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. 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. See also Ballet and Real Men Wear Pink.
ExamplesAnime 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Nina Sayers in Black Swan is a professional Ballet dancer who possesses an incredibly low self-esteem who suffers pressure from her overbearing mother, her critical, sexually-harassing boss, her manipulative frenemy Lily and bulimia brought on by a need to be perfect. The pressure leads to her slow, methodical mental breakdown across the film, including hallucinations, mood-swings and eventual Uncertain Doom via suicide.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Overwatch, Widowmaker was a ballet dancer before her Face–Monster Turn into one of the world's most feared assassins. The trope is played with, since In-Universe she was treated as a harmless civilian (and her original persona is contrasted with her current one), but it also meant she was physically fit enough that she was a threat after becoming Brainwashed and Crazy.
- 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.
- Pearl's appearance, fighting style and low self-esteem in Steven Universe emulate this trope, basing her on the traditional ballet dancer. Averted, as while her lanky appearance make her seem delicate, she is much stronger than any human, and is able to hold her own against monsters and other gems.
- Another humorous inversion in the form of numerous images of gorillas, bears, and other scary animals wearing tutus all over the Internet.
- 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.