Sometimes in a series, one or more main characters will get the urge to try some ballet. In that episode, there will be a ballet thematic permeating the atmosphere. Expect some music from one of Tchaikovsky's three ballets (or from some other ballet) to be played at some point. Expect someone to wear a tutu and/or tights. And especially expect a lot of dancing.
This trope concerns those episodic installments where ballet plays an important role in the plot, in stark contrast to the larger work of which it's a part. It may be in the form of someone going to a ballet class or performing in a show or just going to the show/rehearsal, but such episodes will often make reference to classical ballet within their story, and it's a sure bet at least one of the main characters will be involved.
The following scenarios are possible for such installments:
- A tough character wants or needs to explore their sensitive side - whether by their own choice or at the urging of others - and takes up ballet.
- Alternatively, one or more people discover that the tough character does ballet, and their perceptions of the tough character are changed.
- A traditionally masculine character wants or needs to immerse themselves in the "girls' world" and decides to take a ballet class for some reason.
- A male character secretly enjoys ballet and/or other "girly" things but doesn't want to reveal to his traditionally masculine friends.
- A dreamy, idealistic character (usually a little girl) dreams of being in the ballet and signs up for class... but learns it isn't as glamorous and dreamy as they expected.
- A character with no previous interest in ballet discovers a unique talent for it, and has to decide what to do with their talent.
Around half the time it will be a boy taking up ballet. He will be ridiculed by the others, but still shine through in the end. Another typical plot element is having a male character appear in female ballet dress. Good for cheap laughs.
Often part of a Billy Elliot Plot
. For larger or standalone works about ballet, see, well, Ballet
Anime and Manga
- Sailor Moon has the episode "Aim for the Prima! Usagi's Ballet", where Usagi and Chibiusa try out for a local production of Giselle, as does Fisheye. The other Inner Senshi also go to ballet class. When a jealous Fisheye attacks the balletmaster and sends in the Monster of the Week, it's up to Sailor Moon to save the day.
- Volume 3 of The Cherry Project concentrates on Asuka Chieri's efforts to improve her skating technique. She takes inspiration from a performance of Swan Lake to which she had been mysteriously invited.
- Main character Minto Aizawa is established early on in Tokyo Mew Mew to be a classically-trained ballerina, but episode 9 of the anime deserves a special mention here as it centers on one of her performances, with the other important plot point of the episode being a visit from her older brother. Even the Monster of the Week has a ballet thematic to it.
- Shugo Chara! manga chapter 9 and anime episode 6 not only features the debut of Amulet Spade, it's also an example of this as Yaya is shown to be a ballet student, and the episode centers on a recital for an apparently In-Universe ballet about flower fairies, with the Victim of the Week having been sidelined by a sprained ankle and Yaya taking her place as prima ballerina for the recital. Amu is also put in the same pink tutu as the corps de ballet, but she doesn't dance in that outfit.
- Happiness Charge Pretty Cure takes this Up to Eleven by assigning this role to The Movie.
- Go! Princess Pretty Cure has Cure Mermaid's debut episode, in which Minami teaches Haruka ballet.
- Chapter 307 of Urusei Yatsura has Ryuunosuke give one-shot character Hoshikuzu an unconventional and rather intense crash course in ballet.
- The Magical Angel Creamy Mami episode "Yuu's Flashdance" pits Yuu against a dance school in an aptitude test.
- The focus of the Pokémon episode "The Misty Mermaid" is an underwater synchronized swimming show in which Misty gets involved through a series of circumstances. Reinforced by Team Rocket's disguises in the episode. The show later returns in "Luvdisc Is a Many-Splendored Thing", with Violet in the lead this time around.
- Love Live! has a two-episode arc which reveals Ayase Eli to have studied ballet in her younger days. The latter episode, "What I Want to Do Is...", centers on Eli teaching her friends ballet.
- Lois Lane went undercover as a ballerina in an issue of Superman Family—she'd had lessons as a child, but her more recent martial arts training proved the key to successfully completing the assignment.
- The Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy episode "Flying with Broken Wings" centers on a devastating injury Hanae suffers that almost causes her to quit dancing. The rest of the Cures put on a ballet show of their own in a successful attempt to make her feel better.
