Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Was it something I said?

What is it with women in ballet classes?

Recently I've noticed that, with the exception of a couple of regulars, none of the women seem to be willing to share one of the portable barres with me. Last week, a woman picked up her stuff and moved to another barre already occupied by two other women when I went to stand at the other end of the barre she was going to use. This evening that spot was empty while some other barres had three people. It just seems silly to crowd the other barres when there's open space at the one I'm using.

It's not like I'm unwashed; Saturday I was no more than 90 minutes out of the shower and I always wash my dance gear between classes. At 5'10" I'm not so tall that I'm going to kick someone, and no one seems to have a problem standing at the barre that's end-to-end with mine. It's just sharing that piece of steel pipe that seems to freak them out.

I brought this up with a couple female (non-dancer) friends. Some have opined that many women have body image issues, and standing in front of a man wearing a leotard and tights upsets them. Others suggest that I'm intruding into "safe girl space" by even being in a ballet class. Dare I use the word misandry in this situation? It's not like I just wandered in off the street and started drooling. As much as I appreciate the female form, I'm far too busy trying to get my form to follow the steps to ogle theirs.

In better news, it seems they've made yet another effort to clean the floor of excess rosin. Tonight it squeaked rather than sounding like flypaper. Add a little dust for lubrication and it should be just about right.

We did the combination I described in a recent post. The instructor said its name again, but I didn't recognize it and soon was too busy trying to do it to remember the word she said. But after seeing it a second time I think I got the description correct. Quite a few of the other students had a real problem handling a sissonne that didn't change feet (i.e., the working foot both opens and closes in front). Most if not all of the examples I've seen in books or in videos change, so it seems likely they learned it that way. My problem, on the other hand, is that we did it at the very end again, right after jumps, and my energy level is at its lowest ebb then.

Oh, I almost forgot. Rheumatic Princess recently posted about having a moment when the stars align and suddenly you're totally balanced and can seemingly hold a position forever. I had one of those moments this evening: attitude derrière on demi-pointe, right arm high in fifth, and I suddenly felt balanced. Tentatively I let go of the barre entirely, then raised my left arm to match the right. Still balanced. It was the last position in the exercise, and I held it longer than I was supposed to -- until the music stopped -- then stretched to an arabesque and came down in a controlled plié. I was kinda in shock, and the instructor gave me a compliment. It was a wild feeling.


  1. Aw. I would share a barre with you! I think it's sad that we don't have any guys in class. If I'm going to look like a hot mess anyway it isn't going to make it any better or worse to stand next to a dude.
    A lot of women have a hard time relating to men in any capacity because they assume their thought patterns are unfathomable (or they believe their thought patterns consist entirely of "sex sex sex sex sex"). Men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. I often say that if I ever wrote a relationship book it would be called "Men are from Earth, Women are from Earth"

    1. Thanks for the reply. We have our own troubles understanding how women think. Like a friend's wife who was fine running around in sweats in front of her husband and me, but had to spend an hour on hair and makeup before going to the dump of a pizza place down the street.

      What really befuddles me is that some of these same women who won't share a barre with me give me honest smiles when they notice me moving to make sure I'm not blocking their view of the mirror.

  2. Aww that is really sad. We've never had that problem in our class, but then again I also used to go with a male friend - so I might be biased.
    I might avoid the barre with the best student in class though... that can be intimidating, and also sometimes they upgrade the exercises to be at their level so to speak and it confuses me.

    1. Thanks. It isn't going to stop me from going to class, but it's a bit annoying.

      I'm far from the best student in class, but I'm not the worst either. I'm guessing I'm just a little below median, having just moved up from the next lower class. But I understand your point.

  3. That's a bummer, Reece. Sadly, it's a rare occurrence to have a man in our classes (we could use them desperately!), so I can't offer much in the way of advice. The only people I tend to avoid standing near at the barre are the silly ones or those who have spatial awareness challenges! It doesn't sound like you fall into either of those categories.

    Then again, I was having a conversation with some coworkers the other day -- all nurses, like myself -- and one of them was saying that she didn't like working with male nurses and she wouldn't want one to care for her if she were a patient. I really do not understand that line of thinking, but there are plenty of women out there who share it, unfortunately. This kind of goes along with the "safe girl space" theory of your friend.

    Congrats on your balance, though! I love those moments... and the good news is that the longer you dance, the moments happen more frequently!

  4. I'd share the barre with you as well! I am happy that there are so many men in our ballet class - it makes the class more diverse and thus, more inspiring. Also, I often find male dancers beautiful to watch, so I have to confess that I enjoy watching them dancing, even though I have to concentrate on my on steps most of the time! :-)

  5. Wow...I'm really shocked and a bit sad that these women are behaving this way :( I can't understand it myself, but I have two beloved brothers and grew up playing sports with boys and getting multiple degrees in science/engineering with mostly male classmates. So here's another vote from a non-prissy female dancer who would gladly share the barre with you. There are 2-3 guys in my ballet classes and from what i can tell, they are all just one of the students and well-liked by all, if maybe even a little bit popular by way of scarcity. :)

  6. Let me offer another theory: it's possible that your fellow female students simply perceive you as needing more space. Women do tend to defer to men in many respects. Additionally, one thing I've observed in adult ballet class is the powerful force of habit and perceived unofficial rules. It may be as simple as your having been observed standing alone at the bar once or twice for a relatively random reason and your female classmates having assumed as a result of this that it's your preference not to have to share your barre. In the small space of my studio, having one's own barre is a highly-coveted luxury! Don't knock it! : )

    Oh and cut that girl some slack!! Going out to the pizza place is obviously a high point for her. Everybody gotta get dolled up sometime.


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