Received the email below from a male reader, with a question about the ladies.
Ladies, maybe you can offer some insights.
Dudes, maybe you can offer some insights.
To The Adult Beginner,
I’m wondering if you might offer some perspective for me, and other dancing dudes, who dare to crash the girls club and hit the barre.
As 40-something husband and father who has danced off and on since middle school, I’ve spent more than a few years pushing through b-s peer pressure and social baggage to allow myself to enjoy ballet. But even after all these years, there’s plenty of anxiety can still kick in before class. Yes, I worry about how I look in tights. Yes, I worry that my flesh-colored slippers are more pink than flesh. Yes, I worry that I’ll never do a decent pique turn combination. Ugh. Self-doubt sucks.
Fear and loathing aside, I was prompted to write you following a recent encounter. Here’s how it went down…
It was a very warm afternoon and I arrived several minutes early to get in some stretching before class. I enter the studio and greet the teacher, whom I’ve taken classes with for some time. While we talked, a woman seated on the floor putting on her slippers looked up at me in complete and utter shock. Horror, even, with eyebrows arched and mouth askew. Uh oh. What did I do? Quick!…damage control!
I offered a friendly smile and introduced myself. She reciprocated in kind, but her body language changed very little. I was resigned to the fact that I had just ruined this lady’s afternoon, but then she made the following statement: “Wow! This is sooo cool…having class with a guy in it!”
Never before in my dancing life have I heard anything like this. Ever.
For non-professionals, the ballet studio is a world where I’m guessing most guys never truly feel comfortable. But why? Are these uneasy feelings just in our heads? Do ladies prefer their ballet class to be a testosterone-free zone? Can’t we all just get in there and do our thing? The trappings of society can have your head spinning faster than a sequence of chaines turns.
What say you, Adult Beginner?
Ok Rico. What I say is:
I hear you on those chainés turns.
My guess is that this lady looked up, saw you, and thought, “Fuck, I knew I should’ve worn a bra today!” Or something similarly self conscious.
I mean, if I were going to pull a face of horror at some dude, it would be entirely about myself and the crimes against fashion and possibly decency he was about to witness.
I’m all for men in ballet class. Teachers tend to bring out the power-moves, and, honestly, it’s a great confirmation of how hard I’m working when I see a man sweaty, shaky, legs about to give out, doing the exact same things that I’m doing. Especially awesome if I’m doing those same things while looking calm and cool and maybe even smiling a little.
It’s the best.
Thing is though, the smaller your class, the less and less likely there will be any male students at all. This is just a reality of adult ballet, as you well know.
My regular class is small, men are so rare that I actually did a post about it once when one showed up.
Therefor, I think her comment about it being soooooo cool to have a guy in class can be taken at face value. It is cool, and she probably just had really never experienced it before, and then suddenly realized what her face was doing and said that thing to reassure you that she was cool even though she was surprised.
That’s just my guess.
Gentle Reader, what say you?