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Alexandra

Question for and about men

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Wow! Fascinating topic and responses! Thank you, Alexandra -- your far-ranging inquiries have been missed.

Many things occurred to me as I read this. Here are two.

First, people should not overestimate the "female" influence in art as it was presented in high schools and universities as recently as the late 50s and early 60s. In literature, at least, art was a man's game. (Austin was a small English car. I do recall exposure to the shorter poems of Emily Dickenson.) Our assigned books were overwhelmingly male: Shakespeare to Hemingway. They were also European or eastern U.S. There was little concern for achieving ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, or other kinds of diversity. No one seemed to feel that it was imperative to choose topics or themes that were directly relevant to adolescent experience. It was a lot easier to a male interested in the arts then, I think, than now -- and there was much less pressure to adopt a wide-ranging pop culture view of the universe. There have been losses in the changes in the last half century -- but also gains.

Second, as relate specifically to ballet, it seems that familiy influence -- and especially encouragement by mothers -- plays the biggest role. I have been reading "Round About Ballet," by William Cubberley and Joseph Carman. The book contains interviews with 15 current NYCB and ABT dancers, 8 of whom are male. 5 of these men credit their mothers specifically as providing the direction, drive and support for their love of dance. (2 others refer generally to support from their families, and Ethan Stiefel -- the only dancer from the U.S. -- credits both his mother and father).

Given the current cultural climate -- and the sad underfunding of arts curriculum in the schools -- the best thing we can probably do for the young people in our lives is devote time, tickets, transport, and conversation so that they can actually experience some of the serious performing arts that are all but excluded from the mass media. At least we can tell them: isn't it amazing what these performers are capable of doing? aren't we lucky to be able to share it with each other?

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Well, in the moment I'm making my Abitur in Germany (it's like a high school degree). The "main" courses of my abitur are English and Art.

And what do you think? I'm the only only boy in the main Art course between 25 girls...

At least for my generation and area (17) it tells you everything...

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I'm probably throwing gasoline on the fire here, but I wonder where fear of being labeled either effeminate or heterosexual comes in here. Is it not just that the arts are now the province of women, but even more threateningly of gay men?

Unfortunately, shows like Queer Eye might be reinforcing that stereotype as much as mitigating it. And as a gay man, the approach used often in the past (SEE! LOOK! A STRAIGHT BALLET DANCER!!! LOOK AT HOW MASCULINE HE IS!! EVERYBODY LOOK!!!!) was understandable on one level, but generally offensive.

I think the only solution lies with parents. Expose your children to the fine arts early and often. Let them know that cultural literacy is essential.

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Guest nycdog

Ballet is definitely in the 'gay' category to young men today. Young guys are always saying this or that 'is gay' as a put down.

I met an old man once on the sidewalk in Manhattan while walking the dog and we got to talking about the decline of art and music in the world, he was telling me that I must do something! Since I am a musician and composer I said that I will try. I don't know why I care or if I should, I just do.

Edited by nycdog5734

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Daniil, I'm sorry to learn this is the case in Europe as well! I'm one of those Americans who lives in the fantasy world where Europeans are so much more advanced than we are :)

What Bart said rang true with me, although I was hoping it wouldn't :) I'm reading into what you wrote about art and literature in the 1950s and '60s as: men will read books by men but not books by women. [Women, of course, have had to read books by and about men all their lives (and I have no objection to that! I read Dostoyevsky in high school. I diidn't get to Austen until I was in my 30s. I doubt that little boys today would read a book with a girl heroine; Harry Potter would not be the phenomen it is if it were Mary Potter.]

So, is, at the root of all of this, a deep contempt of women? When women enter a profession, men skidaddle. (Teaching, office work; medicine is the next one. And ballet was the first in the early 19th century. When ballerinas began to get attention, men left the Paris Opera. Within one dancer generation, the roles of male dances were greatly reduced.) Now it seems that if women enter the theater that means men (some men, nay, most men :) ) won't deign to follow. I think the gay/straight thing is a big part of this, too, but after all, the word "effeminate" has a specific connotation -- they're like women; is there anything worse you could say?

