Ballet News | Are you man enough for ballet ?

October 27, 2011

Ballet News

Ballet News | Are you man enough for ballet ?

ballet dancers

Photograph : Casey Herd No unauthorised reproduction of this photograph is permitted

Sefton Clarke and Maia Makhateli, both senior dancers with Dutch National Ballet, recently shot this poster, taken by fellow dancer Casey Herd. Due to a massive response from Ballet News readers on facebook, Sefton has made the poster available via eBay. Despite popular opinion, not everyone is on facebook and I wanted to write about the story behind the photo.

Ballet for Men

I’m very keen to support this initiative by the dancers because I receive a fair amount of mail from student dancers who either struggle to admit to their peers that they are taking ballet classes, or who are subjected to taunts from those who don’t understand what it takes to be a ballet dancer. If you find it difficult to explain what you do in ballet class, get hold of this poster and show it to those who taunt you. Can they do this lift ?  I’d love for this poster to be in every school in the world – and not only the ballet schools!

So what is the background to this photograph ? Clarke expands, “the photos were a backlash to Black Swan! It was all about the girl and what a mess she was. When you get to that level you’ll find that the principal dancers are some of the most level headed people you will find, they have to be! And the guys didn’t get any recognition! It’s to show the hard work that we as male dancers put it and what it takes to be one.”

What sort of reaction does Clarke receive, as a ballet dancer ? “I’ve been around the world and taken many courses on nutrition, training and such (it’s an interest of mine). Every time I’ve had to stand up and introduce myself, as soon as I say I’m a classical dancer, I’m met with respect and acknowledgement of what I’ve done to get where I am from some of the most well respected and well known people in the strength and conditioning world.

So, for all the young dancers out there : be proud of what you do. When you say that you are a classical dancer, say it with pride and you’ll be met with respect; and when you say it with pride those that don’t know anything, won’t say anything!”

This photograph demonstrates the strength and grace that takes years – more than 10 years – to achieve for a professional ballet dancer. If you reach this level, you are an elite athlete in your own right. I’d say that the ballet dancer has an edge over other elite athletes – because they are allowed to show the amount of effort and exertion their sport requires.  Ballet dancers are not.

Ballet training isn’t about pink tights and skipping about.  The men have to build upper body strength to lift the girls, all the while concealing the effort needed to look make it look graceful and easy. They need to be able to jump powerfully and precisely, landing neatly on one foot and turning quickly, ready for the next jump. Heed Sefton Clarke’s advice and good luck with your training!

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