Sickly sweet girls in tutus, glitter and pointe shoes are what immediately spring to mind when the word “Ballet” is entered into a conversation. The modern myths of this ancient art form have stuck through the years, and I am here to set the records straight on the assumptions people make of ballet in the contemporary world; both about performing and watching this genre of dance.
Firstly, the ballet theatre is not stamped with a “girls only” sign on the stage. The undermining illusion that all male ballet dancers are feminine due to dancing in tights and slippers is ludicrous. The Athleticism in ballet is incredibly important, and ballet dancers complete manoeuvres that many other athletes would scarcely attempt! The time, fitness and hard work that are built up from a young age are not even shown for a second to the audience when the dancers glide effortlessly on stage. If the strength needed to transfer all your body weight from the tip of one toe seamlessly to the next, or land a triple pirouette in silence, is not showing enough skill and complete masculinity from a male dancer, then there is nothing on earth that will.
Many people groan whenever I say I am going to watch a ballet. Their justification is thats its “boring” and for “old” people. Although Ballet has originated from the 17th century, it is still extremely popular today, with young people as well as old. The music and the contemporary style of dance has changed drastically from The Nutcracker, with modern genres of music (such as hip hop and rap) being played over a high level of dance, shown in productions such as In the Upper Room or Radio and Juliet. Additionally, if you have ever enjoyed a film, then its likely you will enjoy a ballet (yes, even a classical one). They are roughly the same length as a film, and they are a good variation from the cinema, whilst broadening your mind to new things.
Now for a more general rumor. The one where all ballerinas where tutus all the time, and constantly dance on their tippy toes. This, I’m afraid, could not be further from the truth. The only time I have ever worn a tutu whilst dancing was in a ballet show when I was 12, and as for going en pointe? It is used for fast pace pieces and the shoes may not even be worn in the majority of modern performances that you may see. Contrastingly, despite popular fabrication, the Ballet is not ridiculously expensive and tickets can be bought for under £25 easily in some instances. Roughly the same price as a concert- now you have no excuse not to go!
I hope by the end of this article I have opened your eyes to the world of dance, and that now you know the truth behind the tiaras and the satin shoes that may given you the wrong impression at first glance. Many modern ballets are extremely wacky and wild- such as Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissor Hands that has recently premiered. On the other hand, the classical adaptations of Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker will always be shown somewhere local to you- enjoy! (And practice your fouettés while you’re at it).