I made a mistake. I decided to comment negatively on one of Bloch’s recent Instagram posts. Why? Because I did not like the leotards they had designed. (Dear Bloch: I LOVE a LOT of your designs, have 2 of your rehearsal tutus, a pair of Bloch booties, and so many more items from your store – please forgive me for disliking your recent line of leos!)
Why didn’t I like them?
Because. Because of the same reason I didn’t like these styles of leotards as a child – even then, I could see that the frenetic patterns, weird cutouts and/or layering of extra fabric, and various ways of cutting the sleeves and neckline to make the piece more appealing to the buyer actually made the leotard LESS FLATTERING to the dancer’s line. I couldn’t understand why on earth a dancer would willingly wear those leotards when they make your arms look shorter, your legs look wider at the worst possible spot where the elastic cuts into your leg, and where the cutouts only accentuate imperfections?? [side note: another dancer on IG commented that she liked how the vertical cut-out hearts down the back of one of the leos helped her see that her back was straight – interesting perspective]
I grew up watching old dance films with my parents like “All That Jazz,” “A Chorus Line,” and “The Turning Point.” In all these films, I watched dancers in high-cut leotards with clean, simple lines. They didn’t need a heart-shaped neckline or a bunch of crisscross straps across their backs. Furthermore, I think the kinds of “trendy” leotards coming out today create a type of “vicious cycle” (I know, the word “vicious” is a bit overdramatic in this context, but I’m using it anyway). The more dancers wear these unattractive styles, the more they seem to feel like they can hide behind the leotard (which they can’t). The more they hide, the less they focus on developing their physical line and musculature to create the ballet aesthetic. Which in turn means they’ll want to wear those leotards in the attempt to further mask what they don’t like. And those leos won’t succeed. (Does that make sense?)
But this is all beside the point. My mistake was in commenting on the post.
someone replied to my comment. I know, I know, god forbid anyone reply! I actually welcome and enjoy discussions on social media. Intelligent discussions. Not the kind where everyone agrees, but the kind where people converse from a place of a true desire to learn. The person who replied did not appear to have this desire. They asked me if I could imagine what it would be like to be pre-professional and/or professional dancer who had to dance every day, and therefore would want to have a variety of leos such as these. I almost laughed when I saw the reply. They hooked me. Why? Because obviously this person did not know anything about my history as a dancer. A pre-professional AND professional dancer who spent most of her LIFE in a studio. That’s right, cue the violins, roll out the red carpet, and all hail the snobby ego of “do you know who I AM?!” that, despite my efforts to curb, cajole, and control, will not be stifled. So,
I can’t BELIEVE I let that happen. I checked the person’s IG account – less than 100 followers and virtually no photos about dance. They just happen to love dance, as they purported in their profile description. I guess it miffed me that they didn’t take the time to look me up before replying. Or at least, do some more research on what real professional dancers wear. Do you really think Dusty Button wears those leotards every day? If so, my hat is off to her. However, I have never been a big fan of Dusty. She is totally badass and extremely talented. She’d out-pirouette and tilt-split me from here to Timbuktu. She’s just not one of my personal faves. I’m more of a Svetlana Zakharova/Evgenia Obraztsova/Maya Plisetskaya fan. Basically Russians. I do also love the French dancers and there are a few Americans I really enjoy(Gelsey Kirkland, anyone? No? Okay, how about Sylvie…oh yeah. She’s French), but most of them are from before 1990.
Still: who CARES? Who cares what this person on Instagram posted? Who cares what I posted?! And why did I need to react? Because, in that moment, I felt like I was not enough. For just a second, I let fear get a foot in the door. The fear that I was not worthy of commenting. So what if I’d danced all my life, so what if I got scholarships wherever I went and danced in various professional companies. I’m not on the cover of Dance Magazine, I’m not the principal in some big ballet company, so I’m not worthy. If I were, this person would have recognized me. Hell, I probably would have been the dancer in the photo, right? RIGHT?!
NO: I have to admit, I will not do a promo for something in which I do not believe. I say this, of course, without a second mortgage to worry about. And, maybe the dancers who model those leotards DO believe in what they are promoting. I still think it’s worth telling Bloch what I think of their leotards. I may not be their target audience, but I still wish to share my opinion. Which reminds me: Bloch never replied. Smart move.
So: Why, Bloch, Why?