Trend Watch: Is ballet suddenly the new 'Twilight'?

ballerinasImage Credit: Tatiana Beller/PR Photos; Niko TaverniseOkay, I know, I know. But bear with me here: Both surround beautiful things that can cause bodily harm (Twilight: vampires; ballet: pointe shoes), both involve glitter (Twilight: sparkly vampires!; ballet: sparkly costumes!), both involve forbidden love (Twilight: between vampires and humans; ballet: between ballerinas and Hostess products), and both are enjoying their moment in the spotlight. That’s right: Ballet is so hot right now. Or, I should say, the dark underbelly of the ballet world is so hot right now.

Let’s run it down: For months now, chatter has surrounded Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, a ballet thriller about the art form’s dangerously competitive nature that has ignited Oscar talk for star Natalie Portman. Then a pack of black leotard-clad ballerinas toasted the a-hole that is Kanye West in his “Runaway” video. Furthermore, New York City Ballet principal Jenifer Ringer made headlines yesterday after The New York Times‘ Alastair Macaulay said the dancer “looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many” in his review of the company’s Nutcracker. (Dude, as a writer, I love me my puns, but that was way harsh, Tai.) And finally, news broke today that Chloë Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley, and Bailee Madison have joined Kristen Bell in Dance of the Mirlitons, a film about a curvy ballerina with a stage mom (Bell) who attempts to make it in the tough business. (Producer Daniel Dubiecki’s rep confirms The Hollywood Reporter‘s report with EW; Madison will play the ballerina, Moretz will play the class’ ace pupil, and Haley will play a sadistic Russian ballet teacher in the film, which will be helmed by Evan Greenberg.)

And yet, I’m conflicted about ballet’s trendy, dark turn in pop-culture: I love the romantic mood surrounding dance films like The Turning Pointe, and I love Center Stage‘s silly spin on the art (though, admittedly, even that frivolous film addressed eating disorders). But as a former ballerina, I’m also all too aware of the pain and suffering attached to dance. I’m happy to see it represented for what it is: A fairly painful art form that involves plenty of blood and gumption. (Not to say that Black Swan is 100 percent realistic or that youngsters should flock to the theaters to see the very R-rated film.) It’s important that the young folk realize the dangers of dance before becoming seduced by the glitter and glitz. (See? Like Bella! I know… I hate myself now too.)

What about you, PopWatchers? Do you like your ballet dark, or with plenty of cream and sugar(plums)?

Read more:
‘Black Swan': Can Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis both score Oscar nods?

Comments (51 total) Add your comment
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  • Josie

    I love all ballet – I mean, I ran crying out of my first ballet lesson, but I love to watch it on screen. I saw (or read) an interesting interview with Natalie Portman talking about her diet for the film. She said that she under-ate, and that is just what is accepted in the world of ballet.

    She was filming something else and couldn’t go out and drink with her buddies because her diet and exercise regime wouldn’t allow it.

    I think that to be a ballerina, you have to make a tough decision early in your life, before you can understand the consequences.

    But the same can be said for gymnastics, among other sports.

    But i have loved the influx of ballet in pop culture, and I love checking up on The Ballerina Project on tumblr. It’s beautiful, but I don’t believe the dark side should be swept under the rug.

    • Templar

      Jeezus! Now the cable stations are going to be running The Red Shoes ad nauseum. Crap!

    • jeffeastwood15

      LOL @ “the a-hole that is Kanye West”

  • Heather

    All this ballet talk and no mention of The Red Shoes? For shame! You can’t get darker than (SPOILER ALERT):
    lead ballerina committing suicide by train!

    • melissa

      I was just about to point out the same thing. The author needs to look past movies that have come out during her own lifetime. As far as I am concerned, The Red Shoes is the definitive ballet movie. Perhaps before discussing dance in movies, a little research should be done beyond one’s own brain cells. As for the Twilight comparison, nothing but pandering to the public, hoping to use something trendy to get one’s article read.