Tossing match onto gasoline-soaked rags and fleeing.....

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Guest nycdog

When I was Danill's age I sure would have loved to be in an art class with 25 girls and no other guys! :)

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Ballet is definitely in the 'gay' category to young men today.  Young guys are always saying this or that 'is gay' as a put down.

It's not only young guys. Young girls talk that way, too. I remember shopping one day, and hearing a pair of about 13-year-olds looking at oatmeal, and one says, "Ewww, oatmeal is gay!" :rolleyes: I will leave my falsely-astonished response to your imaginations, but it started, "No, that's Queerios...." I'm lucky I'm not in jail right now.

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I remember reading that, in the old Soviet Union, women made up a majority of physicians -- but that the field lacked the pay and status enjoyed by doctors in western countries. "Women's" professions tend to be underpaid in this country, too, and are possibly more admired by the general public than respected.

It may be true that males flee institutions perceived as being "female" or feminine. My impression is that this has increased in the past few decades, with our powerful mass culture -- films, tv and especially commercials -- enforcing rather limited stereotypes about gender behavior. (The wife is usually the smart one now, and the man something of a genial lunkhead, unlike a while ago. But the husband still loves (watching) sports with the boys and has to be seduced into going to the ballet to make the little woman happy. A real life variant is all the fathers who take their young daughters to the ballet -- quite a touching sight.)

Why, however, do so many educated, straight men I know really seem to ENJOY modern dance (Philopolus, Limon, Parsons) while continuing to be genuinely bored, rather than repelled, by ballet? I wonder whether the experience of France, where a number of classical ballet companies were converted to, or replaced by, modern dance companies (or mixed companies like Lyons and, apparantely, Marseilles) in recent years, might give us some suggestions. Why did this change occur? Is there a difference between modern and classical audiences, either by gender, age, class, or whatever? Are modern male French dancers perceived as somehow more masculine than classical dancers? Is it cooler for boys to take contemporary dance lessons than to aspire to the Paris Opera Ballet school?

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Good question about modern dance. One quick thought is that, for many people, modern dance -- or contemporary dance that isn't ballet -- is less threatening: no history, no things that look ritualistic. I remember the thing that confused me most on the first program of ballet that I saw was "Le Corsaire" pas de deux. They'd dance for a mintue and eveyrone would scream. Then he'd dance for a minute, then she -- what were they doing? Everybody in the audience seemed to know what was happening, and I didn't. That can be intimidating to some men. (And of course, we're talking about THEM, those guys who don't go to the ballet, not anyone here!)

I've had male friends who were "genuinely bored," as Bart put it, by ballet. We talked about this, and they didn't see the point of it -- it was "decadent," all this fuss over line and musicality. They did take the point that someone could say the same thing about baseball statistics :) But remember, this too is recent. The great theoretical works about ballet -- about all those arcane, picky little things that contemporary audiences find off-putting -- were written by men.

One other anecdote. In 1992 I gave a Bournonville lecture to the local Scandinavian-American Association. They met monthly and the lectures ranged from Swedish economics to Norwegian modern art. These were not ballet people. I showed them a video of "La Sylphide" and, not really knowing what I was doing, I started doing a "play by play," pointing out things that most dance people would know. After it was over I stayed and talked to the audience in a more informal setting, and several men -- all middle-aged -- came up to me (making sure no one else was around) and said things like, "I've been dragged by my wife to the ballet for 30 years and I've hated it. I never thought there was anything to it until tonight." One man was quite angry. "why didn't I know about this?" he said. "I had poetry in college, and music and art. No one ever talked about ballet." If these men are typical, they don't know about ballet, they have prejudices about it (Bournonville is great to show to men, because the men have real dancing to do, they don't wear tights, and they're "real people" (even if they're trolls :) )

I've always wanted to start SMOG -- Straight Men's Outreach Group. Get a van and a bullhorn and go through neighborhoods saying, "Lookee, lookee! Girls in see through dresses turning themselves inside out!! See Giselle go mad! See the Wilis dance men to death." (Not meaning to offend gay men; they don't need a balletmobile. Most aren't intimidated by ballet.)

