Men & Ballet

Getting started

So you’ve decided to take ballet, good for you.  Ballet needs you, and as many guys as it can get, you will love it! Now that your signed up you will need a few things before you take your first plié. Not sure what you need? I’ve been dancing for a few years now, and I thought I’d let you know just what I bring with me to each and every ballet class. Here is what I keep in my dance bag.

My dance bag, a messenger style bag for no other reason because it makes riding my bike to class much easier. Use whatever you have, it doesn’t have to be anything special, just big enough to get your gear from A to B and back again. The basics first, items you will need for each and every ballet class you will ever take. Check with your school if they require anything specific.

Tights The big T! Many will feel a bit apprehensive about this at first, but it’s not that big of a deal, you may even grow to like them, I have. You may feel self-conscious at first, but the surprising truth is, nobody cares, not a one, judgment will not be passed by anyone. Chances are many of your classmates will be in tights too. Bicycle style shorts or athletic leggings will work well as well.

T-shirt Chances are you probably have a drawer full of them already. A simple plain colored t-shirt is all you need.

Ballet slippers.  This is a no-brainer, you gotta’ have them. Ballet is hard enough trying to dance barefoot or in socks isn’t going to be easy. Ballet shoes, or slippers come in many styles and materials. A good dancewear shop will help you choose what you need.

Dancebelt. Welcome to thong city guys, think of it as a jockstrap for dancing.  Basically it’s karmic retribution for the girls suffering in pointe shoes. You want to keep your boys safe and protected, and this is the best way to do it. The last think you want to do is attempt ballet without one. It also helps to disguise what you have going on down there especially when your wearing tights. Again it’s another item that will take some time to get used to.

Dancebelt. Don´t dance without!
Water Bottle You will be surprised just how strenuous a ballet class can be, you’ll walk out of the studio sweaty and tired.  Just like any sport, and ballet is a sport, you need to stay hydrated. I keep a bottle near me at the barre. Make sure the lid is on tight; you might find yourself standing in a pool of water.

Personally, I carry two pair of almost everything; tights, shoes and dancebelt. You never know when you might need to change or you find that something was left at home; this is something I do all the time. I had a leaky water bottle once and soaked half everything I had in my bag; luckily I had a dry version of everything I needed.

If you dig a bit deeper you’ll find:

·  Theraband. I like to get to class early to stretch and get muscles nice and limber up with the theraband. Basically it’s like a giant rubber band, a good tool to help stretch and work out problem areas.

·  Advil, Ace Bandage, trainers’ tape… Whatever it takes to get you through class or to take care of you after. These are here just in case, you never know when it might be sore.

·  Needle and thread. Something will eventually tear, rip or fall apart and having something to put it back together with is always helpful.

·  Leg Warmers. Sometimes the studio can be cold and you don’t want to dance with cold muscles. They come with me to keep me warm until I get warm. Check with your teacher if it’s OK to wear them in class.

·  Deodorant. You will get hot and sweaty and nobody wants to share a barre or get partnered with someone who stinks.

·  Sweatband / bandana. You will work up a sweat, especially in the summer months and nobody likes to get sweat in their eyes.

·  iPod. I like to grove to my own soundtrack while I’m stretching before class. It goes back into the bag during class.

·  Snack. It has been bananas, granola bars, Cliff Bar, basically whatever I have around the house, nobody wants to hear their stomach start to rumble while dancing. Don’t bring it into the studio.

·  Long sleeve t-shirt / sweatshirt / track jacket. This is more of a cold weather item, I’ll put it on over my normal t-shirt and wear it until I feel warm enough and then take it off.  Again, check with your teacher before you wear this in class.

·  Reference books. It’s always nice to have something to look up confusing steps after class and to study up at home. A French / English dictionary might be helpful too, you will hear a lot of French.

·  Notebook and Pen. I like to jot down notes of what we did in class, so I know what I did well and what I need to work on or to write down that cute girls number who you shared a barre with earlier in class.

Most adult classes do not require you to have anything more than a pair of ballet shoes, so what you wear is up to you. They usually ask that you wear something more form fitting. I have seen everything form your standard t-shirt and tights to baggy sweat pants. Wear what you feel comfortable in. Ask your teacher or administrator if your school has a specific dress code.

