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SOUSA KID

Why are guys considered ''sissy's if they dance ballet?

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Sousa_Kid, have you registered at our sister site, BalletTalk for Dancers? There's a quick link beneath the banner atop this page. They have a Men's forum. While the two boards share many members, most tend to favor one over the other (we're the audience side :thumbsup: ). I suspect this has been discussed on the Dancers' board. And if not, I'm sure you'll find many topics of interest.

I think Helene hit on something here:

So I would add prejudice to ignorance, specifically sexism, i.e. anything woman-centric=emasculation of men. . . "
I would add "devaluation of the endeavor."

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Billy, several years ago there was an American figure-skating couple (I can't remember their names, but some of our skating fans will!) who were always billed as "HE is a truck driver, SHE is a waitress." Can't get more American than that. There was an interview with the man that I'll always remember. He had seen the Russian men, most of whom had ballet training, and was visibly jealous at their artistry. "Why don't we have that here?" he asked. I think you've answered why. Long, long ago men were supposed to be graceful and gracious, sensitive and sophisticated. That's out of fashion now. Bring it back!! :thumbsup:
I'm really honered Alexandra to be be encouraged to dance classical ballet by someone of your great background! I've got a subscription to "Point" magazine, yet I've yet to read your "Dance View" I'd love to keep in touch with you and be inspired by ballet. Billy

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To echo Carbro's suggestion, if you do a search on Ballet Talk for Dancers, you will find quite a bit of material, not just in the Men's forum, but also in the Parents of Boys Who Dance forum and maybe other places as well.

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Billy, several years ago there was an American figure-skating couple (I can't remember their names, but some of our skating fans will!) who were always billed as "HE is a truck driver, SHE is a waitress." Can't get more American than that.

Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval. Nice kids.

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I am originally from Afghanistan and grew up in Iran where men always dance and every body reads poetry. Believe it or not when I started ballet I had absolutely no problem with men dancing gracefully and beautifully. And when I show ballet to my Iranian or Afghan friends who have never seen ballet in their entire life , they love it. One more interesting thing about this is that they do not love it for the athletisicm or virtuosity of the men, but for the actual dancing.

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[T]hey do not love it for the athletisicm or virtuosity of the men, but for the actual dancing.
NO! :thumbsup:

I wish more Americans saw ballet through eyes like those of your Afghani and Iranian friends!

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I am flabbergasted that people would think just that. Ballet is one of the highest arts werther for girls or boys. Just ignore people with that sort of opinions.

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omshanti,

You post underscores how our cultures strongly influences how we see the world.

Yet as the world grows smaller as a result of travel and so forth... cultures merge. blend and there is cross pollination of values.

American is the example of a cultural melting pot, though it is deeply steeped in eurocentric aesthetics... at least the "high culture/arts" part. But it should also be noted that America is hardly a culture as a whole which embraces the arts... but one that has pockets arts communities scattered throughout... representing cultures from around the world.

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I still think it's cause America is John Wayne country and guys who like gettin Pretty are outcasts! I'll keep dancin classical ballet anyway! Billy

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Sousa,

Yes it is.. a vaste cultural, even bigoted wasteland... but there are pockets where you can escape from the provincialism.

Go dance!

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What is the cultural perception of men in ballet like in China and Japan? Both countries seem to have taken to ballet big time.

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Ostrich,

Very good point there! Asia seems to have taken to ballet in a great way, and not only the two countries you mentioned, but also the Phillipines, and a TV station broadcasting lots of ballet, Arirang from South Corea. (More details in another forum). They do not seem to have troubles with men dancing.

Yet, in Asia there are white spots on the map. India!? Quite a few Arab countries as well.

Personally I can speak of where I grew up as a child - Sweden. In my childhood male dancing was really frowned upon - good grief if a f.ex. a bank manager's son suddenly would announce that he wanted to do ballet. He would have been disowned on the spot! Luckily, that attitude has changed, as I saw when my daughter went to the Swedish state school. The parents of the boys attending there all seemed to be very proud of their sons.

