Created By: ryanasaurus0077 on December 25, 2013 Last Edited By: ryanasaurus0077 on March 12, 2016

Dainty Little Ballet Dancers

Anyone who\'s a classically trained ballet dancer can be considered delicate

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Needs a Better Description.

They're ballet dancers. They're participants in a traditionally feminine activity. So they've got to be delicate, right?

Simply put, this is when ballet dancers are portrayed as delicate little flowers of femininity, even though ballet is by its very nature as physically taxing as contact sports, if not moreso. Ballerinas often get this treatment, though male dancers get this just as often, despite the fact that they need to be strong enough to so much as lift their partners. Ballerinas are actually just as strong themselves muscle-wise in Real Life.

See also Ballet and Real Men Wear Pink.

WARNING: This trope is full of Unfortunate Implications, both because although ballet dancers are considered dainty and delicate, the form requires great strength, and because it reinforces old, sexist ideas of manhood, making any man a "sissy" who does ballet.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Mytho from Princess Tutu is a rare male example, being depicted as being extremely vulnerable in particular; he keeps letting himself be injured unintentionally and reacting passively to everything. This is a plot element and he winds up getting stronger later and doing things like sword fighting monsters, but not until going through an emotional roller-coaster of crying and freaking out and so forth. Basically everyone in his life wants to shelter him and protect him in some way. His character design is also very dainty and frail looking, pale skin, girly pale hair, and big eyes.
  • Averted in chapter 307 of Urusei Yatsura. Hoshikuzu's (admittedly unconventional) ballet teacher, Ryuunosuke, is no delicate flower, and Hoshikuzu's tryout at the end of the chapter has her make a landing that breaks the floor underneath her.

Comic Books
  • In an Archie Comics story, Archie and Reggie make fun of Veronica's "sissy" ballet instructor, until he uses dance moves to beat up some thugs threatening them. The two of them then take ballet lessons with him themselves.

Film
  • Inverted in The Cutting Edge. Kate Moseley is a talented figure skater, but difficult to work with. Her coach's search for a new partner leads her to none other than Doug Dorsey, a hockey player - and built like one.
  • Titanic: Rose uses her ballet lessons to show up a bunch of "real tough men" by standing on her toes for several excruciating seconds.
  • Despicable Me: Gru's three adorable little daughters are all tough in different ways. But they all take their ballet seriously enough to tell Gru flat out that his plans don't trump their ballet classes. They wear white Tutus for Swan Lake, and their pink tutus and shoes for the Dance Party Ending of the movie.
    • Margo is tough because she's the oldest and had to grow up quickest to look after her two younger sisters.
    • Edith is tough in the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter in training sort of way.
    • Agnes is a fighter in the tiny toddler tornado way: threaten something she loves (like her unicorn) and she turns into a whirlwind of deadly screaming tantrum.
  • Outrageous Fortune: Lauren is a bit of a Spoiled Sweet, but her ballet classes come in handy when the bad guy is chasing her across the buttes of the Southwest. She is able to make incredible leaps across from one separate plateau to the other because of the leaps she learned, that the bad guy has trouble matching — until he misses altogether and falls to his death.

Literature
  • Averted in Dave Barry Does Japan where Dave recalls a ballet performance on an outdoor scene.
    In the climactic scene, the lead ballerina got picked up by one of the male dancers, who was apparently supposed to waft her effortlessly offstage, but he had trouble keeping her aloft, plus her tutu blocked his vision, so he lunged forward, building up a head of steam, and rammed her headfirst smack into the hedge. Then he backed up, changed course slightly and ran her into the hedge again, before he managed to stagger offstage, shrubbery clinging to both their costumes. I was moved to tears.

Theatre
  • In On the Town, the "Miss Turnstiles" ballet has Ivy Smith assuming an improbably wide range of personalities. Ivy and her Leitmotif are presented at first in a delicate "Allegretto di 'Ballet Class'" (which is in 5/4 time), though the ensuing variations on her theme culminate by showing off her athletic side.