If you have a dancewear shop in your area I’d recommend going there first when you start your shopping spree.  It might be a bit more expensive than shopping online, but making sure what you are buying fits and is comfortable is super important. Finding shoes you like and feel comfortable can be difficult; chances are you’ll try on several different shoes to find a pair that fits well. It’s hard to do that if you shop online.

Don’t feel embarrassed when shopping in your local dancewear shop, chances are it will be full of pastel colored leotards and tutus. Most will have a section for men’s and boys dancewear, it may not be big but chances are good that they will have what you need. Ask questions; don’t be afraid to try things on. They are usually dancers themselves so they can speak from experience. Let them know you are there to shop; they will fall all over themselves to help the guy out.

Good luck and happy dancing!!

Written by Chris, edited by PTYD.



    For me, there really is nothing more inspiring for me that when the men up there are as beautiful as nearly any ballerina.

    There was a time when a man up there defying gravity and other physical possibilities was considered wrong, evil. A destruction of one's manhood.

    As a male in ballet meself, it's always a challenge. Just like nearly all the others, I kept it as secret as government documents. What these people did was nothing short of incredible.

    I've been taking it for about nine years now. I have danced onstage with our town's School of Dance and College. As a male who has taken ballet for nearing a whole decade (as I write this), I can honestly say... it is just a little bit harder.

    Some things just never change. Like how at that tender age in the beginning, it's still just a "girl's only club" and if you're a boy there at that age, you're like an intruder. The odd man out.

    Maybe all that will change someday, God willing. Hell, us willing. Boys, don't just cross your fingers. Take arms. Join together, unite and tear down those walls, that barrier that limit us all.

    To the pioneers who showed what's possible with a boy in ballet--Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolph Nureyev, Edward Villella, Peter Martins, Patrick Bissell, Ethan Stiefel, Sascha Radetsky, Vladmir Malakov, Peter Schafuss, Nikolaj Hubbe, Alexander Godunov--and that's just the creme de la creme of the ranks.

    My brothers, thank you for paving the way. And to those who are planning to follow in your footsteps... keep it all up. There is no reason to ever lose hope. Keep up the good faith.

    All my love, tendus, pirouettes... and Merde. Endless Merde to you all. Those couragerous and fearless martyrs who made being a male leaping around in pantyhose to classical music a respectable life pursuit, a noble career goal.

    --Your humble brother in arms and tights, Dane Youssef


    Being tardy to take up ballet is no crime or sin. Most males get into the "most feminine of art forms" late in life. A boy under 17 having anything at all to do with ballet--that can be hazardous to one's health.

    So any and all boys even so much as trying it... better know how to keep it under wraps. Keep your slippers, dance belt and "man-tights" under your mattress. The deepest, darkest secret... It's true, the art and form of ballet is extremely dainty and feminine. And boys doing anything ever at all like that can get one killed in the course of one recess.

    But... things are changing. It's a different time, it's a whole new world. Look once upon a time, only men were allowed to dance ballet--back in the dark ages, the 1500's back when it first came out. Back when ballet wasn't really ballet, but it was really more like "ballroom dancing with heavy, clunky costumes." Over time, ballet really evolved--becoming more acrobatic and gymnastic. More of a marvel, a superhuman impossibility. So of course, now the ladies are just better equipped to "do the ballet"--period. There's no speculation about it.

    One of the things women were just naturally meant to shine in... above all. Anyone out there know the actor Jeff Fahey? At the age of twenty-five, he started taking ballet class. Hell, he even received a full scholarship to dance with the Joffrey. ABT soloist Misty Copeland was thirteen when she took it up. Those hard-core, 48-karat ballet-aficionados--the authorities themselves on the craft will be the first tell you... you can be ANY AT ALL AGE TO DO BALLET!

    If you wish to try and make a living at it--well yeah, it best to start pre-pubescent. But... if you just want to do it... you can do it. Just do it. But well... talk to your doctor. No, really... like taking a prescription drug. You do have to be in decent health to do something as strenuous as ballet, the hardest, most difficult... the most damning of all exercises, all sports. All endeavors. If you can flourish in ballet, literally anything else will seem ridiculously easy after that. Believe you me... So... long rant short (though it may be too late for that now), if you want to... just dance. It's what life's all about.