Re the trend in Europe to move from ballet to contemporary dance, I think that the reason is economic. Contemporary dance companies are cheaper to run -- they're smaller, you don't need to have an academy training people for ten years, you don't have pointe shoes, in many cases you don't have to have an orchestra. Also, in Europe where the state supports the arts, after 1968 (?; I'm winging it here!) when the attitude turned from the old one of "Our state theater presents the best art, the face that we want to show the world" to "our state supports art and artists," quite understandably, modern/contemporary dancers said, "HEY! How come all the money is going to ballet companies?" There was lobbying for a different distribution of funds. (At the one performance of Paris Opera Ballet I've attended, the audience seemed half and half, but I won't swear an affidavit on that.

At local modern dance performances here, I think the audience is more mixed than at the ballet, but, going back to the gay/straight divide, my perception is that many of the men in the audience are gay. The subject matter of much dance companies -- male or female -- is gay. I've heard this discussed by dancers as a problem; straight dancers feel unwelcome (as gay dancers would have for decades). This is all anecdotal and other cities may be different. One further faux demographic I'll throw into this mix is that I've been told that in Japan 95'% of the audience for ballet is female.

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  "Women's" professions tend to be underpaid in this country, too, and are possibly more admired by the general public than respected.

This is true. It's interesting that, in my parents' generation -- in Babbitt's American shall we say -- The Doctor and the Lawyer were, along with the Banker, the most socially prominent members of a community, the pillars of the Country Club and Deacons of the Church. Since then, women have very largely penetrated Medicine and the Law and these two professions have largely if not completely lost their Social Prestige. The two things may very well be connected.

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... Contemporary dance companies are cheaper to run -- they're smaller, you don't need to have an academy training people for ten years, you don't have pointe shoes, in many cases you don't have to have an orchestra. ...

Sorry, but in this case I can't agree with you. Indeed Contemporary comapnies are cheaper to run, and are smaller, but my opinion is that 99% of all modern pieces need to have a classical ballet education.

E.g. Kylian, Forsythe, Duato...

The bad thing about modern ballet is that al lot of "non professionals" or "demagogues" make it hard to the good ones to get the money and attentions they deserve...

In modern ballet there are just no specific rules as in the classical ballet.

In general I think it is just easier to go and watch a modern ballet than a classical one, if you're not a vivid ballet goer.

Of course now we could argue that most men don't like all these "hidden" things in art like metaphors, hidden messages, small different things which change a message completely.

Probably most men like to get a message straight, without any complication. (Thats why most of them like blockbusters :) )

This is of course a cliché, but maybe there are some true things about it...

offtopic

When I was Danill's age I sure would have loved to be in an art class with 25 girls and no other guys! smile.gif

Well, I am :rolleyes:

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The issue of contemporary dance companies and training is a peripheral one to the topic but I just want to clarify: my statement was in relation to Bart's question about ballet companies in France being turned into contemporary dance companies, not fusion/hybrid/ballet moderne generally. (Although I think whether one needs a full academy schooling in ballet to dance Kylian et al could be discussed. There are dancers in Netherlands Dance Theater who are not graduates of ballet schools :) ) Also, there's a difference between a few years of ballet training or training at a conservatory that teaches both modern and ballet and ten years of academy training. That's what I was addressing -- having an academy attached to a company is a heavy expense.

Back to the main topic, I was struck by something Daniil wrote: "Of course now we could argue that most men don't like all these "hidden" things in art like metaphors, hidden messages, small different things which change a message completely." I think this part of The Change. A hundred years ago, someone would have written that women were incapable of understanding metaphor and subtlety, that only men possessed the intelligence to comprehend the abstract.

Something has happened!

