Ladies night on Tights and Tiaras

by Henrik on March 8, 2011

In my ballets, woman is first. Men are consorts. God made men to sing the praises of women. They are not equal to men: They are better!             -George Balanchine

Ever since Tights and Tiaras subtle beginning, we always made a point of standing up for the men in ballet, the guys that dare to take the step (pun intended) out of societies prejudices, and dance.
But today is all about the ladies!

The Ballerina is a symbol of female beauty and grace. Of course she is! There are few things on this planet more beautiful than a women dancing. Ask anyone. Today is the International Women’s Day, and to honor that day, we’re going to look at some of the greatest ballerinas through time – a tribute to dancing women, by a dancing man.

Dying Swan, Black Swan, White Swan, the original Swan, Anna Pavlova, Fokine,

Anna Pavlova in Fokine's solo created for her, the legendary "dying swan".

Chloe, Margot Fonteyn, Nureyev, British Ballerina

Margot Fonteyn was one of our times greatest ballerinas, a legend. Here as Chloe

Perfect feet, perfect body, sylvie Guillem, swan Lake, Black swan

With a body custom made for ballet, Sylvie Guillem is one of our generations absolute ballerinas. Still dancing at 46, she is today a much respected modern dancer. Here as Odile from Swan Lake

Read the story of Swan Lake

Ratmanski, Zakharova, Nikiya, La Bayadere,

Another ballerina "born for ballet" is Bolshois Svetlana Zakharova. With legs to her neck, she is the personification of ballets sometimes crazy ideals. Here she is in La Bayadere, as Nikiya

Read the story of La Bayadere

Giselle, Lívia Kodolányi, Ballerina, Beautiful,

At last, my own very special lady, from a photoshoot earlier this year. The costume and sets are from Giselle.

Read the story of Giselle

After all, what is the ballet without the ladies? Not that the men doesn’t have their place in there, but those ladies.. I guess Mr. B wasn’t all stupid, after all. This is my way of appreciating the women around me, and all the ladies of the ballet, who work hard and go through pain for the audience to watch the illusion of harmony and beauty. You are truly beautiful!

Happy International Women’s Day!
Ta-ta
H

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Tiggothy March 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm

What a beautiful post, and gorgeous photos in it :-)

Note to self: do not ever allow photos of me dancing on the internet. It may shatter Henrik’s idea that women dancing are graceful…

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Henrik March 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

Haha, very funny!! Who said we all have to be professional? I’m sure you are more than graceful! :)

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Tiggothy March 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

I have fun, which is I think the important thing when not aiming for professionalism :-D

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Henrik March 9, 2011 at 8:51 am

absolutely, and the best reason to dance whatsoever! :)

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Mary Lou March 9, 2011 at 10:38 am

Balanchine’s quote is well-known, but though I do adore him as as coreographer I think his saying is really unrespectful to the male dancers (and there should be more of them around, don’t you think?), isnt’it? ;) I’d say… ballet is neither women nor men’s, but anyone_who_loves_it’s! :D

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Henrik March 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I get your point. On the other hand, Balanchine wasn’t much of a feminist, either – he also said the women are the garden, and the men are there to do the landscaping, meaning that being a choreographer is a mans job and dancing the woman’s. Anyway, I think the quote is nice for a day like yesterday, let’s not over-think it either ;)

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Mary Lou March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Yes, just joking (and thinking you were doing it too in quoting it, in a sense ;) ). I was just trying to be dispassionate and to give you ballet gentlemen the part of kudos you need, assuming you’re often undestimated ;) :^D

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Henrik March 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm

:) Thank you! I think I can speak for all us ballet gentlemen when I say we appreciate the kudos ;)

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m March 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

Great post, and very cool blog also. Thank you Henrik so much and keep up the good work!

- A devoted reader since August 2010

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Henrik March 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Thank you M, I’m happy you enjoy my work at TIghts and Tiaras :)

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Seven of Nine Davids March 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Plus, women just look better in a tutu than men. :D

I believe that without women, ballet wouldn’t even exist in the modern days. I love seeing a man cutting loose out on the ballet dance floor. But women are the ones that make ballet magical enough for it to endure through the centuries.

