PdT: How can you get someone into watching dance

by Henrik on September 8, 2010

On Pas de Trois this week, we are asking how you can get someone into watching dance? Well, if I only knew..
Although I’m basically clueless, I’m going to try to answer the question anyway;

First of all, go see a performance. YouTube is full of great dancing videos, but, fortunately, I’d say, it doesn’t give you anything near the experience of watching some really cool show in a real theater. I know, it’s expensive, I know, it takes a lot of time, I know, you have to dress up; IT’S WORTH IT (and HEY, you can have a beer in the brakes)! A good performance is an experience for life!

empty seats in a theatre

Help us fill those seats…

If you are bringing someone to their first dance performance in their life, I do believe that you should pick it with care. You don’t want to put someone in the position where they were expecting MTV-booty-shaking, and end up with watching girls run around in white dresses for four hours (My friends words, not mine. He was watching Swan Lake for the first time in his life..). Check out my column Bedtime Stories, I try to explain the plots (or the lack of such) in the most famous ballets out there. It’s far from a complete guide (yet), but it should give you an idea…

But how can we make all those “normies” (an expression stolen from the hilarious – at least for us with strange dancing-humor – page thin and dizzy) out there want to go to see dance? I wish I knew. I mean, they could start by reading my blog! Not to brag, but after all, the idea behind it was to provide people with an insight to the amazing, but sometimes closed world I’m living in, where fairies and witches and broken ankles are everyday business. I hope that if someone, completely unfamiliar with ballet, got lost surfing the net, and ended up on my page, that they’d want to go see a performance, or at least a clip on internet afterwards (Maybe I was a little harsh on YouTube earlier, after all, it is still better than nothing). What I want to say here is that, if I can achieve that someone got inspired by Tights and Tiaras to go see a ballet performance, all the time and effort and hair-loss and sleepless nights I put in to it is well worth it!

If anyone, especially if it is a male, with a classic “nothing-interests-me-besides-football-and-beer-and-dancing-is-for-faggots” comes your way, on the other hand, I do have an easy solution to help widen their perspectives, which will be the end of my contribution to this weeks question:

1. Strap the man down in a (comfortable) chair in front of the biggest monitor nearby.

2. For christ sake, give him a beer, he’s not used to absorb culture without it.

3. Crank up the volume and…

4. Put on this performance from Jo Strømgren Company, who I wrote a post on a while back. THe performance is up on the www in it’s entire form, and Mr. Strømgren, a wise man, realized 45 minutes is the longest amount of time most men can keep concentrated (if you didn’t realize already, it is the length of one half of the great game of soccer). So therefore, the performance is exactly that long – A ballet celebrating soccer in one half of a soccer-match.

Believe me, that man will be looking for more ballet for the rest of his life! :)


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

David September 10, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Hi. As a man, this is how ballet first became my obsession.

I think that the seed was planted in me to attend ballet performances many years before I started attending them.

For years, I had been watching ice skating on TV because I found the young women to be so beautiful and a bit sexy in their lingerie (ice skating) costumes. In ‘real life’, women in the U.S. typically dress sloppy. They rarely put on anything pretty. Ice skating on TV was my chance to see young women dressed and behaving very feminine. Ice princesses. I love beautiful women and fashion.

Sometimes I would run into a cheerleading squad competition on TV. Everyone, including the men looked like they were having so much fun jumping and flipping around like Ninjas to great dance music. I sometimes would imagine how I would choreograph their movements to energetic dance songs.

As an adult, I attended some opera performances. This happened because a woman I was dating invited me to an opera. I loved everything about it. I began to imagine what it would be like to be on stage bringing people to tears and to their feet. I even tried to impersonate the singing of opera people to see how well I could do.

Back in 2001, I decided to go see The Nutcracker for the first time ever. For years, I had seen on TV, advertizements for The Nutcracker performed by the Moscow Ballet touring the U.S. I felt like perhaps I missed out on this holiday tradition as a child, being that my father was culturally ignorant. He never went anywhere or did anything. He watched TV a lot.

I went with three enlightened friends and it was magic. I loved the cooperation of the live orchestra and the dancers to bring about the best possible emotions in the audience. I love how athletic it was because I am an athlete. And, of course, I loved the beautiful young Russian women and the fashion. I even thought that it was great that the Russian men were fit looking and handsome.

However, I didn’t attend another ballet until 2007.

In 2006, I discovered So You Think You Can Dance on TV and loved it for all the same reasons that I loved The Nutcracker. SYTYCD was the first time that I ever watched a dance competition on TV. I became so obsessed with it that I even bought a ticket for the SYTYCD tour. I imagined the songs I would pick if I were a choreographer and what movements I would have the dancers doing. I didn’t just want to watch the dancers, I wanted to be the dancers.

I tried ballroom dance lessons and it was nice but something was missing. While doing web searches on ballroom dancing, I found an article that the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago was teaching adults. I found this fascinating because I thought that if a person didn’t start ballet at the age of 4-ish, no one would be interested in teaching them.

I looked up adult ballet classes where I live and discovered that the Rochester City Ballet (NY) had classes for adults. I started in a summer class after work and it was love at first tendu. It satisfied my demanding checklist of everything I require for a hobby. Everytime I went to ballet class, I felt like I slipped into a special, secret world that few adults even knew existed.

I dropped ballroom and stuck with ballet. I got to know some of the professional dancers of the company and watched them and the more gifted students practicing for ballet performances. This is when I began attending all of the performances in the area as well as driving 3 hours to see the New York City Ballet perform at Saratoga Springs. I sometimes practice ballet at home with the New York City Ballet Workout 1 and 2 DVDs that are sold at bookstores.

To help recruit newbies, I wear company ballet t-shirts when shopping or even at the gym. I have told a few friends and co-workers. I hope that by wearing the shirts in public, I can put the seed in men’s heads that ballet is something that is not only for women. I do get the oddest looks while wearing these shirts. However, I haven’t really been bold enough to start talking to groups of men about ballet or inviting them to performances.


Mary Lou March 20, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Your history is great, David, thanks for sharing it with us! :D And I do hope that you’ll soon take the next step and manage to get other men into watching ballet, too :D


Softwear January 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Dear Henrik, I got lost surfing the net, and ended up on your page, and I want to go see a performance!!
But you are right…it IS expensive. Such a shame.


Henrik January 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Hi! Cool, I’m flattered! Try to see if your local theatre has last minute tickets (when folks don’t show up etc) or maybe they have some standing-tickets or anything like that, most theatres has some cheap tickets for their shows, but they might be hard to find.. Go to the ticket office and tell them you are interested, I’m sure you can find out something :)
OR, and this is a good one, although not very good for theatre income etc – try to see if you can get in touch with any of the dancers – they can get you in backstage for free ;)


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