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I've always wanted to start SMOG -- Straight Men's Outreach Group.  Get a van and a bullhorn and go through neighborhoods saying, "Lookee, lookee!  Girls in see through dresses turning themselves inside out!!

LOL. This the part I've never understood. I think of Balanchine saying that if people didn't like the dance they could close their eyes and just enjoy the music. If straight men aren't moved by the choreography, what about about all the pretty girls in leotards?

How ironic in any case that now when homosexuality has such widespread acceptance, perceiving something as gay should be such a turnoff. In the made-for-TV documentary on Edward Villella, the Man Who Dances, Villella and Patricia McBride conduct a lecture demonstration at a New Jersey high school, and you can see the guys are impressed. It's a shame ballet still needs a straight male liason/ ambassador to straight males.

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The perception that ballet is a "gay" art form stems, I believe, from the fact that male ballet dancers, whether they are straight or gay, are graceful and that the curved and flowing port de bras can give a very soft, feminine appearance. Make-up and the general manners of stage deportment add to this sensation. Some of the most masculine-looking male dancers who look most ardently at their partners and create the impression that the woman they are dancing with is the object of their love/lust/devotion are "in real life" 100% gay. Watching a stageful of dancers, one sometimes gets the impression that ALL the men are gay. Over the years, speculation on a given dancer's sexual preferences have been hot topics. Dancers I have known have told me the split is about 50/50 and stays reasonably stable. There are also many young dancers (remember how young they are when they start) who are ambiguous about their sexuality and don't come to terms with it - in some cases - for years. Most of these guys would say they are straight; I've heard dancers say "Well, before he realized he was gay..."

I think "straight" men in a given audience may see ballet as a bunch of pretty girls and a bunch of sissies prancing about. (That's exactly what my brother-in-law said watching it on TV once.) It may also make them queasy about their own sexuality. A straight friend of mine, married & 2 kids, told me when he recently saw one of NYCB's hunks in BARBER VIOLIN CONCERTO that he felt uncomfortable and realized that he was feeling a sexual attraction to the dancer. Maybe that is more common than we realize.

I have always found it amusing that all my gay friends, without exception, find women attractive and have no problem expressing it but very rarely will a straight man acknowledge another man as being sexy or handsome.

Sex & the ballet have always seemed very closely entwined to me. I think the dancers - of both sexes - are really sexy and it's kept me going all these years!

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I think "straight" men in a given audience may see ballet as a bunch of pretty girls and a bunch of sissies prancing about. (That's exactly what my brother-in-law said watching it on TV once.) It may also make them queasy about their own sexuality. A straight friend of mine, married & 2 kids, told me when he recently saw one of NYCB's hunks in BARBER VIOLIN CONCERTO that he felt uncomfortable and realized that he was feeling a sexual attraction to the dancer. Maybe that is more common than we realize.

In my experience, it's quite common. I've heard it from a few (straight) men, that the reason they had a hard time watching ballet was rooted in the whole "men in tights" phenomenon. One even said to me that he disliked ballet precisely because "I'm not comfortable enough with my sexuality to be able to watch a man putting himself on display like that," and another time, at a hardware store (yeah, I know...) I mentioned La Sylphide in a conversation, and I just happened to mention the kilts, and the clerk said, "God, imagine, a bunch of boy ballerinas in skirts!"

I'm not sure whether to call this sentiment homophobia per se, but it's definitely got something to do with a discomfort with the association of homosexuality with classical ballet. If there was no taboo against homosexuality, this wouldn't be as much of a problem as it is, just as if there was more gender equality, the tag of being "female" or "effeminate" wouldn't drain as much prestige from a career or interest in the arts as it does. In any case, it wouldn't do much good, in my opinion, to try to "macho up" the arts, or by trying to erase "gayness" from ballet, because the lack of "masculinity" (that is, heterosexual masculinity) isn't an actual problem that has been measured, but a popular perception which isn't based on truth but on stereotypes. Rather than dumbing it all down to make people like it, or at least understand it, it would be better to have an effort to educate people, which is what it sounds like Alexandra did with the La Sylphide tape at her lecture, for example. If they see "normal" people explaining the arts to them, it might be less intimidating or less embarrassing. This wouldn't necessarily solve the question of how to get men into the door in the first place, however.