I also lived in southern Spain, in Andalucia, and was quite involved with flamenco. There were no sneaky feelings or whisperings behind the backs of boys and men doing flamenco - if they were good they were idols! And those guys were generally very macho.

This is one of the most interesting threads for a long time, IMO. :wink: :huepfen024:

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Thanks Pam, .....What about my theory of Pretty men (Or boys) are taboo in America?? Real Men don't dance Classical Ballet

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omshanti,

You post underscores how our cultures strongly influences how we see the world.

Yet as the world grows smaller as a result of travel and so forth... cultures merge. blend and there is cross pollination of values.

DefJef , I really agree with you. The world is growing smaller and every where is becoming more and more similar.

Yet I think it is not only the culture that influences how you see the world, but also the language you speak, maybe even more so although those two things are very much interconnected. Each language is a window and philosophy by itself ( If any body has difficulty undrestanding this please let me know, I will try to explain ).

Ostrich,

Very good point there! Asia seems to have taken to ballet in a great way, and not only the two countries you mentioned, but also the Phillipines, and a TV station broadcasting lots of ballet, Arirang from South Corea. (More details in another forum). They do not seem to have troubles with men dancing.

Yet, in Asia there are white spots on the map. India!? Quite a few Arab countries as well

Pamela , Even though India and some Arab countries are categorized as Asia geographically ,they are completely different from the Far east countries. And I think one of the reasons that ballet is popular in some countries and not popular in others is by chance. If you think about most of Africa ,it is not because they did not accept ballet but it is simply bacause nobody took ballet there. Countries like Japan and China simply had more people coming from Russia and introducing ballet. Also religion of the countries have alot to do if countries will accept ballet or not once they are introduced to it. Most Arab countries are muslim and they probably have more problem with the female dancers in ballet. India is completely different matter again. It has such a deep culture of its own which is very much alive that probably had no space left for ballet even if it was introduced to it. One more thing is that You can not overlook the wealth of each country or war situations. Ofcourse things will be different from now on since the world is growing smaller and smaller as DefJef pointed out.

But let me point out something about Japan which I imagine to be quite similar in other far east countries, since I am half Japanese (my mother is Japnese) and live in Japan at the moment. In Japan there is an underlining complex that caucasoid race is superior to mongoloid race, and people take in anything western with unnatural and twisted obsesssion to overcome this complex. Ballet is one of those things that they do to make themselves feel better. The reason men have no problem with ballet in Japan even though its culture and language has huge fixed ideas about masculinity and femininity is that the gay culture is very much hidden here therefore ballet does not get associated with gay culture.

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Women, and things associated with women, are not valued, and until that changes, young men who study ballet will be considered "sissy".

Amen!!

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Well, very few companies have travelled to India, and very few schools have been set up - but from what I understand, the touring companies do very well. The Royal Ballet's touring company travelled to Bombay and apparently had good reception (this was when... 70s??? I can look it up if folks want?).

When I was there for a 7.5 month research trip I tried to find schools. Apparently there was an RAD-based school in Bombay and the Russian Embassy's cultural division supposedly runs classes in Delhi. I was far from either, I'm afraid.

While I was there Akram Khan's company came through Delhi to a good reception.

But there's loads of dance (if we aren't going to talk only about ballet), and it's somehow 'cooler' for guys to dance - they often perceive what they are doing as quite macho, whereas in the U.S. we'd probably think of some of it as rather effeminate/'too pretty for boys'. Bollywood obviously has a lot ot do with this. And you have classes for Bollywood dancing, classical Indian dancing, and folk dancing. And the boys are out there, whole heartedly, and they can MOVE.

The best part is that this seems to transmit all sorts of social/class boundaries. Of course, who goes where to dance during the festivals is a different matter... but everyone's dancing!

