I periodically have people ask me why I, a straight guy, love ballet so much and why I insist on dancing it on a regular basis. To me, at a basic level, it is because ballet is the perfect combination of intellectual challenge, physical workout, and artistic expression, all in one package. But, really, ballet is so much more than that, and dancers male and female are in reality very talented and tough individuals who deserve much more respect than they are generally given.
Take this picture, for example.
This picture was posted on the Facebook page of Lovin' Ballet & Dance. There was no identifying information about the dancer or the production, so I cannot tell who she is or of what this is a performance. What I can tell you is that this is a picture of an absolutely amazing performance, and is basically a thousand-word essay as to why ballet is such an incredible endeavor.
For starters, look at the dancer's face. Look at her eyes. Remember, ballet allows no vocalizations, so only the dances, outfits, gestures, facial expressions, and eyes can be used to convey the plot of the ballet and what is going on on stage. So, she has this tempting gaze, this alluring smile, but with a hint of mischief or even deception involved. Her right arm -- which as a girl friend of mine pointed out is heavily muscled, moreso than most men, in fact - is beckoning, probably to a male performer on stage. The image she gives is one of a siren -- the Odyssey's Sirens? The German Lorelei? -- in the process of luring someone to at best a fate that will not be what he expects or hopes.
Now, look at the dancer's feet. She is doing all of this facial expression and gesturing sous sous en pointe. Right on the boxes of her pointe shoes.
This one pose is just a masterpiece of art when you look behind it all. Whoever this ballerina is, she is one hell of a performer. I wish her well.