One frequently asked question we dancers tend to get a lot is how we started dancing. The girls’ answer is usually, “Well I was about two years old and my mom took me to ballet class and I got to wear a pink tutu and a tiara and the rest is history!” …The guy version? That’s where it gets interesting. The gay guy version is almost identical to the girl version. Just replace the “my mom took me” with “I made my mom take me” and you’re golden (or sparkly). Out of all the variations or versions on the “how I started ballet” stories, no one beats the straight guys. The straight guys have the best stories ever. They’re so beautifully random and casual, some so unabashedly accidental that it makes me jealous I never had a “meet-cute” moment with ballet. I honestly don’t even remember my first class!
In the pre-ballet classes there’s always that one little boy surrounded by a room full of girls in pink chiffon and rhinestones. He’s always “Fritz” (the brother of “Clara” in The Nutcracker), then later as he gets older he’s “The Prince” (in Every Single Ballet You Do). At the end of the day, he’s probably the only one in the entire class at that tiny private ballet school in the suburbs that might actually have a chance at making it professionally anyways. So how did he get there?
His father was a world champion wrestler, mother was a stay at home mom. He had an older sister who never took a ballet class in her life. His parents wanted him to have an after school activity so they sent him to music classes which were two hours away by bus from his house. The first day of class he gets off the bus and walks into what he thinks is the music room, but turns out it was a ballet class! I guess after only a few lessons, not only did he realize he was in the wrong class, but he found himself totally absorbed in the whole ballet world. He hasn’t left since.
Other ballerino’s were inspired by celebrity male performers. Baryshnikov? Nureyev? Nope. The king of pop himself, Michael Jackson. One guy in the company used to dance around his living room to “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal”, knocking over furniture and just generally being a rambunctious little kid. One day his mother, who’d had enough with all of the broken lamps in her home, decides to send him to ballet class to help with his suspected hyperactive disorder. After a couple classes he was hooked, and applied that same amount of energy into the physically demanding work of ballet school. I’m honestly not sure if it helped or hindered the situation though, he’s still totally crazy and hyperactive, only now he gets paid for it.
Although ballet is traditionally associated with girls in pink tutus flying around, being lifted in the air, it’s the guys in white tights behind us that make our work look effortless. It doesn’t matter how they started, we’re just thankful they did. ‘The Nutcracker’ just wouldn’t be the same without The Fritz.
True story bro.