Changing Gender Roles in Ballet

27 Jul , 2015  

To apply the ideas of gender roles to my life, I looked at gender stereotypes and common gender roles of ballet dancers. In the age of romantic and classical ballet, women were the stars and men were there to assist the women in lifts and turns and so on. Women had to be feminine to play the roles while men were masculine. As dance has evolved and time has progressed, these stereotypes changing. If you were to compare ballet to the rest of society at any given point in history, ballets are representative of society as a whole meaning the romatic era when women were potrayed as feminine, women of society were also widely viewed as supposed to be feminine. Today ballet isn’t all about the queen ballerina floating across the stage. The athleticism of ballet is shown in women and men creating a power that women in ballet did not always have and creating a spotlight for men to be more than an assistant for the ballerina.


In this article and video clip, my friend Ivan Putrov’s show Men in Motion is described and is extremely relatable to this chapter on gender. The stereotypes which male ballet dancers face include being “feminine, homosexual, wimp, spoiled, gay, dainty, fragile, weak, fluffy, woosy, prissy, artsy and sissy,” according to a 2003 sociological study (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_stereotype_of_the_male_ballet_dancer). The truth about male ballet dancers is that they are incredible athletic. Many male roles require a feminine characteristic and seeing a male ballet dancer create femininity is something very beautiful, just as seeing a female ballet dancer embody a strong masculine role is pleasing. In Ivan Putrov’s show, there are no female ballet dancers, it’s all about the men. This show has gained impressive traction in Europe, and hopefully will come to America sometime soon because it is such a unique creation that is inspiring to ballet dancers and to creating updated gender roles.

The Richmond ballet is presenting a show called Window’s in the Fall of 2015. In this program, the eras of ballet are all expressed almost like a view of ballet through history. This summer, my ballet class has been working on the first movement of the show that is the style of romantic ballet. Romantic ballet is all about ethereal movement and emotions. The second movement is about Russian classical ballet and the last movement is in the style of modern and futuristic dancing. Each section requires different gender roles and acting skills which creates a really interesting piece when put together.

Gender roles are very important in ballet. For a long time the roles have been very traditional, but more change like the Men in Motion show, has promoted a wider range of gender roles for female and male ballet dancers. I believe that maintaining the classical ballets with traditional roles is important because they’re a part of ballet history, but developing new ballets and pieces is very important too. There’s always a story or an emotion behind dancing and choreographers can use ballets as a way of saying something. People like Ivan Putrov are using dance in a very powerful way to make a statement. This is something that supports changing gender roles and allows dancers new freedoms in their movement and characteristics on stage.



4 Responses

  1. pilakapp says:

    Your blog really made me rethink gender roles. I never really thought about how gender roles effect dance. I always thought about men as being the strength and muscle that carried, twirled, and lifted women in the air. After reading your blog I now realize that I have a very stereotypical perspective on gender roles in ballet.

    This makes me wonder how much gender roles and other sociological traditions effect our everyday lives without us knowing.

    After reading your blog I realize that these gender roles can really inhibit each gender from achieving their full potential! For example, if men stayed conformed to the role social dictates we may never know how beautifully graceful, elegant, or feminine their dance could potentially be.

  2. charles717 says:

    Gotta say that this post seems to be very near and dear to you. I like how you explained the long time view of males in ballet and how it was mainly viewed as a feminine sport. As time has evolved I agree that more and more people are beginning to eliminate gender stereotypes from this sport and are looking a both men and women as athletes performing a beautiful art. Great use of outside articles to help support your stance. Great Post!

  3. Good example regarding gender stereotypies. And the stereotypes include sexuality, too, don’t they? (Male ballet dancers are gay, etc.)

  4. I’m always intrigued and glued to the story behind the extraordinary movement in every ballet show I have ever watched, I think its such a beautiful thing and gender bias has no place in this art!

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