When we think of action heroes the last thing that comes to mind is a dance genre involving tutus and en pointe shoes. Yet ballet requires a ton of strength and balance so it’s no wonder that even some tough guys have decided to learn the art to better themselves physically. Some admit to it, others might not. Either way, we love ballet and have great respect for anyone that attempts to learn.
Here are six tough hombres that we suspect once danced.
1. 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.”
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. 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.
4. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Hailing from Germany Arnold Schwarzenegger exemplifies 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.
5. 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?
6. Steve McLendon
Nose tackle currently playing with the New York Jets, Steve McLendon began learning the fine art of ballet when he was a senior in college. The original reason for taking the class because an instructor told him that it would help his football game and the results are that he still takes ballet when he can. One instructor McLendon had when he was playing for the Steelers said that he worked McLendon “harder than the majority of women” that he taught.
McLendon claims that the dance has helped him remain free from injury. He also says that he can tell the difference in strength he has in his ankles and feet. Ballet is the epitome of grace and beauty, and when a tough guy like an American football player takes it up to make him stronger, we can help but look at ballet in a completely new way.
Do you know which are the 7 ballet pieces everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime? Check them out here.