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I think "straight" men in a given audience may see ballet as a bunch of pretty girls and a bunch of sissies prancing about. (That's exactly what my brother-in-law said watching it on TV once.) It may also make them queasy about their own sexuality. A straight friend of mine, married & 2 kids, told me when he recently saw one of NYCB's hunks in BARBER VIOLIN CONCERTO that he felt uncomfortable and realized that he was feeling a sexual attraction to the dancer. Maybe that is more common than we realize.

In my experience, it's quite common. I've heard it from a few (straight) men, that the reason they had a hard time watching ballet was rooted in the whole "men in tights" phenomenon. One even said to me that he disliked ballet precisely because "I'm not comfortable enough with my sexuality to be able to watch a man putting himself on display like that," and another time, at a hardware store (yeah, I know...) I mentioned La Sylphide in a conversation, and I just happened to mention the kilts, and the clerk said, "God, imagine, a bunch of boy ballerinas in skirts!"

I'm not sure whether to call this sentiment homophobia per se, but it's definitely got something to do with a discomfort with the association of homosexuality with classical ballet. If there was no taboo against homosexuality, this wouldn't be as much of a problem as it is, just as if there was more gender equality, the tag of being "female" or "effeminate" wouldn't drain as much prestige from a career or interest in the arts as it does. In any case, it wouldn't do much good, in my opinion, to try to "macho up" the arts, or by trying to erase "gayness" from ballet, because the lack of "masculinity" (that is, heterosexual masculinity) isn't an actual problem that has been measured, but a popular perception which isn't based on truth but on stereotypes.

As a straight male I remember noticing, when I first attended the ballet, that a lot of the guys seemed gay. But I think it took me a few years to pay them much mind anyhow. :rolleyes: Once I did, it took me years -- actually I think it took a few ballet classes -- to be able to completely understand how a straight male could do those port de bras and not feel effeminate. Anyhow, I think eradicating the taboo against homosexuality would only go so far. I'm sure ballet makes some guys uncomfortable because they're attracted to guys against their will, but I don't think that's the only reason a lot of straight guys stay away.

I think Oberon's correct and I expect most people would agree: the body is always sexual to one degree or another, and ballet's beauty often carries a considerable erotic charge, however subordinated and at the same time enlarged and deepened, choreographically and musically, into so much more than mere physical attraction. But gay dancers come on strong, just like straight ones can, and there's no reason a straight person should enjoy a display of gay sexuality. As much as I admire Nureyev, I usually don't enjoy him for just that reason. Some would call that homophobia or unconscious same-sex attraction. I'd just call it heterosexual preference.

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Guest nycdog

B once said:

“The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and man is the gardener.” - Life 11 Jun 65

“In my ballets, woman is first. Men are consorts. God made men to sing the praises of women. They are not equal to men: They are better.” - Time 15 Sep 80

If the ballet really is so feminine then we should not be surprised that males are not interested. Generally speaking gay men are sensitive and more female like, that is the cliché anyway.

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This is part of the question. Why should we expect men to be uninterested in something that's considered feminine. We do not expect women to be uninterested in things that are masculilne. (Balanchine's definition isn't the only one, but that's another question.)

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I'm a straight man who likes math and science and art and literature.

It seems to me that there are several factors why men are less involved in art & literature.

Men work longer now and have more leisure time options. A century ago people made music to entertain themselves and their families. Then the invention and inexpensive distribution of recorded music reduced the need to do it yourself. People didn't become less musical, they just shifted from producers to consumers. Since the 1970s men have started working out, have easy access to recorded films, 10x the television channels, and videogames. Art is sacrificed to the time shortage.

Historically when women move into an area it loses stature and men move out. More women into art & literature would be expected to result in less men. This is probably more relevant than the feminine qualities of ballet.