Western Animation
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Billy wants to be a ballet dancer, his father, won't allow it because "dancing is for weaklings". As it turns out, the only reason he thinks this is because his own father used that logic to dash HIS dream to become one. In the end, he rejects that ideology and performs the Maboohai Shuffle to defeat Pollywinkle and save Billy.
  • In a episode of The Flintstones, Gazoo teaches Fred some rudimentary ballet to improve his bowling skills. They try to do it in secret, but Fred's friends find out anyway and have a good laugh. Ultimately, the poise and precision Fred acquired while learning ballet made him an excellent bowler.
  • An example of this trope being inverted for humorous value is in Disney's Fantasia, which depicts hippos in tutus dancing to Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours."

Other
  • Another humorous inversion in the form of numerous images of gorillas, bears, and other scary animals wearing tutus all over the Internet.

Real Life
  • Averted to a degree within football circles: a number of coaches and players are aware of the strength ballet requires, and take it as a way to develop their muscles.
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • December 28, 2013
    peccantis
    Can this be expanded to include all kinds of stock frill ballet themes get in visual art forms? You know the thing with ribbons and flounces and flowers and all kinds of flowing and fluttering stuff going everywhere that would be a hazard to a dancer's health if worn to actual dance. Or perhaps it's the other way around, ballet is part of the stock imagery under the file Femininity and Girliness along with ribbons and prettiness and pink things and you know the deal.

    Is there some film about a boy named Elliot who wants to be a ballet dancer? I got the impression that it could be an example.
  • December 28, 2013
    kjnoren
  • December 29, 2013
    ryanasaurus0077
    ^^ Certainly. How would I word it, though? As for Billy Elliot? I haven't seen the film yet, so I don't know whether it's an example.
  • December 30, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Peccantis: You mean how ballet costumes make no sense? I don't think that belongs here...
  • December 30, 2013
    ryanasaurus0077
    There's a trope for that, too, though I can't seem to think of what it is. Take it to this thread.
  • January 4, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Hello! Any more examples? And some context for Billy Elliot, please?
  • January 4, 2014
    m8e
  • January 4, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    If there's one thing I can stand less than a pronounced lack of examples in a YKTTW, it's when both given examples are Zero Context Examples. Please provide context, and a page image would be nice. Perhaps Angelina herself would be a good fit for the page image?
  • January 14, 2014
    Prfnoff
    In On The Town, the "Miss Turnstiles" ballet has Ivy Smith assuming an improbably wide range of personalities. Ivy and her Leitmotif are presented at first in a delicate "Allegretto di 'Ballet Class'" (which is in 5/4 time), though the ensuing variations on her theme culminate by showing off her athletic side.
  • January 14, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    I find it strange for kjnoren himself to provide Zero Context Example.

    EDIT: oh, he was replying to a question.

    ryanasaurus0077
    anyway, I'm not familiar with it but maybe a particularly standount dainty character from Princess Tutu would count?

    given it has been featured in all your Ballet The Series trope family.
  • January 14, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    I'll have to rewatch that one, but I think many of the ballet dancers in the series are examples, including a bunch of the one-shots.
  • January 23, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Right... I see a Motion to Discard, and I know which examples are to blame. Those examples need context for certain.
  • January 23, 2014
    Prfnoff
    A better title might help. I don't think it's necessary for this trope to be in the plural.
  • January 24, 2014
    frosty
    I've actually been considering making Dancing Is Feminine for portrayals of (mostly male, not necessarily ballet) dancers as being excessively feminine, unmanly, weak, or hinting that they might be gay, etc. Would that be distinct enough from this?
  • January 28, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    It'd probably be a subtrope.
  • January 28, 2014
    frosty
    I figured sister or super, because it focuses on more than ballet. But I'll go ahead and make it.
  • February 7, 2014
    peccantis
    Found some good examples from YKTTW for Dancing Is Unmanly
  • February 7, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Older examples sorted. Two of those still need context.
  • April 5, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Any context on the Billy Elliot and Angelina Ballerina examples?
  • April 5, 2014
    gallium
    Not tropeworthy, motion to discard.
  • April 5, 2014
    m8e
    Will try to check out Angelina Ballerina, everything screams "dainty", but it might be averted at some points.

