A normal guy and the ballet

John David Back
May 2, 2016 · 4 min read

I say normal guy to mean I’m not particularly artistic — I’ve never taken a dance class and it’s not like I know choreographers names or french terms for the moves the dancers do. I actually still thought you said ‘ballerina’ until last week, when I learned you just say ‘dancer.’

I also mean I’m straight. I don’t think I’m incorrect in saying that a lot of men probably think ballet is ‘for women’ and that most straight guys aren’t into it. People are often saying ‘You’re so sweet for going with your mom to the ballet!’ I’ll say it right now: that kind of shit is ridiculous.

This is not at all what the ballet looks like today. Also is that guy wearing a diaper?

The Cincinnati Ballet is f*cking awesome.

This season, the 2015–16 season, was the first that I bought season tickets. Meaning, I saw a lot of ballet this year. Talk about a baptism by fire — I went from maybe 1 ballet every 3 years, to 6 or 7 ballets in a few months. I saw a hell of a lot of women standing on their tip-toes and a hell of a lot of men in preeeeeetty tight pants.

I’m writing this because of the performance I saw on Saturday, which was called Director’s Choice (the Director being Victoria Morgan who is like the queen of Cincinnati ballet and also the face of it and also seems like maybe she’d quite literally kill someone over a ballet-related disagreement). This particular work, made up of four distinct parts, was all female choreographed. And let me tell you one thing:

Female choreographers are in no way afraid of female sexuality.

Holy. Hell. After the the first ‘act’ ended with a piece called Habitual, which was just two dancers, a male ()and a female (), I was literally sweating. I was almost panting. If you can imagine a darkened stage, two young dancers/athletes in peak, and I mean absolute PEAK, physical condition, dancing with classically trained and nearly unbridled sensuality. I was 95% sure they were just going to go at it on stage. I wanted to cover the eyes of the 6-year-old girl in front of me.

The ballet is not what you think. It’s not old-timey prance-y frolicking done to old violin concertos. It’s aggressive, visceral, sexual. It’s the rawest human emotions channeled into visuals by the highest trained, most talented, most perfectly constructed human beings on earth. After going to the ballet, it’s literally unfathomable that people sit and watch ‘America’s Got Talent’ at home when they could literally go see real people with real talent IN PERSON.

I want to end this with a list of why the ballet is so much the shit that you’d be insane to not attend at least one performance:

The Cincinnati Ballet is the best entertainment in the city

  1. You can hear and see a story with not a single word being spoken. Love. Tragedy. Death. Sex. Anger. Pride.
  2. Ballet makes a great date. People will think you’re refined and smart and sensitive. Chicks dig it.
  3. The women are absolutely stunningly beautiful. It’s not even sexual in nature — it’s just amazing to see such physical specimens. These gals are better at ballet than you’ll ever be at anything in your entire life.
  4. — this dancer stalks the stage. Watching him you feel like he’s got an untapped and limitless capacity for violence, somehow. He paces the stage like a caged panther. At one point, the soloists James and Ana are dancing together, getting frisky, and he enters stage right. I literally wanted to either shout ‘WATCH OUT!’ or hit the deck myself.
  5. The men are also fit as hell. Despite what you may think, these guys are brutally strong athletes. They are in the gym every single day, lifting weights.
  6. The ballet is not that expensive. It’s cheaper than a Bengals game.
  7. You can take booze into the auditorium at the Aronoff. That’s top shelf liquor, wine, beer, whatever. Get crunk.
  8. The music is super, super good. Whether it’s select players from the CSO, the Pops, Over the Rhine, what have you, it’s always top notch.
  9. The dancers are largely the same performance to performance. You can get to know them. Over the course of the season I’ve learned their names, their styles, who I like and who I don’t, and what to expect from them. See ‘Patric’ above.
  10. — enough said.
  11. Okay, .

That’s it. Take it from me, do yourself a favor and head to the ballet in this upcoming season at least once. You won’t regret it. Do one of the more non-traditional performances like .

A couple of notes to myself about this experience and season

John David Back

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