Dating a dancer, a chat with Rebecca from Miami City Ballet, author of TUAPT.

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by Henrik on January 14, 2012

Remember the posts on “dating dancers” here on Tights and Tiaras? Well, it made quite the fuzz when I published it – it seems, dancers romantic lives are something you are all quite interested in, aren’t you?! You gossipy little bunch :)

But it’s true, dancers romantic lives are somewhat different from “civil people’s,” as I mentioned in the How-to-date-a-dancer post (which wasn’t really a good list on how to date a dancer, sorry ’bout that. But I’m happy to tell you, this one will be!). What a person do for a living is not necessarily defining that person in general, but with dancers, it tends to give you quite a hint – we take our job very seriously, and it does take up most of our time. As a natural consequence, lots of dancers seems to be dating other dancers.

As promised earlier, Rebecca King, dancer of Miami City Ballet and author of the Tendus under a Palm Tree, and I wanted to continue our interactive chats, and share some views around the romantic lives of dancers, the dating other dancers vs “normal people” pros and cons and – wait for it – finally give you some real pointers in what to expect, and how to handle, dating a dancer yourself. Rebecca and I earlier talked about another way of partnering - an interactive guide to Pas de Deux, have you read it yet?

Enjoy

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On dating other dancers or not:

Henrik: I’m together with my lovely girlfriend for 6 years, who is also a professional dancer. I do enjoy living with someone that understand my profession and has the expertise to help me and discuss professional issues. On the other hand, we have a good “balance” in leaving the job in the theatre when we go home. That doesn’t mean we never talk about ballet outside the theatre, but if there was any problems or things we weren’t satisfied with at work, we will deal with it at work, and when we go home, it’s forgotten until next time. This is especially important since we are working in the same company, which sometimes results in issues coming up between us as dancers. These are important not to bring home afterwards. Also, it basically mean we are seeing each other ‘all the time’, which makes separating private and professional life even more important.

Rebecca:  To me, this is where work relationships can get a little tricky.  When you work together and see each other all the time, the time spent together after work could get a bit boring and routine.  There is no need for a “Honey, how was your day?” because you were there; you know.  When you are in the same profession you seem to have a lot in common, but sometimes, that is the only thing you have in common.  It can be nice to talk to someone about ballet who understands the art form, but spending time with someone who doesn’t know anything about your job and is willing to learn about it can be even more interesting.  Of course you can’t just say, “I had the hardest class today.  The grande allegro the teacher gave with the saut de chats really killed my calves.”  You have to translate.  “I had a difficult morning.  We did a lot of dancing with big jumps that made my legs tired.”

H: I guess I’m biased here, as my girlfriend and I don’t seem to have any problems with being together becoming routine, for which I am very happy! But I definitely can see the problem. One thing we are very good at is doing stuff separately at times. I’m not afraid to tell my girlfriend “I look forward to being somewhere else this weekend”. To be apart makes you miss and appreciate your partner for when you meet again.
Dancers that are together with other dancers often work in the same theatre, has the same friends, same routines – it can become a problem. Seeing your partner 24/7 is not necessarily a good thing. One need a little room every once in a while, something that is ‘yours’ only.

Long legged ballet dancing hot girl

Anyone mentioned nice legs?! Picture from modelsandmoguls.com

R: Dancers always end up spending their time with other dancers.  I guess there is just something about the comfort of something familiar and people who really understand you, and are kind of “crazy” in the same way.  Of course spending too much time together is never a good thing; either with your co-workers, friends, or significant other.  This is where, for me, when dating a “normal person”, you get to meet their friends who are also “normal.”  It can be so refreshing to meet new people and have conversations about something other than ballet.  Sometimes we allow ballet to consume our lives, and it is important to take a step back and enjoy some time away from it all.

H: Absolutely. My absolutely closest friends are all “non-dancers”, and I think without them, I’d go nuts. I don’t think it’s healthy, in any profession, to be too caught up in what you do. It’s great to be devoted, but if you don’t allow yourself impressions from the rest of the world, you are denying yourself lots of inspiration, which can be alpha and omega in developing further.

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One thing is for sure, the romance you see on stage often do blossom also backstage, and many dancers tend to find their spouses from within our own ranks. But how many is it really? I’ve tried to gather some figures, let’s have a look, shall we?! How is the situation in Miami, Rebecca?

