Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of College Student Development 55:8 (November 2014), pp 757-778.

doi 10.1353/csd.2014.0084


Published by Johns Hopkins University Press.Used by permission.


Although previous research has investigated men in feminized sports, we took a different approach in this study and examined men in ballet. Because ballet is one of the most highly gender-codified sports, male ballet dancers must negotiate their identities as men while performing a dance form that is highly stigmatized as effeminate. We investigated how five self-identified heterosexual male college dance majors perceive and perform heteromasculinity within male ballet culture using qualitative data gathered from structured interviews. Results provide three unique contributions to the literature. First, we found that these men develop and contextualize their heteromasculinity in the context of a male ballet culture. Second, the results demonstrate three unique stigma-management techniques within male ballet culture. Third, men described a hegemonic heteromasculinity and the roles of masculinity and emotionality in male ballet performance as parts of male ballet culture. We hope this study will stimulate future research that can help personnel and faculty to better understand how college ballet programs can be informed by the ways masculinity may be institutionalized and reproduced within the context of dance programs, as well as the ways male ballet dancers can challenge heteromasculine hegemony in the sports world.