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Why, however, do so many educated, straight men I know really seem to ENJOY modern dance (Philopolus, Limon, Parsons) while continuing to be genuinely bored, rather than repelled, by ballet?  I wonder whether the experience of France, where a number of classical ballet companies were converted to, or replaced by,  modern dance companies (or mixed companies like Lyons and, apparantely, Marseilles) in recent years, might give us some suggestions.  Why did this change occur?

As Alexandra wrote, I think much of the change was caused by economic reasons rather than artistic ones: for example, in Nancy the Ballet de Lorraine depended on the subsidies of the ministery of Culture, the region and the city, but the city (and perhaps also the region, I don't remember) decided to cut its subsidies, and maintaining a whole ballet company wasn't possible on a reduced budget... Also, I think there has been a lot of lobbying in favor of modern dance companies, and perhaps even some sort of "revenge" against ballet after decades when modern dance in France was almost absent and with very little subsidies... And probably ballet has never really been considered as "as noble" as some other arts like classical music or painting, which lessens its support among politicians, journalists, etc. (for example for decades there were many newspapers without a ballet critic, but just an article here or there by a music or sports (!) critic, and even one I think the state of the French dance critic is quite dreary- a lot of newspapers pay about zero attention to ballet).

Is there a difference between modern and classical audiences, either by gender, age, class, or whatever?  Are modern male French dancers perceived as somehow more masculine than classical dancers?  Is it cooler for boys to take contemporary dance lessons than to aspire to the Paris Opera Ballet school?

The only statistics I remember about some dance audience were the statistics for a small modern dance festival in Avignon (Les hivernales), if I remember correctly there was a majority of women but I don't remember the figures, but what striked me the most was in terms of social classes, as the "employés" and "ouvriers" (employees and workers) which are about 55% of the French population made less than 5% of the festival's audience (and the tickets were not especially expensive), while some other categories like students, teachers, "intellectual professions" were far more common among the festival's audience than in the general population. Unfortunately, I've never seen such detailed statistics about the ballet audience. But the modern audience doesn't strike me as far more female than the ballet audience, it might be a bit younger but I'm not sure. Also it probably depends a lot on the company and the dancing style... For example there are a few hip-hop company which probably have quite a lot of teen-aged males (and often from underprivileged backgrounds) in their audience.

This is getting a bit off-topic, but as some people mentioned the proportions of males and females in various field of studies, and actually it's striking to see how they can change depending on the period and the country (which makes believe that genetics have very little to do with that), for example the proportion of women among math Ph.D is about 20% in France, while it is much lower in Germany (a country in which, more generally, far fewer women work than in France, partly because the child care system is organized very differently, and working women with young children often are seen very negatively), and much higher in Italy, Portugal, or Serbia (I once shared a room during a math conference with a Serbian young woman who was doing a math PhD in Pennsylvania, and said that when arriving in the US she had been surprised at first to see that there were some special programs to encourage girls and women to study math, because in her home country there actually were more women than men among math students...)

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As an aside to this topic:

During his Sunday Miami City Ballet pre-curtain talk, Edward Villella responded to a question about how to expand male interest in ballet: "It's an effort to get men to think of us as terrifically refined athletes. Perhaps it would help if we had scores."

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It may be true that males flee institutions perceived as being "female" or feminine.  My impression is that this has increased in the past few decades, with our powerful mass culture -- films, tv and especially commercials -- enforcing rather limited stereotypes about gender behavior.  (The wife is usually the smart one now, and the man something of a genial lunkhead, unlike a while ago.  But the husband still loves (watching) sports with the boys and has to be seduced into going to the ballet to make the little woman happy.
In 1992 I gave a Bournonville lecture to the local Scandinavian-American Association. [...] These were not ballet people.  I showed them a video of "La Sylphide" and, not really knowing what I was doing, I started doing a "play by play," pointing out things that most dance people would know.  After it was over I stayed and talked to the audience in a more informal setting, and several men -- all middle-aged -- came up to me (making sure no one else was around) and said things like, "I've been dragged by my wife to the ballet for 30 years and I've hated it.  I never thought there was anything to it until tonight."  One man was quite angry.  "why didn't I know about this?" he said.

