The sad decline of ballet

Posted: March 12, 2022 by ng36b in Uncategorized
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When I was in college, I had enough time to pick some sort of extra curricular activity outside of ROTC. Instead of something geeky like using 3D printers, the chess club or computer gaming design, I chose to compete in ballroom dance. That got more than a few snickers from my other male friends, until one of them came to watch a local competition, and realized that all of the Latin ballroom dances (think cha-cha, rumba, etc.) were basically excuses for women to wear tight fitting clothing (and very little of it at that!) and dance in front of a bunch of judges…and with me! It was pretty glorious, especially as a shy male in my early twenties that needed a bit of help talking to women.

Ballroom was enough of a good time that I even ended up taking a ballet class at college to finish off an odd non-technical degree requirement that the university required for engineering students. I was one of two guys in the class, and since the other guy was about 100 pounds overweight, so I got all the female attention.

Ballroom and ballet have changed significantly since then, and unfortunately not in a good way. In college, it was obvious that there was a big push for women to wear more revealing clothing and for much more sexualized movements. Ballroom, with its focus on executing a set of movements in the same way each time, was a bit of a bulwark against this, but at advanced levels the rules sort of disappear and its all in how you want to interpret it. But at least the stodginess is there, and there is some modesty, however slight.

Ballet though…nope. Not even close. Even at the younger levels.

My daughters are currently at a Christian ballet studio, which I used to think didn’t matter all that much, until I went to a “ballet” competition to watch them dance. I put ballet in quotes because over the 2 hours we were there, I think maybe 30% of the dances could be considered ballet. The rest was an ugly mix of girls moving in very sexualized motions, wearing very little clothing and dancing to music that while it omitted swearing, left nothing else left to the imagination. It was a bit shocking.

I thought it was a one-off. I was wrong.

Last weekend at another competition, a girl that couldn’t have been older than 11 danced to the Janet Jackson song “Black Cat.” Now, a throwback to Janet Jackson could be pretty cool, but that wasn’t this. She was dressed like a stripper, and danced like a stripper. All she needed was a pole. While she was the worst one I saw, I looked at the song list and there were definitely others competing in that race to the bottom.

What the heck happened to kids ballet?

How did we go from dancing Swan Lake and The Nutcracker to little girls practicing moves that should be relegated to R-rated movies?

And all to parents applause! How on earth are people applauding this, and then shocked when their teenager engages in risky behavior later in life. Like, duh, where do you think they learned it from?

It doesn’t have to be that way. There were plenty of performances to more modern songs that still used all the ballet techniques. There were plenty of upbeat and fun performances that didn’t require girls to dress like they were auditioning for the world’s oldest profession. There is no excuse for this, and yet it seems like that is all that is taught at most dance studios.

When we wonder later in life why our young women make risky choices with their sexual behavior, we’ll need to remember when we clapped to them acting those decisions out on a dance stage. And then maybe we’ll make some better decisions of our own.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. If you enjoyed this post, stop by the author’s page on Amazon and order a book!

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