People become famous for all kinds of things. There are those who are famous for nothing, like some reality stars who will remain nameless, there are people who are famous for sports, some are known for acting and others for singing or dancing. What is most interesting about these types of people is that odds are, even though they are popular for one art form odds are they have another talent up their sleeve.
With this in mind we started wondering what male celebrities are dancers of ballet. We wondered who because it is a common fact that some athletes have learned to help their game, be it football or something else. Still, it seems there is this outdated stigma that men shouldn’t dance, especially ballet. This is the basis of the ballet movie Billy Elliot.
Being folks who don’t like senseless stigmas who just happen to LOVE the ballet and men that can perform it we decided to compile a list of famous men, some of them tougher than you, who have studied and/or performed ballet. Our goal? To convince other boys or men out there to follow their passion no matter what anyone else says.
With all of that said let’s begin this recent list of favorite male celebrities who have also dabbled in ballet.
1 – Rio Ferdinand
This former professional English football player (soccer to Americans) studied ballet as a child. According to his ballet instructor he was quite good. A former child dance partner swears in one article in the Guardian that she has video of this “somewhere.” Still, football, as the rest of the world plays it, would prove to be the childhood hobby that caught Rio’s attention when playing with several youth teams. He remained at West Ham United where he excelled quickly as a center-back. His Premier League debut was in 1996 winning the ‘Hammer of the Year award’ that same years. His long career and exceptional talents have enabled him to play in eighty-one games for England’s national football team. He is also a member of three FIFA World Cup teams. We wonder if his exceptional pirouettes had anything to do with his success?
2 – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Hailing from Germany Arnold Schwarzenegger, or “The Arnauld” as he has come to be known is the epitome of the American Dream. He first obtained stardom as a body builder and quickly moved his was to acting. There he made classics such as Terminator and all the sequels and prequels in that storyline, Twins opposite Danny DeVito, and True Lies with Jamie Leigh Curtis. Then he decided politics would be his game, he married a Kennedy and became the Governor of California, one of the largest states in the Union.
Who knew that the twenty-year-old who would win the title Mr. Universe was taking ballet. Turns out, Arnold took a class hoping the art form would help him while posing in competitions. His smart move paid off and this is proven in the seven Mr. Olympia titles he would earn as well. Funny thing is, we don’t think anyone would have the guts to make fun of Arnold for dancing ballet. Especially a twenty-year old Arnold.
2 – Christian Bale
Notorious ill-tempered Christian Bale is the next celebrity to don our list of ballet dancers today. In fact, his reputation has us wondering if it is such a good idea to put him on this list but then we figured we are never going to meet him so if he gets angry so be it.
That said, this famous actor who is of English decent is rumored to have taken ballet classes as a child. According to research he was even offered an opening at the Royal Ballet School. Lucky for us, this actor knew his calling right away and was given his first major movie role in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 movie Empire of the Sun. His performance in American Psycho (2000) earned this ballet dancer critical commendation. Since then Christian Bale was awarded the Best Supporting Actor category in the Academy Awards. This was his first of two Oscars. From what we can gather by how hard he is said to work on his roles, we have no doubt if he had chosen ballet as a profession his star would’ve shined equally as bright.
3 – Jamie Bell
This is the kid in Billy Elliot. Do you remember watching his dance along the rooftops of his small Irish community or how his adorable smile and charm won your heart in the movie centered around a blue collar boy who has a natural talent for the ballet?
Jamie Bell grew up in Billingham, Teesside, England. Ironically his start toward ballet is somewhat like the story of Billy Elliot. Bell went with his older sister to her ballet classes. When his talent was recognized he attended Stagecoach Theatre Arts and became a member of the National Youth Music Series. Bell was picked out of two thousand applicants for the lead role in the blockbuster hit about the boy and ballet.
Since then Bell has gone on to obtain roles in movies like King Kong (2005), Jumper (2008), and The Adventures of Tintin (2011). He is married to actress Evan Rachel Wood.
4 – Tupac Shakur
One of the most notorious faces in hip-hop was a ballet dancer. Tupac Shakur was born in New York City in 1971. After his death by gunshot in Las Vegas in 1996 Tupac has become a name of legend as great as the King of Rock and Roll himself. Yep, Tupac is the Elvis of hip-hop, when comparing the fact that some believe their deaths were faked and they both are still alive somewhere.
Raised the son of black-panther member Afeni Shakur, Tupac didn’t get to know his father until he was an adult and his mother was in jail while pregnant with him due to bombing charges. His frequent moves around New York with his mom and her political standings were the backdrop of Tupac’s childhood. So was his mother’s struggle with substance abuse.
Still, like most success stories, Tupac didn’t let it get him down. He pursued his dream of performing and became a student of the Baltimore School for the Arts. This is where he threw himself into any class he could to learn. One of those classes happened to be ballet, as he confirms in the video below.
Even after death we dare anyone to tease Tupac for taking ballet. He’s the only member of this group who’s as threatening after death as he was when alive.
5 – Jean Claude Van Damme
Born in Brussels, Belgium on October 18, 1960, Jean Claude Van Damme began his decent into martial arts fame when he was ten years old. He earned his black belt at eighteen and moved on to body building leading to the Mr. Belgium title.
Van Damme moved to the United States with every intention of becoming an action star. It wasn’t long before he was getting extra work in movies like Breakin’ and non-speaking parts as a President Roosevelt carrying secret service agent in War and Remembrance in 1988. From there it wasn’t long before he was given parts as villains and then ultimately the role that launched his stardom Bloodsport.
Still, Van Damme cherishes his time studying the ballet and has great respect for the art. He has been quoted saying ballet is “also one of the most difficult sports.” He went on to say, “if you can survive a ballet workout, you can survive in a workout in any other sport.”
6 – Ron Reagan
No, not the president, his youngest son Ron Reagan at one time pursued a career in the world of professional ballet dancing. According to research, he was accepted to Yale University and, much to Ron and Nancy’s dismay, Ron Jr. barely finished out the year before dropping out to join the Joffrey Ballet. This wouldn’t be the first time the young Reagan made choices his parents wouldn’t approve of and it wouldn’t be his last. His declaration to his parents as an atheist was one of his earliest rebellions. Ron’s action was refusing to go to church. He stuck with his beliefs and is outspoken about his atheist views today.
It is also said that although he was talented his parents didn’t attend any performances. That is until 1981. It is also said that his father, The President, wrote in a White House Journal that his son “danced like Fred Astaire.”
Although his ballet career was short lived Ron Reagan Jr. became a success but in the political arena. He spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is known to be an outspoken radio show host. Ron Reagan was known to call out his own father’s party on what he believed and he is one of the few children of presidents that made such a switch from the family party.
He is still looked to today when political races are in place. Ron Reagan supported John Kerry in 2004 and endorsed President Barack Obama in his 2008 election campaign.
Although Ron Reagan Jr. opposed many of his parents’ ideologies he had the utmost respect for them, especially his father, probably one of the most popular Presidents of our time. He showed this in his 2011 book My Father at 100; A Memoir, which touches on The President’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
By the way, here are some great ballet pieces you can stream today, from around the world!