This reminds me of when I moved to the US and switched on the tv in my new place. (I had never even owned a tv.) It was Saturday and there was a football game. They were talking about the fourth quarter, so I thought I might as well give this incomprehensible running and bashing a shot, since it was going to be over in ten minutes or so. Little did I know… I have never managed to get the hang of sports, even though successive girlfriends were only too pleased to give me (à la Alexandra) a sense of what was going on.

What is of course surprising about Alexandra's lumberjack men is, they had been going to the ballet with their wives for many years, but apparently these wives never shared what they enjoyed about the ballet with their husbands in the intervals or on the ride back home. That would give them some grip on what they had been watching, wouldn't it? You don't really have to be an expert, and collect the equiv of baseball cards to enjoy ballet. Perhaps we do, but most people enjoy ballet as much as we do (maybe even more) without being able to name any of the steps. I don't think talking about techinique will unlock ballet for a lot of people.

No one gets as much out of a ballet show as pre-teen girls, and they don't have any technical bagagge either. But they do have tons of imagination, and ultimately that's what enjoying the ballet is about, whether you're watching Sleeping Beauty, Symphony in C or Van Manen. If it's just steps, you're lost. You need the imagination to connect the dots. You need to be able to say to yourself, "something wonderful is going to happen now." And yes, in most cases you have to be able to interest yourself in an event where the girls are more important than the boys. Personally I think that shouldn't be too hard for a straight man, but I know the stats prove me wrong.

I think Bart's sketch of what happened to gender roles in America is pretty much spot on. The US is even blessed with a prez now who prides himself on his lunkitude and walks with his arms out like he's got a pair of invisible sixshooters strapped to his hips. And unfortunately TV and movies are spreading these attitudes fast. The funny thing however is these he - she roles are all well embedded in the romantic ballets. The Swan Lake and Beauty princes aren't exactly geniuses either, not mention Coppélia's Franz.

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The image of the American man as a big, hulking, straight-from-the-hip nonintellectual is one that has been prevalent in American mass culture for years. Look at the roles played by the young Fred MacMurrray in films from the 30s and 40s -- that was the kind of guy that was perceived as the quintessential American hero, the regular guy, respected by men and adored by women. Whether women really did go for that type is open to question, but as boys were encouraged to adopt that kind of attitude they didn't have a lot of choice.

I think the issue that Alexandra posed at the outset of this thread -- "I know that the audience for ballet has become predominantly female (and I don't thnk this is a good thing) but I didn't know that reading, writing, painting and music were equally on the It's Not a Guy Thing list" -- is a problem mainly with American men, due to the models of masculinity that American boys are raised with. :wink:

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What is of course surprising about Alexandra's lumberjack men is, they had been going to the ballet with their wives for many years, but apparently these wives never shared what they enjoyed about the ballet with their husbands in the intervals or on the ride back home.

Unless the woman (who may be only a casual viewer) has the language to describe the often ineffable events that moved her, I can understand this communication gap. Alexandra, after all, is a professional commentator.

I grew up watching American football. It seemed that my high school year was organized around it in the fall. If at any time you do discover its appeal, Herman, please tell me. An ex-boyfriend (a dancer, as a matter of fact) once tried to sell me based on his thrill at (and he wouldn't object to my use of this word) its brutality.

And I love your coinage "lunkitude." :wink:

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I grew up watching American football.  It seemed that my high school year was organized around it in the fall.  If at any time you do discover its appeal, Herman, please tell me.

And me, too. I was a cheerleader in high school, and the only positive thing about cheering for football games was that we faced the crowd, with our backs to the action. Sadly, I had been well enough indoctrinated to understand the game, and had to watch enough to prompt the captain with the correct cheer to call, so that we didn't scream for a touchdown when our team was on defense.

If only they had been playing real football instead of bloodsport...

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