- Given the stylistic origins of rhythmic gymnastics, Rhythmic Pretty Cure is bound to have at least a few. For example, "The Good, the Bad and the Secret" has a concert featuring Tsumugi's younger brother Hiroyuki as its B-plot, and an upcoming crossover with Sailor Moon Crystal will see all of Class G having ballet lessons at Yamagishi's studio in Azabu Juuban.
- The Little Rascals:
- In "Rushin' Ballet" Alfalfa and Spanky disguise themselves as ballerinas and find themselves Pushed in Front of the Audience during a recital. Antagonists Butch & Worm dress up like boy balletists and sneak on too in order to continue beating up on Alfalfa. The same plot point was used in the 1994 film.
- In another short Froggy woos his gal Marylin by putting on a ballet recital. Since he knows nothing of ballet he uses Wire Fu to make great leaps.
- In Despicable Me, Gru's adopted trio of little girls are in ballet class for an upcoming recital for Swan Lake, and the girls want him to come see it, but he has doubts because the date conflicts with his own plans. This becomes an important subplot in the latter half of the movie because it represents a turning point in Gru's character development. Character wise, he was, at first, adverse to even letting them go to class. Then at the end, he went through hoops and turns just to be in their dance recital. Personality wise, he was at first too "evil" to care about little things like the girls' own personal lives, then at the end he warmed up enough to them to the point he'll give up his dreams for them and protect them at all costs, and he also got his spacesuit colored pink... because real foster fathers wear pink.
- Both Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci have ballet movies amongst their directorial filmographies. Argento's is called Suspiria, which is also this to his Three Mothers Trilogy and is about a coven of witches who use a prestigious ballet school in Germany as a cover for their dealings in black magic, and Fulci's is a stand-alone giallo called Murder Rock, which is about a ballet teacher who investigates a series of murders targeting her students.
- Unseen Academicals: Part of Nutt's football training involves taking the University team to the ballet, much to the surprise of everyone else. He says it's to help them learn poise and balance.
- While he doesn't actually perform, in the Angel episode "Waiting in the Wings", ex-gangbanger Gunn finds himself dragged to the ballet and is so into it by the end he's giving a standing ovation.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dawn performs a short ballet with her captors in "Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 6 E 7 Once More With Feeling" as she tries to escape their grasp.
- In Community, Troy and Britta go to a ballet class together in the first season.
- I Love Lucy has one, where Lucy tries studying ballet but ends up being better at comedy (as demonstrated with a variation on "Slowly I Turned").
- An episode of Victorious had the guys join ballet class in order to meet girls. Unfortunately, all the other guys in their school had the same idea, and the class had no females besides the instructor.
- The Brady Bunch: In one episode Jan quits the ballet class she had apparently been going to all this time but it never came up before because her teacher said that Cindy was a better dancer than her. Jan goes through several other dance styles trying to find the one she's good at.
- In Cheers episode "Dance, Diane, Dance", Diane follows her dream and auditions for the Boston ballet. She is terrible.
- A season 2 episode of The Muppet Show featured Rudolf Nureyev as the celebrity guest, as well as a dance number called "Swine Lake" with an unnamed pig (who, contrary to popular belief, is not Miss Piggy).
- Some episodes of Barney & Friends have a ballet segment within the episode. For example:
- In "Practice Makes Music", pianist Greg Murray plays "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" as four young, unnamed ballerinas (and one young boy balletist in the middle of the line) do a brief performance to the music.
- In "I Just Love Bugs", when imagining themselves as butterflies, Luci, Tina, and Derek perform a brief butterfly ballet while wearing capes that are supposed to resemble butterfly wings. This time, the music was "Dance of the Reed Flutes".
- "Dance of the Reed Flutes" makes a return during Barney and Min's pas de deux in "Grown Ups for a Day" after Min tells Barney that when she grows up, she wants to be a professional dancer.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron the Terminator has an affinity for ballet, and in at least one episode she's taking ballet lessons.
- In one episode of The Odd Couple, Felix gets involved in a production of Swan Lake. He even forces Oscar into dancing one of the roles.
- Murder, She Wrote: In "Danse Diabolique", Jessica unravels the death of a ballerina after she dances a ballet that has killed everyone who has tried it.
- The Friends episode "The One With The Ballroom Dancing" would be a half-example, where Joey must become Mr. Treeger's dance partner after he argued over Treeger making Rahcel cry and nearly got Monica and Rachel kicked out for illegally subletting the apartment. He ends up enjoying it.