As it happens, I also work in West Africa. There's a simultaneous Muslim and Born-Again Christian revival happening, that seems to draw strict lines between 'religion' and 'culture' and tries to make religion culture, if that makes sense.

But, from BT4D, and my own inquiries after, there is definitely a small arts school in Ghana which does teach ballet. Run by an American, Christian NGO.

And then you have South Africa, completely different story!!!

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The reason men have no problem with ballet in Japan even though its culture and language has huge fixed ideas about masculinity and femininity is that the gay culture is very much hidden here therefore ballet does not get associated with gay culture.

The reason that in Japan men do not get teased for doing ballet is because here ballet does not have the stigma or prejudice that comes as baggage in some countries( I am correcting my own post). I do not know why this is the case.

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But there's loads of dance (if we aren't going to talk only about ballet), and it's somehow 'cooler' for guys to dance - they often perceive what they are doing as quite macho, whereas in the U.S. we'd probably think of some of it as rather effeminate/'too pretty for boys'. Bollywood obviously has a lot ot do with this. And you have classes for Bollywood dancing, classical Indian dancing, and folk dancing. And the boys are out there, whole heartedly, and they can MOVE.

The best part is that this seems to transmit all sorts of social/class boundaries. Of course, who goes where to dance during the festivals is a different matter... but everyone's dancing!

Bollywood actors do many things that most American men would clasify as "sissy", they dance, cry, hug each other and so on. In India it's completely normal for heterosexual men to hold hands or walk with their arms around each other. I remember my first time in Pune walking around with my husband in the neighborhood he grew up in. All the boys and men walking together were holding hands. I asked my husband if this was the gay part of town. :wink: He explained that's how they show affection for each other. Don't they do that in America? It made me realize how homophobic American society is. Any male behaviour beyond the status quo (sports, getting women in the sack etc,) is suspect to accusations of being gay. In my daughter's ballet class their are 16 little girls, no boys. I find it incredibly sad.

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Don't they do that in America? It made me realize how homophobic American society is. Any male behaviour beyond the status quo (sports, getting women in the sack etc,) is suspect to accusations of being gay. In my daughter's ballet class their are 16 little girls, no boys. I find it incredibly sad.

Whacking each other on the butt in football (American football) is about as close as they get, unless there are several layers of hockey padding in that post-goal hug, with the exception of the post-championship pile-up.

Yesterday, some work colleagues were watching the World Cup game between Spain and France over lunch. When the game ended, and the players hugged, I heard at least two comments about "those European guys hugging and kissing." And I don't think he was kidding when one of them said to turn off the TV.

And when long-time and beloved Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez retired a few years ago, a long line of fellow players, current and retired, stood in line to give him a hug. All but one did the "guy hug": lean in at waist and touch top of shoulders, pat, pat on the back. Only one (I can't remember who) actually gave him a full-body hug.

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Don't they do that in America? It made me realize how homophobic American society is. Any male behaviour beyond the status quo (sports, getting women in the sack etc,) is suspect to accusations of being gay. In my daughter's ballet class their are 16 little girls, no boys. I find it incredibly sad.

Whacking each other on the butt in football (American football) is about as close as they get, unless there are several layers of hockey padding in that post-goal hug, with the exception of the post-championship pile-up.

Yesterday, some work colleagues were watching the World Cup game between Spain and France over lunch. When the game ended, and the players hugged, I heard at least two comments about "those European guys hugging and kissing." And I don't think he was kidding when one of them said to turn off the TV.

hug.

This is a complex issue. Are European sports fans more accepting of homosexuality that American ones? Perhaps so, but I don't think that American males uncomfortable with hugging and kissing other men are always homophobic. (I presume that the guy who wanted the set turned off wasn't dumb enough to think the hugging players were gay). Many men just aren't comfortable with more physical intimacy than they've grown up with. Their aversion to hugging is instinctual, not intellectualized. Conversely, I've met men who didn't approve of homosexuality but were huggers.