    Have seen Billy Elliot but that's like 13 years ago, might rewatch it.
  • April 5, 2014
    Boston
    Since Tropes Are Flexible, I'm going to throw this out there, as a possible inversion: In The Cutting Edge, Kate Moseley is a talented figure skater, but difficult to work with. Her coach's search for a new partner leads her to none other than Doug Dorsey, a hockey player - and built like one.
  • May 4, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Any hats? Any more examples? Any way to prove gallium wrong?
  • October 2, 2014
    rexpensive
    Well I am not going to give it a hat b/c it still needs work, but I do think it is tropeworthy.

    Wish I could help, I do not watch a lot of stuff w/ ballet in it. I saw Princess Tutu but that is about it.
  • October 2, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Can you give any specific examples from Princess Tutu?
  • October 3, 2014
    Chabal2
    Averted in Dave Barry Does Japan where Dave recalls a ballet performance on an outdoor scene.
    In the climactic scene, the lead ballerina got picked up by one of the male dancers, who was apparently supposed to waft her effortlessly offstage, but he had trouble keeping her aloft, plus her tutu blocked his vision, so he lunged forward, building up a head of steam, and rammed her headfirst smack into the hedge. Then he backed up, changed course slightly and ran her into the hedge again, before he managed to stagger offstage, shrubbery clinging to both their costumes. I was moved to tears.
    • Titanic: Rose uses her ballet lessons to show up a bunch of "real tough men" by standing on her toes for several excruciating seconds.

  • October 3, 2014
    rexpensive
    Well, in Princess Tutu none of the dancers are portrayed as being particularly weak, and it is clear that the dancing is hard to do, but they are all drawn with tiny, dainty limbs and such. Mytho, one of the primary male dancers, is depicted as being extremely vulnerable in particular; he keeps letting himself be injured unintentionally and reacting passively to everything. This is a plot element and he winds up getting stronger later and doing things like sword fighting monsters, but not until going through an emotional roller-coaster of crying and freaking out and so forth. Basically everyone in his life wants to shelter him and protect him in some way. His character design is also very dainty and frail looking, pale skin, girly pale hair, and big eyes.

    I have no idea if that helps or not.
  • October 3, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    I hope that nets this a hat myself.
  • October 3, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    • In a episode of The Flintstones, Gazoo teaches Fred some rudimentary ballet to improve his bowling skills. They try to do it in secret, but Fred's friends find out anyway and have a good laugh. Ultimately, the poise and precision Fred acquired while learning ballet made him an excellent bowler.
  • October 4, 2014
    SvartiKotturinn
    I think this pic is a good illustrator.
  • October 4, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    Unfortunately, no can do; the Korea Times doesn't like hotlinked images.
  • October 7, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^Neither does TV Tropes. Whatever pic is used would be loaded onto the TVT server.
  • October 7, 2014
    Skylite
    Real life Ballet requires hardcore dedication. Ballerinas have to deal with bruised ankles and broken toes and still perform.