- Lamb Chop's Play-Along has "Born to Dance", in which Lamb Chop takes up a new hobby. No points for guessing what the hobby is.
- The Muppet Babies episode "Twinkle-Toed Muppets" sees the babies trying to teach Scooter how to dance. A debate between Miss Piggy and Skeeter on the nature of ballet serves as the B-story.
- The Flintstones had two examples of this:
- "Rushin' Ballet" gave Fred Flintstone his trademark "twinkletoes" bowling style.
- In "My Fair Freddy" (one of the very last episodes of the series), Barney and the Great Gazoo stage a charm school for Fred in the garage (with Gazoo promising not to use his magic for once) after Fred and Wilma find themselves accepted into a Country Club. Fred ends up dancing ballet in tights and a small tutu as part of the class. Unknown to them all, Wilma and Betty see Fred doing this and Wilma is touched by Fred's intentions, but eventually this attracts a crowd of people around Bedrock (including the Loyal Order of Water Bufflos), who discreetly watch Fred. Fred eventually ends his ballet and discovers the crowd watching him, driving him into Shameful Shrinking.
- The B-story of The Simpsons episode "Homer vs. Patty and Selma'' has Bart forced to take ballet for gym class after he comes late to class and all the other electives were taken. He becomes surprisingly good at it, but performs wearing a mask to keep from being teased. When the school bullies become moved by his performance, Bart unmasks himself, thinking that they will accept him now. They wail on him anyway.
- Another Simpsons example has Lisa being forced by Marge to live her dream of being a ballerina (she tried out as an adult, but her leg got stuck in place while practicing), where she discovers that the ballerina take up smoking to make themselves better. Homer and Bart steal the cigarettes before the big recital, causing them all to breakdown in front of everybody, followed by Lisa denouncing the art of ballet.
- In the short "Loon Lake" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Music Day", Shirley the Loon attends a ballet class alongside the snooty Perfecto Prep swans, led by Giselle. The Swans bully her, mostly by making fun of the way she talks, but with Babs' encouragement (and backstage sabotage), Shirley manages to outshine the Swans at their recital.
- In an episode of Arthur Binky joins a ballet class, and in other episodes (including "Revenge of the Chip") this interest in ballet continues.
- One episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks has a boy who's a ballet dancer stay with the Chipmunks. The story ends with the boy and Alvin (the latter wearing a pink tutu) performing a spectacular pas de deux.
- The Babar episode "The Show Must Go On", with a female ostrich ballet dancer who is The Prima Donna.
- In Nickelodeon's CatDog, an episode reveals that Cliff of The Greasers takes ballet lessons and that's the reason for his strength.
- In the Doug episode "Doug Wears Tights", Doug Funnie (accidentally) signs up for the lead role in a school ballet, and he ends up getting caught up in a rivalry between Patty Mayonnaise and Beebe Bluff.
- "Dance Lessons," an episode of Recess has Spinelli being enrolled in dance classes by her parents over her latest fight at school. She finds out that Mikey is willingly in the same class, and they end up being dance partners.
- A few episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood involve ballet, which is Katerina's big interest: "Katerina Shares Her Tutu", in which Daniel borrows his friend Katerina's tutu to use as a lion's mane as she uses it as a set of flower petals; "Tutu All the Time", in which Katerina wants to wear her tutu all day and ends up learning the appropriate times to wear it; and "Neighborhood Nutcracker", in which Daniel fills in for his friend Prince Wednesday for a local production of The Nutcracker when the latter is incapacitated by illness.
- Really, PBS Kids programs seem to be fond of them. The special hour-long Christmas Episode of The Magic School Bus, for example, centers on a performance of The Nutcracker that Wanda wants to go see.
- Super Why! has "Molly's Dance Show", in which the Super Readers help Princess Pea overcome her stage fright before a dance recital.
- The Little Mermaid episode "Wish Upon a Starfish" centers on Ariel wanting to be a ballerina, inspired by a music box she had just salvaged. In the UK, the volume on which it appeared on VHS even got the title "Ariel the Ballerina".
- The Fred Rogers Company returns to this concept with the Peg + Cat episode "The Dance Problem", where the title characters take the stage with guest star Misty Copeland. The problem is Cat's tail getting in his way.