I have been training in ballet since the sixth grade, and while I have seen many aspects of the practice evolve over time (like the relationship between body image and dance), there is one thing that has remained consistent throughout my dance career: a severe lack of men. Men in dance, particularly ballet, are few and far between. Often times the social stigma surrounding men in dance causes ballet to have a lack of appeal to the male gender. In the world of ballet, men are a minority and often face harsh criticisms from members of their gender for their area of interest and talent, but despite this they continue to dance. In witnessing this first hand, I have gained an extraordinary amount of respect for boys in ballet and think we all need to learn a few things from their ever-present persistence.
Image via The Orange County Register
I admire the boys in ballet not because they are exceedingly beautiful or because I want to date them, but because of their resilience. People make fun of boys in ballet, often labeling them as “feminine” or “gay” simply as a result of their preferred hobby. It was for this reason that my father, along with many other men, quit dance and still regret it to this day.
The boys in ballet wear tights and–quite frankly–do not care what you think of them. They slip into their ballet shoes and turn and leap and enjoy feeling alive. They are strong not only physically, but emotionally as well. They choose to focus their energy on self-betterment, turning ridicule into motivation to push themselves further, expanding their talents while doing what they love and being indifferent to those ignorant enough to poke fun at them. They know they will be far more successful in the end. These boys are some of the most successful, admired, and happy people I know. The boys in ballet will continue to wear their tights and ballet slippers, and not give a damn what you or anyone else thinks.
Next time you feel insecure in your hobbies, interests, fashion sense, instagram feed, or what-have-you, remember that somewhere there is a man in tights who not only understands the pain of social scrutiny, but has been able to thrive in spite of it–and you can too. Doing what you love will bring you far more happiness than conforming to the opinions of others.
So, this one goes out to all the boys in ballet- we all need to be a little more like you.
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