  • Mr. Holloway

    Ok, I promise I’m not a Twi-hater, but we both know you could’ve written this piece WITHOUT linking it to “Twilight.” (That was the epitomy of a STRRREEEETTTTCCCH.)

    Either way, can’t wait to check out “Black Swan” this weekend. I’m confident Aronofsky will bring that world to life the same way he did with wrestling in “The Wrestler.”

    • tracy bluth

      100% agree with everything you said.

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      As a Twifan I agree too

    • MCS

      Agree. The article could have been written well about the newfound popularity of ballet without including Twilight, but am I surprised? This is and (shock) it was Kate Ward who wrote it.

      • nodnarb

        No, you’re thinking of Mandi Bierly who is Twi-obsessed. Kate Ward is consistently funny. And really, anyone who quotes Clueless and calls Kanye an a-hole within 3 sentences is ok in my book.

      • MCS

        My bad.

      • Mr. Holloway

        nodnarb doesn’t care about black swans!

    • LOL

      Ballet and opera are for snobs. Boring, pretentious crap.

      • mari

        That is where you are wrong. In some countries prima ballerinas and opera singers are treated like pop stars.

      • Princess Leia

        Its called art you douche. Or do you think of art as only scribbles on your paper.
        Art forms:
        even some sports/synchronized swimming, gymnastics, Karate, Yoga….
        so many forms of art.

    • chocolateislove

      I agree. Twilight has nothing to do with this. As a ballerina myself, I’m kind of offended.

  • tracy bluth

    As someone who will always regret quitting ballet in 5th grade “Black Swan” has made me want to take a ballet class or something. Which I’m sure was not the point it was trying to get across…at all.

  • m1

    Stop comparing everything to Twilight! Goodness!!!

    • steph

      it’s like the people who compare everything to Lost…annoyyyying!

  • annamorphos

    Watching Black Swan brought back so many fond memories. I danced when I was younger but was sidelined by an injury. blah! I recommend ballet to anyone and everyone! It teaches disclipline and its a great workout!

  • Dede

    This might be the dumbest article I have ever read.

    • JRZGRL1

      You haven’t read enough articles.

  • Dave

    I’m confused. Why exactly is Twilight being brought up?

    • Mr. Holloway

      Exactly my point.

      I mean, any article that reveals that Jackie Earle Haley is going to be playing a sadistic, Russian ballet teacher in the near future is interesting enough in its own right.

  • A

    Let’s refrain from calling anything “the new Twilight” unless it is a franchise or trend that completely sucks yet becomes very popular because people have bad taste.

    • Cat


    • MCS

      So then by that definition Glee is the new Twilight? I’m cool with that.

    • Princess Leia

      I…love you. I mean HEAR HEAR!

  • JJ

    Wow, what a stupid article.

  • Prunella Von Schleidlhaagen

    Don’t forget Suspiria takes place in a ballet school.

  • elena

    Wait, can we talk about how Kristen Bell is now playing a MOM? She’s like…not old enough to play a mom. She’ll forever be the teenage VMars sleuth until she dies (or turns super-old). But a MOM? Seriously?!

    • Luddite

      Thank you! I got stuck on that as well.

    • Dave

      Technically, Kristen Bell is old enough to be a mom. She’s 30 years old. And the actress who will play her daughter is about 10 or 11. So it’s certainly not an unrealistic situation, a 19 year old girl having a baby.

    • gah

      ack! thank you – i was gonna write the same thing. I guess Logan knocker her up.

  • Dan

    Why mention Twicrap in a post about Ballet but no word about a real ballerina like SUMMER GLAU? ;-)

  • Liza

    Can’t wait to see Black Swan. And as someone who still owns every pair of pointe shoes she’s ever danced in, I “like my ballet” to not be compared to Twilight. I’m not a Twilight hater, but let’s be serious here…

  • val

    But I don’t want to go to college; I want to dance!

    • Meghan

      Yeah, well, so do a lot of people.

      • Katja

        JESUS, what, you went to a special bitch academy or something?

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