(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Dec. 22, 2002.)
I am not a fan of ballet.
Now, before you members of the Dance Community get your leotards in a bunch, let me stress that I KNOW I AM WRONG. I know that ballet is a beautiful artistic form that requires great dedication and skill. I'm just saying that I, personally, would rather watch a dog catch a Frisbee.
My problem -- and it's MY problem, NOT ballet's problem -- is that, because I am culturally unsophisticated, all ballet looks to me like -- even though I know there is MUCH more to it -- a troupe of mincing mimes. Whatever the ballet plot is about -- love, hate, joy, sorrow, the Russian Revolution, measles -- the reaction of the dancers is: ''It's MINCING time!''
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Granted, it is an extremely high caliber of mincing, coupled with some impressive prancing. A non-graceful, out-of-shape layperson like myself could not in a million years prance like that. If I, in my current weight class, were to attempt to launch myself into the air and land on my tippytoes, I would have to be minced off the stage by ballet paramedics.
So I admire the skill involved. It's just that, after I have watched dancers mince around for, say, eight minutes, I have had my ballet quota for that particular decade.
The only time I truly enjoyed ballet was years ago, when I attended a performance at a display garden where the stage wings were formed by thick, high hedges. At one point -- I estimate it was 14 hours into the performance -- a male dancer and a female dancer were onstage doing the Mince of Passion, and the male did what a man must do in BalletLand to show a woman that he truly loves her; namely, hoist her over his head.
He then attempted to prance offstage with her, but her tutu apparently obscured his vision, and he pranced her, headfirst, smack into the shrubbery. She went in as far as her shoulders. The male had to yank her out, back up, re-aim, and prance off, trying to maintain an expression of passion, though you could tell from the female's face that the affair was OVER. I wanted to shout: ``Encore!''
I know that, because of this column, I will receive many angry (yet fragrant) letters from ballet lovers. As a veteran columnist, I even know what these letters will say.
''Dear Berry,'' they will say. ``As a member of the Dance Community, I am appalled by the ignorance of your ignorant column, which only reveals how ignorant you are, you ignoramus. For you to so ignorantly ignore the beauty of ballet, not to mention making light of the potentially career-ending tragedy of a shrub-related injury, only underscores the ignorance of your ignorant ...''
And so on. Well, guess what, ballet lovers? You don't have to write! I am already being punished, severely, for not liking ballet. My daughter has decided, at age 2- ½, that all she wants is to be a ballerina. She has a tutu, which she wears with everything, including her pajamas. She likes to mince and twirl, and she expects her mother and me to mince and twirl with her, with our hands over our heads, ballet-style. We do this a LOT. ''Pirouette `Til You Puke,'' that is our motto.
We took Sophie to see a real ballet, and she loved it so much that she had to get up and twirl in the aisle. I even enjoyed some of it, although not the costumes worn by the male dancers, which left nothing to the imagination, if you know what I mean, and if you don't, what I mean is they looked like they were smuggling dead squirrels in their tights. I don't want my daughter seeing that! Do these guys spend so much on eyeliner that they can't afford a pair of shorts?
After the performance, the dancers went to the lobby to meet the audience, thrilling Sophie, who got some of them to sign her program. She now believes this is an integral part of ballet. At home, after we twirl for a while, she announces that she is going to the ''lobby,'' which is my closet, and she waits there, in her tutu, until we bring her a pen and a paper to ``sign.''
So this is how I am being punished for not liking ballet: I spend my days twirling and mincing, then standing in a closet, getting an autograph from somebody who can't write. Ballet lessons loom ahead. I am now facing years of ballet-watching, and I frankly don't know how I'm going to get through it.
Because these tights really itch.
(c) 2008, Dave Barry