GuysDance Too | What it Takes

By Marcia Custer

What do Christian Bale, Tupak Shakur and Jean Claude VanDamme all have in common?

Yes, okay: They’re all super attractive celebrities. And yeah, I also wouldn’t want to get into a fight with any one of them. But what ELSE? They all had something as children a lot of young men don’t get to experience; and this might be why they all have such hot bods and that ability to roundhouse kick the bad guys’ face flawlessly or eloquently annihilate you with words (see: Tupac’s Still Ballin or Christian Bale’s epic assault on some stagehands- neither of which are totally cool, bro. But tuff? Yeah, okay.)

Yep, these dudes were all ballet boys at one time. Shocked? I’m not.

It takes skill, style and ease (or serious steeze) to do ballet.

Have you seen this buzz feed article making the rounds? Ballerinas are SUPER tough, and it shows.

But what does it take for a man to do ballet?

1. You’ve gotta be ripped


To pull of stunts like this, gym time is all the time- so much so that it might make the Jersey Shore boys fear for their -ahem- situations.

Here’s a helpful article on training for male dancing.

2. You’ve gotta have brains

There’s a certain type of finesse and je ne sais quois that all dancers must have. It takes smarts to pull off multiple roles and make them believable.

To go from Don Quixote’s suave and athletic Basil:

to one of Jiri Kilyan’s virile dancers in Le Petit Mort:

you’ve gotta be physically adaptable AND mentally flexible.


3. Oh, yeah, you also have to be really flexible.

Dang. Sergio Castro Navarro, from the Polish National Ballet, everyone.

4. Have the ability to fly.

What other sport (okay, aside from pole vaulting) gets you in the air like this? And the poles here are this guys’ LEGS. Dang.

5. Keep it real.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes, and the stigma of being a ballet boy is much stronger here in the U.S. than in Europe (get with the times, America!) But listen to what these NYCB dancers have to say about dancing, being surrounded by beautiful people, and what makes ballet better than wrestling.

To be a ballet boy, you’ve gotta be strong and confident and love what you do. And passion is a #1 charm.

Here’s a cool video on men in ballet featuring the Australian Ballet

So, of course, whether you’re a boy, girl, a man, a woman- however you self-identify (I’m not trying to get SUPER gender binary over here)- ballet takes a lot of determination, dedication, time, skill, passion and sweat— but to be a “ballet boy” you’ve got to have a little something more. Get at me @marcia_custer with your thoughts on what it takes to be a male ballet dancer in this day. I’m curious!

***SPOILER ALERT*** We’ll be getting some of Rex Tilton & Christopher Ruud’s thoughts on the matter (dancers from Ballet West) before they come out to teach a FREE Guys dance class thanks to the Ballet in Cleveland Guys Dance Too initiative. Stay Tuned!

*Thanks to Boys do Ballet  for the info on Christian Bale, et al. surprise ballet boys.


If you’re looking for college programs in dance, check this video out that discusses the University of Arizona’s program!

ALSO, a great resource:  My Son Can Dance.  — a TRUE account of one boys’ journey into the professional world. You can get lost in this blog for hours…. I know I did!


Marcia Custer is a current B.A. Dance Studies major at Kent State University. She makes dance, performance art, pop music and loves postmodern dance and classical/contemporary ballet. Her fave 3 ballets are The Firebird, Afternoon of a Faun and Minus 16. Her fave rapper isn’t Tupac Shakur, but Notorious B.I.G. and her fave ballet-presenting nonprofit is Ballet in Cleveland.


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