    --My Sincerity (and to all the late bloomers), Dane Youssef

  3. "So any and all boys even so much as trying it... better know how to keep it under wraps. Keep your slippers, dance belt and "man-tights" under your mattress. The deepest, darkest secret... It's true, the art and form of ballet is extremely dainty and feminine. And boys doing anything ever at all like that can get one killed in the course of one recess."

    I think that part is hilarious. I am 44 and physically fit (enjoy Crossfit, short-distance running, martial arts, etc.) but NEVER danced and recently thought of signing up for some adult beginner ballet. I like challenges! If I tried it, would I hide the fact that I did? Maybe...but I think it's crazy how the other men who question one's masculinity are usually the weaker representatives of the type of masculinity they themselves are questioning. Earlier in life I served in the Army and completed airborne school and air assault school, served in an airborne unit and completed 20-some jumps before I got if nowadays I want to take ballet and need to wear tights or whatever to do it, to hell with anybody else. If some douche wants to question my masculinity he can kiss my airborne a$$ while I learn how to lift beautiful women.

    But whoever you are or whatever you are if you want to dance, go for it. To hell with anybody who questions it. Go do the things you find beautiful and fulfilling. I respect all who strive for excellence.


    If a guy’s willing to wear the standard jock-strap in any other sport, he should know–and be comfortable enough–to wear the “dance-belt.” Keep in mind that ballet is a sport–the most brutal one of all. And like anything else, the men need A LOT LESS ACCESSORIES than the women do.

    If the boy asks, “Why?” Just tell him… “It’s just like wearing a jock-strap.” And have his father tell him what happens when one—any jock—plays virtually any sport without wearing a jock. Except boxing, of course. Or let him see himself what happens.

    Yes, ballet is a sport. In fact, it’s the ultimate sport. It makes anything else—even those sports that involve riding down snowy cliffs at break-neck speed or driving vehicles that have no speed limit.

    A man should protect himself. Just like the woman keeps her toes taped and padded with gel inserts and cotton balls when she does Pointe. Have that belt and made a nice firm cup over it at the same time. Accidents can happen. A guy needs less protection (just like anything else in life), but he still needs it.

    Tell the boys that they can dance. Tell them they’re supposed to. Ladies… ask them to dance with you. Tell them that they have a place in ballet… An important place…

    –With Infinite Sincerity, Dane Youssef

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  6. I love ballet class. I have advanced to intermediate level and that class is MUCH harder than the beginning class. The instructors are fabulous - demanding but very nice about it. Personally I think tights are wonderfully comfortable. Our beginning class instructor took the time to explain the traditions and unique language of ballet. For the first few classes she told us " Places girls" at the beginning of class and "Curtsey" at the end of class. She always apologized and gave me the sweetest smile!

  7. I also love ballet. Balance takes strength. Ballet requires strength, stamina, aerobic conditioning, flexibility, discipline and a lot of hard work. To me there is little more romantic than the ballerina putting out her hand knowing her caviler 's hand is always, always there to support her. And on a different level there is little prettier than lithe, fit pretty girls dressed in so feminine an outfit as a classical tutu.

  8. I have taken adult beginner ballet classes for years. One year two women in the class enjoyed teasing me. Every class they asked me about wearing a tutu, pointe shoes, a bra under my leotard, stuff like that.

    At first I thought perhaps they were flirting so I went along with them. But I realized they just resented a guy in what they considered a female activity. Narrow minded for sure.

    In each and every class I had the school and the teachers welcomed me in class. At one school I was asked to play a non dancing role in the Nutcracker. I did it and enjoyed the rehearsals and learning about the unbelievable amount of work that goes into a production and what goes on back stage.

    Ballet is a joy. Demanding, hard and something you can learn more about forever.

  9. I have loved ballet since I was young. My mother would not hear from me taking a class way back then. I had a girl across the street show me things from her class. As an adult I have taken lots of classes. All were hard work but fun. The teachers and other students seem to appreciate having a guy in class. I think they took that as a compliment. I wore tights and never felt self conscious. I have fit, well muscled legs from bike riding. I could tell the teacher kind of liked that.

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