A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Ballet

Sep 30, 2020

Ballet is hard. Anyone who has ever taken a class or seen a performance understands this. Ballet dancers possess tremendous skill, unparalleled coordination, and an extremely high tolerance for pain. They do all this and more while making the art form seem effortless and graceful. They are superhuman athletes. And because of these superhuman skills, fans may feel disconnected from the artists they love most.
However, in recent years, dancers from all around the world have been able to express themselves in a more approachable manner with the help of social media. Some dancers share their cross-training techniques with the public (Sara Mearns of NYCB, @saramearns). Others provide a daily ballet class with a featured guest star on pandemic hiatus (Tiler Peck of NYCB, @tilerpeck). Still others provide a window into their day-to-day life outside of the studio and stage. Audiences can now connect with the personalities of these ballet superstars more than ever — just take Misty Copeland (@mistyonpointe) and her 1.8M followers for example.

As in many industries, social media has eroded the barriers to widespread exposure, leading to another positive trend in the ballet world: the use of humor. To balance out the demands of such a vigorous craft, comedy is greatly appreciated within ballet communities. Yes, ballet dancers take their training very seriously, but humor provides solace in the most challenging of days and boosts camaraderie. A few dancers have used social media to share their shenanigans that would have otherwise stayed behind rehearsal doors. We’re featuring the following media accounts to show the softer (and equally entertaining) side of ballet:

The Biscuit Ballerina (@biscuitballerina)

  • There’s a reason why this account is a fan-favorite among the ballet community. Professional dancer, Shelby Williams, entertains with light-hearted critiques of herself. From creating spoofs on iconic ballet variations to making hilarious blooper reels from fan-driven video submissions, it’s impossible NOT to smile while perusing this account. Learn more about the Biscuit Ballerina HERE.

Madame Olga (@Madamolgav)

  • Former ABT dancer Michael Cusumono channels his inner Russian ballet mistress in a passionate, flamboyant display that excites and enlivens his students. Get to know Madame Olga through an interview with Dance Teacher Magazine.

How To Dad – Ballet

  • New Zealander, Jordan Watson, makes an instructional video on what he’s learned from watching his young daughter’s beginner ballet class. Part of his ‘How To Dad’ series, Watson makes some hysterically accurate and perceptive observations about the art of ballet. Watch his video on YouTube HERE.

The Try Guys Try Ballet

  • This Youtube video has over 15 million views and for good reason. This dynamic foursome will try anything for the entertainment of their audience. Their valiant effort in taking a crash course in the art of ballet is no exception. Most importantly, a whole new appreciation for ballet dancers is gained in the process.

The rise of humor in ballet brings two positive benefits. First, audiences around the world can all use a smile during these unsettling days. A small escape, even just for a few moments on the screen, can provide immediate satisfaction and incentivize dancers and their audiences to keep going! Second, these videos prove that dancers are not taking a break — yes, such videos may provide a creative outlet, but they show that dancers continue to train on a daily basis. Artists across the globe are still wildly committed to their craft despite layoffs, a lack of rehearsal structure, and fully canceled seasons. There’s no doubt that the performing arts are struggling, but there’s hope that the personalities and perseverance of these incredible athletes will help strengthen the bond between performers and audience members. When the ballet world comes back from this pandemic, we can only hope there will be more engagement and support than ever before. 

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