Greta Gerwig on the Cultish Tendencies of Ballet Class


When future humans look back at the era of gender normative child-rearing, when parents watched their girls stumble around a dance studio and watched their boys try to decapitate a tee-ball stand, they’ll probably draw misguided conclusions, conclusions distorted by a preponderance of archived Dance Moms clips. “Wow, this Abby Lee Miller must have been president of the world. How else can one account for the Dance Moms’ utter deference to her?” If you think of history, especially ancient history, as merely the study of records that weren’t smashed or eaten by shortsighted people of the past, then Thucydides was basically just a reality-show cameraman and Alcibiades a mercurial dance instructor.

Greta Gerwig’s mom, as it turns out, was way ahead of the history’s final judgment on the charismatic power dance teachers have over their female students. Gerwig, the living, breathing indie-movie Aimless Young Woman archetype, told the Guardian during a recent interview that her mom wouldn’t let her do ballet nearly as much as she wanted, fearing that ballet class was far too “cultish.’

Explained Gerwig:

I was an intense child. When I loved an activity, I had trouble doing it halfway. It was scary with ballet – I would have gone to class for four hours a day, seven days a week, if I could have. And it’s kind of a cultish world. Relationships between ballet teachers and students aren’t always totally normal, and my teacher – she was British and had been to the Royal Ballet School – gave everybody ‘ballet names’, which put my mum over the edge: ‘She gave you another name?!’
…My ballet name was supposed to be Scarlett, and my mum was like, ‘No, she can call you by your given name, this is a cult.’ She freaked out. But when you’re 12 or 13, you don’t know what’s unhealthy.

True story: Greta Gerwig used to be in a ballet cult whose leader tried to rename her. Kids are so gullible.


Image via AP, Markus Schreiber

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