R: Here in Miami City Ballet we have a pretty astounding statistic: Almost all of the men date or marry dancers from the company and the rest are single.  About 80% of the women date or marry people from outside the company.  Of course this statistic is drastically affected by the fact that there are more women in the company, but these are not scientific numbers, just an example for my demonstration.

H: Wow, that is really high numbers! There’s not a single guy that has a “normie” girlfriend?! Here in Győr, the situation is quite different. About half of the guys in a relationship has spouses from outside the dance-world. As for the ladies, about 70% of those in a relationship are together with outsiders.
Being a dancer together with another dancer, I can definitely sign off your statement about being surrounded by lovely ballerinas – it’s hard not to fall for any of them :)

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Two dancers portraying the roles of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, the classic love story. But is it just play, or do the dancers bring their affection with them also off-stage?

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To widen our “survey” a bit, I asked a couple of other dancers what it’s like in their companies. The numbers we got back are interesting:

  • Anne Marie Melendez from the Ballet Austin tells us that of the women in the company, 3 are dating or married to other dancers, 7 to non-dancers, 2 are single. Amongst the men it’s about opposite, 4 are dating other dancers, only 1 dating a non dancer, 5 are single.
  • A dancer from the Stuttgart Ballet who prefers to remain anonymous, tells us the balance in their company is pretty much equal, but that maybe a small majority of the dancers are dating outsiders. There is no big difference between the genders.
  • Chris McDaniel of the Los Angeles Ballet says: “Id say most of the girls date guys outside of the dance world. So 80% maybe. There are only two couples in the company. And the other guys are single…”
  • Jean Marc Cordero from the Philippine National Ballet gave us a real specified update:
    42% in the company is in a relationship, 11% are married
    53% of the dancers in our company are men. About 60% of the men are in a relationship, and amongst these, almost everyone (83%) are in a relationship with co-dancers.
    About half of the women in the company are in a relationship, 25% of these women are in a relationship with non dancers. 75% of the women in a relationship are dating other dancers.

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So what’s the conclusion? Well, it seems the numbers are varying from place to place, but in general, I think we can say there is a stronger tendency for dancing men to date other dancers, than amongst the dancing women. Understandably enough when you think about it, as there are more women dancing, than men, so the ones who doesn’t get a “dancing man” (and don’t feel like sharing) pretty much has to find themselves spouses outside the ballet ranks.

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How to date a dancer

Here comes the part you have all been waiting for, dear readers. How is it like dating a professional dancer? What can you expect? Earlier, I’ve written a post on 5 real reasons to date a dancer that you might want to check out. Dating dancers are great! Although, we might be a little hard to handle sometimes. Rebecca and I sat down and summarized a couple of typical situations:

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R: Be prepared to attend numerous parties; not only galas post-performances, but also dancer get-togethers. Dancers can form a pretty crazy and unique crowd: after-all, we are artists.  So be prepared for ballet talk.
H: Yeap. Actually, I think one of the things you need to do if you want to date a dancer for any longer period, is to start to care about dance. You don’t need to be as crazy about it as your partner, but be prepared to talk about dance from time to time! It’s logic, really. I think Victoria Beckham cares just a little bit about soccer, Tiger Woods wife probably knows the basics of golf, and we know Hillary Clinton’s husband also is just a tad interested in politics..

No premiere without a banquet

R: You thought you would always be the person going out for drinks with friends on a Friday night?  Think again!  Now you will be going to the ballet to support your significant other.  Hope you enjoy it, because there are many performances during a season!
H: It’s always a good feeling to know your partner is in the audience watching and cheering for you. But I think this is a point where the dancer also should be able to make some compromises. There really is a lot of performances in a season…

H: Like I mentioned in the other posts on dating dancers, I don’t think there is a dancer in the world that appreciate a pick-up-line like: “oh, you’re a dancer? So you are really flexible, huh?”. Plus point for choosing a dance-related pick-up line. Minus for being pervy. Try making a remark about the positioning of his or her feet instead, say it’s hard to not notice she (or he) is a dancer, the persons posture, movements – those are all cool, a compliment even!
R: We definitely stand out like sore thumbs.  Not hard to miss us!