Likewise, while I don't mean to discount the homophobia that does shape some reactions to ballet, I don't believe that male dislike of ballet is always homophobic. I think a lot of guys, especially at first, casual glance, just don't relate to male dancing deportment. To turn things around, how many male balletomanes are sports fans? We wouldn't call them prejudiced for lacking interest in an alien athletic aesthetic.

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This is a complex issue. Are European sports fans more accepting of homosexuality that American ones? Perhaps so, but I don't think that American males uncomfortable with hugging and kissing other men are always homophobic. (I presume that the guy who wanted the set turned off wasn't dumb enough to think the hugging players were gay). Many men just aren't comfortable with more physical intimacy than they've grown up with. Their aversion to hugging is instinctual, not intellectualized. Conversely, I've met men who didn't approve of homosexuality but were huggers.
I agree that this is complex, but the number of men I've observed who do hug, and then make a little "funny" comment like, "this doesn't mean I'm gay" does suggest an underlying issue.

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had no space left for ballet even if it was introduced to it. One more thing is that You can not overlook the wealth of each country

Though the US is a very wealthy country now it wasn’t a comparatively short time ago. This is a very young society. American pioneers for the most part didn’t have time for cultural things because of building homes, farms and industries. For the majority of the population a man was praised not for cultural sensitivity but for his work ethic and ability to protect and provide for his family. Even as most immigrants have come to this country, with rich cultural art heritage, the arts have had a lower priority because trying to get established took priority and working physically hard at manual labor was praised in men. As a family or community gets more secure they can persue the arts more. The Puritan religion also plays a part in this, because that society comparatively wasn’t that long ago. Currently there are religious groups that don’t allow dancing by males or females. Modesty beliefs also factor in here. There are of course exceptions to this. The Mormon culture is one.

As the Mormon pioneers traveled west they were encourage after walking all day to have a dance after supper, if the group was well, to keep their spirits up. The first building in the Utah territory was a Cultural Hall. It was to be a temporary place for worship until church buildings could be built, but primarily as a place to have community meetings and dances. From this culture sprang the Christensen Brothers (descendants of Mormon pioneers). At Brigham Young University, while the dress code for girls is quite strict on leotard styles for modesty reasons, the boys are required to wear tights.

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In defense of the good old USA, I mention that, while our society has a way to go in some areas, I’ve noted in this thread that it’s being compared unfavorably to countries that have plenty of such cultural issues of their own that are in some respects much worse than anything going on here. I’m not suggesting that we can’t make criticisms – we can and we should – just pointing this out for the record.

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America is built from a puritan background. Having said that we are a multicultural society and one can find pockets or almost anything here if you look in the right place.

We may not be a country where dance and especially ballet is embraced by "everyman" but we do have some of the best ballet companies and schools, teachers, dancers and choreographers in the world.

And I suppose it may not be a bad thing. When things get so popular they tend to get dumbed down to make them more acceptable to the great mass of people. That would be awful for ballet.

Just try to deal with what we have and struggle for some incremental improvements.

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I said it before and I will say it again: this is one of the most interesting discussions any time.

Omshanti pointed out that in the case of India, they have a very rich and deep culture of their own. Yes, I do agree. Here we can draw parallels to Spain, at least southern Spain where flamenco is popular, but also the north where they have jota etc. So, Spain has a dance heritage, that we cannot dispute.

Yet, in the beginning of the seventies I started teaching there and balletwise it was virgin territory. I cannot remember meeting hostility, but indifference. "Why do we want ballet, we have so much dancing of our own".

But most people were favorably disposed.

Then look at Spain today! There are quite a few Spanish dancers about, both male and female and they are

good, world class.

What I mean by setting this example of which I have personal experience, is that a country, we can name India or any other Asian or African country, can quickly become a ballet nation. The girls will start and then the boys will follow. Things do change very fast these days.

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