelated. Beauty does not beget tyrants, it is not necessarily high maintenance and to answer your question it does not slow down dance or make it ponderous. I feel that Angel Corella is a beautiful man, is a beautiful dancer and that he certainly is fast and light on his feet. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that you are trying to find something negative about male beauty and you are not succeeding in that.

Tom,

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This topic is about "Male Beauty in Dance," but I feel to fully examine that topic, particularly in our current culture, it is important to examine the idea of beauty itself and it is this that I have been trying to do.

I experience certain things as being beautiful and one of those things are railroad tracks, in regard to their curves, how they intersect when crossing or in switch yards and how straight tracks seem to converge into the distance. This may seem strange and because I see railroad tracks as being beautiful does not mean that they are beautiful in some objective manner and because someone else may not see railroad tracks as being beautiful does not mean that they are not beautiful in some objective manner.

Why do I perceive railroad tracks as being beautiful? Well I was not born with an attraction to railroad tracks, but I may have been born with a predisposition toward experiencing certain curves and lines as beautiful and that I see those curves and lines in railroad tracks. However, I also can identify certain experiences I have had which also could have influenced my feelings about railroad tracks. So, even if most people are born with a predisposition toward experiencing those curves and lines as beautiful would not mean that they would experience railroad tracks as beautiful, because they may not have had the same experiences that I have had. That is it is possible that both are needed.

Something similar could be the case in the perception of male beauty. People may tend to be born with a predisposition toward experiencing both the female form and the male form as being beautiful, but the nature of their experiences maybe such that the only end up perceiving the female form as being beautiful and may even perceive the male form as being ugly. This may come from a difference in social norms and value regarding the female and male form.

Tom,

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Earlier I brought up the concept of "Nature and Nurture" that is how both what we are born with, basically our genetic makeup (nature) and what we experience (nurture) influence how we perceive the world and in particular what we see as beautiful or attractive. I now want to cover the idea of nature in regard to male beauty in dance or elsewhere.

Humans are comparatively weak compared to other animals and we do not have the fangs and sharp teeth that some other animals have. Further humans are able to talk. Because of these things I feel it was and still is important for survival that humans group together. Grouping together means that humans can hunt and defend themselves against stronger animals and it appears to me that talking would only be of benefit if people are in a group. So, I feel that anything that works against humans grouping together would be harmful to the human species and anything that promotes humans grouping together would be helpful to the human species.

One thing that would work against humans grouping together is if they are born with a predisposition to find other humans ugly and one thing that would promote humans grouping together is if they are born with a predisposition to find other humans attractive. Attractive means appealing to one's sense of beauty: providing; pleasure or delight, esp. in appearance or manner." It makes sense to me that if a person feels that other people are attractive then they would be more likely to join with others thus improving their chances of survival and their chances of passing on their genes. The opposite would be the case for people who find others ugly. It seems to me that attraction is similar to beauty. So, it appears to me that humans would evolve so as to be born with a predisposition to perceive other humans as attractive or even beautiful. This, I feel, would apply equally to females perceiving males or other females as attractive or beautiful and males perceiving other males or females as attractive or beautiful.

Next I plan to write about how I feel the enjoyment of dance relates to what I wrote above.

Tom,

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Is there anything in "human nature" that leads us to enjoy watching dance? I'm not asking about the enjoyment of dancing as a participant, but the enjoyment of viewing others dance, as a spectator.

There could be a number of answers to this question, but I feel one is related to the idea I expressed above that people could be attracted to other people so as to promote the forming of groups. Taking that further, it could be that the enjoyment of the sight of people undertaking athletic performances, such as dance, could result in the viewer being attracted to those performers, in the sense of wanting to be with them. This enjoyment and attraction might be enhanced if the performers show an expert degree of physical ability. Thus, it is possible that the enjoyment of the sight of athletic performers performing well could enhance the survival of an individual by encouraging them to group with those who are physically fit and capable. Dance would also show the ability to coordinate with others. Individuals who enjoy such a sight would then be more likely to survive and pass along their genes. Because of this I feel there may be an evolutionary explanation for people enjoying the sight of others dancing. This may not only be the case with viewing dance, but it maybe also the case with viewing sports.

Tom,

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