R: If you have Sunday off work, you may want to go enjoy your evening.  But remember, chances are your dancer is performing the next day and will have to get home early.  Dancers need to be rested and ready to dance all day long.
H: Unfortunately, this is true. I love a social event like anyone, but there is always class in the morning. It’s a fact of our lives, and something you’d have to relate to if you are dating a dancer. Another day, Another Tendu!

R: Can’t handle the sound of joints popping? Then a ballet dancer is not for you because EVERYTHING pops!
H: Oh yeah, joint-popping. Don’t sleep very deep? I don’t really think a dancer is the right choice for you. When I try to quietly go to the bathroom at night, my body pops like a decent beat-boxer. No joint-popping? Forget about dating a dancer! My right big toe pops with EVERY. SINGLE. STEP I take. Thats just what ballet does to you..

See you guys around. Don’t forget to like Tights and Tiaras on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. If you’re interested, there’s even a Tights and Tiaras newsletter you can sign up for – you get the exclusive e-book “Ballet Crash” I wrote for the job, how’s that for a deal?
Ta-Ta
H

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Carly January 15, 2012 at 1:38 am

Hi Henrik,

Here are some relationship facts from the National Ballet of Canada, if you’re curious!

http://national.ballet.ca/blog/?p=2261

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Henrik January 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Cool :) Thanks for sharing that!

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Leigh Purtill January 15, 2012 at 3:32 am

Great post- very interesting statistics! Do they apply for same-sex relationships as well?

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Henrik January 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Hi Leigh.
Yes, the facts are split into genders, but not sexual preference. If 5 of 10 girls in a company is in a relationship, I make no assumptions of who they are in a relationship with, girl or boy, the only question was if the person is a dancer or not. So, in short, yes, they apply for all kinds of relationships :)

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Oliver January 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Great stuff guys!

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Christina . January 16, 2012 at 1:16 am

This is interesting topic .theres nothing wrong dancers dating in fact this how they meet there better half . But on the other hand if they are dancing for company professionally it’s best to keep it professional .

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Fayet January 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

Very cool post, thanks a lot! I enjoyed reading it a lot. And I loved the remark about “joint popping” – I’m only a rec dancer and nowhere good, but even I noted the joint popping and that it gets louder the more classes I take, especially when they include a lot of pointe work. I figured that it was related to ballet somehow, but how exactly does it work? Do you know? I’d be interested in knowing that.. just so that I can explain it when I stretch somewhere and all the joints in my back pop. ;)

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Karenatasha January 17, 2012 at 1:28 am

Very interesting! As someone who used to work backstage, but is not a dancer (except recreationally), it was fun to read.

One thing I’d say: if that high a percentage of dancers are in a relationship with other dancers, yet a huge majority of women are dating outside the company, clearly it is because many of those male dancers are involved in same-sex relationships. In the company I used to work for, many years ago, almost all the straight men were involved with other dancers, and so were the gay men. The ones who had to look outside for a relationship were the straight women.

And about the “flexible” come-on: eewwww. Probably the bane of dancers’ existence, and the same for yoga instructors, gymnasts, etc. Who would EVER think that would work?

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Henrik January 17, 2012 at 7:29 am

Hi Karenataha,
Glad you ejnoyed the post.
I don’t quite agree with you about the numbers shows the men are involved with other men, it doesn’t make sense – we didn’t count sexual preference, or the gender of the partner, in this “survey”. I believe the reason the straight women has to “look outside the ballet world” is basically mostly based on the fact that there is several more women, than men, that dances. Unless you want bigamy relationships, sharing the male dancers, there is simply no other way.
You’d be surprised how many people think that the fliexible line works (!) – but their logic, I still haven’t picked up… :P

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Sasha L April 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

Gasps! Joint-popping! I can totally relate to that. I stopped ballet for almost a decade to concentrate on school/studies (ventured into music though) – Asian culture, le sigh! And after graduating from uni, I really missed it and enrolled into classes (Adult Ballet). It’s definitely easier to catch up on steps, but it terms of flexibility and techniques, it’s like starting back from scratch (almost). My knee joints pop all the time! I thought age is catching up .. partly true though.

Also, on that whole “You’re a dancer? You must be really flexible” pick-up line – haha! I thought we only get it here in Asia!

Thanks for sharing, Henrik. I agree to what you say about being devoted to your profession, but not obsessed to the point where you shut everything else out. I have multiple roles in life and find that really rewarding when socialising with people of different professions.

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