Male Ballet Dancers

Sofia Georgaklis, Sports Writing Editor

Long thin legs, flouncy pink tutu and a perfectly slicked-back bun. For males, this image of a ballet dancer could not be further from the truth.

Senior Jared Shanks has participated in dance and theater, but began ballet this year. His interest in ballet was inspired by the many versatile basics that it provides, which are used throughout several other styles of dance.

Shanks said he sees the lack of men who participate in ballet as a disappointment.

“There’s a lot of really interesting things you can do with a male dancer, and male and female pairs, and some amazing athletics that you can do in ballet,” Shanks said.

Being one of the few males participating in ballet can have some disadvantages, according to Shanks.

“I have to figure a lot out on my own because most of the people teaching me are very flexible women,” Shanks said. “There’s a lot of finding it in myself, and it’s a lot of dealing with failure because I’m not always good on the first time.”

According to freshman Matthew Steele, male ballet dancers do not get the credit they deserve.

“When I danced ballet, I was one of two guys in my class. I found the strength needed for ballet to come more naturally to me, but the flexibility part to be difficult,” Steele said.

Steele said he finds some male ballet dancers are adroit and talented due to the specific set of skills needed to thrive in the art.

“I admire male ballet dancers because of the amount of strength needed to do the things they do,” Steele said. “Ballet has a very strict set of rules, making it, in my opinion, the most difficult dance style to learn and to perform. Those who are capable of learning and dancing ballet are truly extraordinary people.”

According to Shanks, there are several benefits of dancing ballet, such as learning basics for other styles of dance and improving body posture. Steele said it is a good opportunity to work with a diverse group of people.

“I love dancing ballet because I get to dance with people of very different backgrounds and different skill levels,” Steele said. “I love the experience and would do anything to see more male ballet dancers.”