For example, in La Bayadère, The Kingdom of the Shades is up there with the most amazing things I have ever seen in ballet. ALL WOMEN. Men just can’t make anything that magical in ballet.

In ballet, the man is the pursuer and the women is the persued. Not the other way around. It is sort of like men are the output to the woman’s input. Everything flows from the man to the woman.

Disclaimer: Or course, I am not refering to attempts of all male ballet troupes such as Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, where the men play the roles of both men and women.

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Henrik March 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm

True that! (also leaving out the Trocks, who looks smashing in tutu’s! :D )

I believe you are right about the ladies – they are the driving force in ballet!

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Xantara October 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I love these articles. How many words can a wrosidmth smith?

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Mary Lou March 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

“Men just can’t make anything that magical in ballet.”

Yes, but have you tried to take a look to “Morel & Saint-Loup pas de deux” from Roland Petit’s “Proust”, just to make an exemple? They create the same kind of magic (just my humble opinion though! :D )

(Or maybe this works just because I’m a ‘she’… :D )

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Henrik March 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

I think men can make a very powerful impression on stage, specially in group, equally to women, although they might not achieve the same “tenderness” as you see in the Shades.. I think it would be a great loss for ballet to rule out any of the genders – thank god we have the diversity! Again, that’s just my opinion..

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Mary Lou March 10, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Indeed! Just as you say, women’s ‘magic’ is created by tenderness, men’s one by strength and power! But they are both lovely to watch. You are so right when you say, ‘thank god we have the diversity’… and I think that this diversity should be more and more, especially in modern/contemporary dance (but in re-reading the classics too), pointed out and valorized by creating coreographies that establish a true ‘dialog’ between different body types. Personally, I don’t like when I see a coreographic work that tends to flatten gender differences, especially by ‘forcing’ the male dancers to assume a grace and a flexibility that naturally suit more to the women. Plus, I fear that kind of behaviour strenghtens the old-yet-deprecable prejudice that ballet is a ‘sissies’ thing – and we ballet lovers don’t want this to happen, do we?

(Excuse me if I flood your page with comments… the thing is that this topic really interests me, as I’m a great ballet fan, a supporter of men in ballet and, besides – also because of my universitary career – very fond of ‘gender’ cultural studies! ;) )

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Henrik March 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Well said, Mary Lou :) I totally agree with you. You might be interested in a post I wrote a while back, on Grooming: http://www.tightsandtiaras.com/2010/04/to-groom-or-not-to-groom-thats-the-question/ . I mention some of the gender-presentation there, and how I think a man should be a man on stage, not trying to be a women. On the other hand, I mean people should be allowed being whoever they are, so also on stage. If a more feminine approach works for some dancers, then thats what they should do – but they won’t get the lead in my Spartacus ;)

As for the comments – I love them! No such thing as flooding a page with comments – you are any bloggers dream reader ;) Keep commenting as much you want! :) H

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Mary Lou March 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Regarding the comments, oh, you almost made me blush :D I warn you that i’m a chatterbox and maybe you better not encourage me… I could become a danger (joking: :P ). You know, it’s great to have the chance to dialog with someone in ballet, and notably, according to what I was saying earlier, with someone who can give you a sight of the “other half of the sky”. Being a ballet lover as I am, I always complain the lack or the rarity of chances to face males into my own same passion. It’s like a “one-way world”, I can’t explain myself better… and I don’t like it that much the way it is, seriously. That’s the main reason why I appreciate so much your blog! ;)

(BTW, I prefer my Siegfried shaved, but let my Spartacus grow a beard! :D )

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Henrik March 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I was kind of hoping there were people out there with that feeling, that it’s hard to meet/talk to male dancers, that’s one of the reasons I started Tights and Tiaras. So glad that you appreciate it! And don’t worry about becoming a danger, there’s always the “mark as spam”-button ;) (and yes, also I am joking :P )
Do agree with you on the Siegfried/Spartacus too :)

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