Friday, 25 April 2014


What do you note in the image below?

Do you see it? Left versus right? 

All the women are in static, still poses. All the men are in dynamic poses. Why is this? 

I am assuming each dancer selected his and her pose and photo. Are women thinking they must look graceful (and, essentially, passive) and men that they must look active? Why do they think that? IMHO the men's photos are more impressive; I go to the ballet to see movement and their photos make me excited for what is about to come. Creating a balance of strength and grace is difficult and is one of the things I like about ballet, so the men's photos embody that for me (pun intended). 

Or, let me get creative here, do men feel more need to prove themselves in ballet, a world which the lay person more naturally associates with women? 

Carrying this to its logical conclusion - at least if you are in my head - brings me back to a previous post about how men are raised to have to prove themselves continuously, society does not tell them they have a choice. 

To note: this is from the playbill of the Atlanta ballet, the dancer bios. 


  1. This is a really good question. Let me offer a guess:

    I don't know a lot about ballet, but it seems to me that female dancing is a lot more technical than male dancing. For the women, the movements tend to accentuate grace and posture - often impossibly so - and pulling off those moves correctly and expressively involves an unbelievable (maybe incomprehensible to us outsiders) coordination of stabilizer muscles. The technique and athleticism involved isn't immediately obvious to the audience, and probably the less obvious it is, the better.

    But if men were to dance like that (especially next to a female dancer), it wouldn't "stand out" and be noticeable to the audience. In those scenes of every ballet, the attention is always on the woman. When do men stand out? When they're bounding, kicking, jumping, etc. In ballet, when the man is supposed to be the focal point of the dance, he's doing "Trepak" or something equally boisterous. It's very athletic, but I would argue less technical than what the women do.

    So, to me, the pictures merely reflect the technique of gender-specific ballet dancing.

    1. Veeery interesting and I certainly hadn't approached it from this view.

      This may also be where subjectivity comes in: while I agree that female and male dancing differs, what I like in both is that strength and dynamism. So even with female dancers I am looking at a high arabesque en pointe a how they make that look light and graceful, whereas it is actually so strenuous.

      So I guess my approach to the image above is: anybody can do the poses on the left. It takes a dancer to strike the poses on the right.

  2. Note, for example, the male dancer in the bottom picture. His whole body is tensed to show muscle and tone but then look at his left hand. That hand looks light as a feather. I find that beautiful