    • Pound Puppies "Cuddle Up Buttercup": The "don't judge a book by its cover" Aesop is illustrated by a puppy refusing a little girl in a tutu who dances over to her. The same tutu-wearing girl turns out to be a Tomboy Action Girl who rescues the same puppy from harm later while still wearing the pink tutu, and proves to be the perfect person.
    • Teen Titans Inverted in "Bunny Raven". Cyborg is turned into a bear in a pink tutu.
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Inverted: "The Return of Harmony, Part 2:" The noble and dignified Buffalo from "Over A Barrel" dance across the screen in ballet leotards, tutus, tights, and pointe shoes.
    • Steven Universe: Pearl is the daintiest and most prissy and feminine-appearing of the Crystal Gems, but when they go on a mission, her ballet becomes part of her Dance Battler repetoire, and she is capable of kicking a lot of ass.
  • October 7, 2014
    Boston
    This trope is often inverted for humorous value — Disney's Fantasia depicts hippos in tutus dancing to Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours." You can also find numerous images of gorillas, bears, and other scary animals wearing tutus all over the internet.
  • October 8, 2014
    Patachou
    This may warrant a trope in itself, but I noticed that ballet dancing is often Played For Laughs by letting a man suddenly appear in tutu and prance around. It happens a lot in cartoons like Magical Maestro and the Looney Tunes cartoon Hippety Hopper. Men in dresses are considered funny in American pop culture, but the real problem with this Stock joke is that is comes from the stereotype that all male ballet dancers are sissies and the incorrect idea that they all wear tutus. In reality only female ballet dancers wear tutu dresses.
  • October 8, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    For the most part, anyway. I saw a video where Vladimir Malakhov, clad in a black tutu, did an Affectionate Parody of Sylvie Guillem's performance of Gsovsky's "Grand Pas Classique".
  • October 8, 2014
    Skylite
    I think @Patachou has a valid point, but it can probably be just a note at the bottom indicating this trope generates Unfortunate Implications by holding on to old, sexist ideas of manhood.
  • October 8, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    How would I format it?
  • October 13, 2014
    Skylite
    You would just type a paragraph before the linebreak like:

    "This trope is full of Unfortunate Implications, both because although ballet dancers are considered dainty and delicate, the form requires great strength, and because it reinforces old, sexist ideas of manhood, making any man a "sissy" who does ballet."
  • October 26, 2014
    Skylite
    • Despicable Me: Gru's three adorable little daughters are all tough in different ways. But they all take their ballet seriously enough to tell Gru flat out that his plans don't trump their ballet classes. Their pink tutus turn Gru's space suit pink. They wear white tutus for Swan Lake, and for the Dance Party Ending of the movie.
      • Margo is tough because she's the oldest and had to grow up quickest to look after her two younger sisters.
      • Edith is tough in the Mad Scientists Beautiful Daughter in training sort of way.
      • Agnes is a fighter in the tiny toddler tornado way: threaten something she loves (like her unicorn) and she turns into a whirlwind of deadly screaming tantrum.
    • Outrageous Fortune: Lauren is a bit of a Spoiled Sweet, but her ballet classes come in handy when the bad guy is chasing her across the buttes of the Southwest. She is able to make incredible leaps across from one separate plateau to the other because of the leaps she learned, that the bad guy has trouble matching — until he misses altogether and falls to his death.

  • November 28, 2014
    Skylite
    This link: balletnews.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Swan-Lake-700x878.png might serve as a good page image, as it displays both the fact that it looks dainty, and that it also clearly requires great strength.
  • November 28, 2014
    ryanasaurus0077
    (frustrated at the message being displayed in place of the image) Right! Time to go to the image uploader.
  • March 11, 2016
    ryanasaurus0077
    Bump
  • March 11, 2016
    DAN004
    So someone who fights with ballet is an aversion, right?
  • March 12, 2016
    Koolkev
    About Steven Universe, I would argue that Pearl isn't exactly a "classically trained ballet dancer", she just happens to be a Dance Battler who has the getup of a ballet dancer, complete with the tutu, but she hardly uses or performs ballet. Kinda like how Amethyst looks like a diva pop star and Garnet looks like a "disco girl", theyre all musical motifs...huh didnt notice that till now...

    • Maybe Black Swan characters would count? Havent seen it myself but I know its about ballet.

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