Eva Heinsberg (LTV program editor)
There are currently 26 male dancers dancing in the Latvian National Ballet, 11 of them are from abroad. In today’s open world, perhaps this is not unusual, but the question arises – maybe ballet does not seem like a masculine profession to us Latvians?
“It’s an extremely masculine profession, after all it’s a sport, a hard sport, those girls are often not the easiest and I, for example, have to go to the gym to adequately fulfill my work duties, it’s a very physical job,” says Latvijas Soloist of the National Ballet, choreographer Antons Freimans.
If so, why is there a lack of boys at the Ballet School? The head of the Riga Ballet School, Agnese Andersone, says: “That big upsurge and that time of men is already 20, 30, 40 years ago, and it is connected with the cult – the cult of men in the art of acting, cinema and, I think, it is a completely different era and a time when the male actor, dancer, singer was in a very different role than the man of today who has to go out and earn money. The endurance, the strength that is required to master this profession is amazing. I suppose it is even a public concern about whether my child will be able to handle it.”
Choreographer Anton Freiman notes: “One of the reasons why I believe people should come to ballet and dance, especially boys, is that sometimes I can’t believe that what I’m doing is my job, because it feels so easy an ultra-exciting hobby that pays, and it must be said – it pays more than the average national salary!”
Gustav, who is the only boy in the 5th grade of the Riga Ballet School, also has his own opinion on whether ballet is masculine or not. “I’ve had people say that, but I personally don’t think so. It’s actually very hard! I’d say it’s very manly to do ballet because you train every day. I think it’s harder than most other sports ,” says ballet school student Gustavs Erdmanis-Hermanis.
When asked if the boys are afraid of negative comments about dancing in ballet, he says: “I don’t understand the negative things that people tell me about it all, because I don’t see the point of listening to it all and then going through it myself!”
But maybe the guys have a question – how do I pull those tights on? Riga Ballet School pedagogue Sergejs Biserov points out: “It’s more a question of the level of education, because first of all, when we are little guys, we really feel that way. For a 10-12-year-old youngster dancing a serious dance on the big stage and seeing the real artists, you immediately all the ideas that it’s not for boys and that you have to wear some kind of tights go away. They begin to understand in time the beauty of the body, the strength of the body, the agility of the body and that dance is the expression of the soul through a trained body. Then there is a completely different view of their bodies and the fact that their legs are stretched out and that they’re wearing leotards, and that’s where the masculinity is.”
The Riga Ballet School offers the opportunity to learn for children from all over Latvia and already on February 17th invites to an open day, and Gustav also has his own invitation: “Ballet is quite difficult if you try! You need great discipline! I would also like more guys! I would say – let him come and try!”