Ballerinas can be such a pain!

Frank Augustyn has some suggestions for what ballerinas can do to avoid wear and tear on their partners:

  1. Don’t piqué onto your partner’s foot. Toe shoes are very hard, like steel, and can cause a lot of damage.
  2. Make sure in a pirouette in retiré to overcross your leg. This reduces the chance of hitting your partner where he least wants to be hit.
  3. Don’t put on too much weight. A touchy subject, this, given ballerinas’ tendencies towards anorexia. But the reality is, with the lifts that are now an integral part of ballet, there is a maximum weight a partner can be expected to haul. The figure can vary, but for me it was around 115 pounds. More than that was too much. If you are being partnered by a flatbed truck, a real lumberjack-type of a guy, fine, you can be heavier.
  4. Tape all rings on your fingers, because you can slash your partner, especially with multi-karat diamonds. I’ve seen blood dripping from slash cuts across a partner’s chest. It is not a pretty sight.
  5. Whenever possible, don’t announce your pregnancy five minutes before the performance. This will save your partner an anxiety attack.
  6. Make bobby pins secure and coat them with hairspray. This will prevent them flying out and blinding your partner.
  7. Don’t have a short high fifth with elbows sticking out. That way you won’t break your partner’s nose, as Karen did mine.
  8. Don’t jump into your partner’s arms if he isn’t looking. This can be dangerous, for both of you.
  9. Be as much the image of a princess as possible. Be on balance at all times. Be strong, be in shape, be technically proficient. Be perfect.
  10. Flatter your partner at every opportunity you have. Tell him how great he is, how wonderful, how much you need him, and that without him nothing is possible. Insecure males in a female world, we need our egos boosted.

—Frank Augustyn, with Barbara Sears, Dancing from the Heart: A Memoir

I have to hand it to Augustyn again for being a liberated male and not trying to keep up a macho image. It’s all too easy to get the impression that men are indestructible when they habitually hide their pain. Good for Frank for demanding a little respect for his strong but breakable body and soul.

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5 comments on “Ballerinas can be such a pain!

  1. Imani says:

    Hahahahaha! I'd love to have heard the story behind the pregnancy announcement rule. Alas *looks down at 132 lbs, mostly in her thighs* I guess I'm not ballerina material unless I partner with the Hulk.

  2. Sylvia says:

    The story of the “pregnant fish dives” is quite simple. He and his (dancing) partner were warming up just before the curtain went up when she told him that she was pregnant. He freaked out because they had to do a bunch of fish dives, which are a bit risky and involve clutching the ballerina's stomach. It was fine, though; he was just being excessively cautious.
    132 sounds perfectly normal to me. 115 is really pushing it, especially since the dancers are so muscular. You'd have to be naturally slight (and short) to achieve that healthily.

  3. Imani says:

    Maybe he was kidding about the weight? He does have a healthy sense of humour.
    The fish dives story is too cute.

  4. Stefanie says:

    Who knew flying bobby pins could be so dangerous?

  5. […] speak up for male dancers in what is a female-dominated art form. You saw a little bit of this in my last post on this book. His “dos and don’ts for ballerinas” come at the end of a chapter in […]

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