What Is A Male Ballerina Called?

A male ballet dancer is typically referred to as a male ballet dancer in English-speaking countries. However, in French, a male ballet dancer is called a “danseur,” while a female ballet dancer is called a “danseuse.”

In Italian, a male dancer who holds a principal title within a ballet company is known as a “ballerino.” The term “ballerino” is sometimes used informally in English-speaking countries as slang for a male ballet dancer, but it is not the standard term.

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In French, a male ballet dancer is referred to as a danseur and a female as a danseuse. In the English speaking world, boys or men who dance classical ballet are usually referred to as (male) ballet dancers. Often “ballerino” is used in English-based countries as slang.

Answered from Kevin Dahlberg

In French, a male ballet dancer is referred to as a danseur and a female as a danseuse. … A regular male dancer in Italy is called a ballerino. In the English speaking world, boys or men who dance classical ballet are usually referred to as (male) ballet dancers.

Answered from Brian P

In English a male ballet dancer is called a male ballet dancer. In French, a male ballet dancer is referred to as a danseur . In Italian, a male dancer who typically holds a principal title within a ballet company is called a ballerino.

Answered from Shyan 

What Is A Male Ballerina Called?

As a fan of ballet, I've always been curious about the terminology used to describe male ballet dancers. From taking ballet classes myself to attending professional productions, I've heard male dancers referred to in various ways. In this FAQ, I'll break down the common terms used for men in ballet and provide some historical context around how these terms originated.

What is the proper term for a male ballet dancer?

The most common and accepted term for a male ballet dancer is simply “male ballet dancer.” However, you may also hear terms like ballerino, danseur, or male dancer used.

Male ballet dancer is considered the standard gender-specific term for men who train and perform ballet professionally. It specifies their gender while conveying their expertise in ballet dance. This term is widely used in English-speaking countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

What does ballerino mean?

Ballerino is an Italian word that translates to “male ballet dancer” or “male dancer.” In Italy, ballerino is the proper term for men who dance ballet. The feminine version of the word is ballerina.

The term ballerino originated in the Italian courts during the Renaissance era when ballet first emerged as an art form. Italy played a key role in developing early ballet, so the Italian terminology remains influential. Outside of Italy, ballerino is sometimes used colloquially or jokingly to describe male dancers.

What is a danseur?

In French ballet terminology, a male ballet dancer is known as a danseur, while a female is a danseuse. Danseur translates to “dancer” in French.

Like ballerino, the term has its origins in the royal courts of Europe where ballet was nurtured and codified into an early art form. France was the epicenter of ballet's development in the 17th and 18th centuries. The French ballet vocabulary remains integral to how we talk about ballet today.

Why are male ballet dancers sometimes called male dancers?

Using male dancer rather than male ballet dancer is another common way to refer to men in ballet. This term conveys their gender clearly while keeping the reference to ballet more implicit.

Male dancer highlights that they are professionally trained in dance without specifying which genre. This can be useful when discussing ballet dancers who train in multiple dance disciplines like contemporary, jazz, or modern dance in addition to their primary ballet training.

Do male ballet dancers prefer being called male dancers?

Preferences vary among individual male ballet dancers regarding terminology. Some are perfectly happy being described as male ballet dancers, while others may opt for male dancer or another term entirely. There is an ongoing conversation around gender parity in ballet, which influences perspectives around terminology.

Some male dancers aim to elevate ballet as an athletic endeavor suitable for both men and women. Others wish to move away from rigid gender binaries or conventions in ballet tradition. There is no industry-wide consensus, so the best approach is to opt for more inclusive language whenever possible.

Why don't we call male dancers ballerinas?

Ballerina refers specifically to a female ballet dancer. Mixing ballet vocabulary across genders is uncommon. There are long-standing traditions surrounding ballet terminology that were established when ballet first emerged in the 15th-17th centuries.

During that era, ballet was predominantly defined by female dancers. Calling a male dancer a ballerina today would be highly unconventional and seem misgendering. However, some male dancers purposefully take on the ballerina title to challenge gender norms in ballet.

Do any major ballet companies use gender-neutral language?

A handful of professional ballet companies have actively moved towards more gender-neutral language in recent years. For example, in 2021 the Royal Ballet in London changed its policy to refer to dancers as “artists” rather than “men” or “women.”

However, the majority of major companies still reference dancers in gendered terms. There is ongoing debate around changing the gendered ballet lexicon, but widespread reform has not yet happened. Most male dancers continue to be described as male ballet dancers, danseurs, or ballerini.

How does ballet terminology differ across cultures?

While French and Italian terminology dominates Western ballet, other cultures have their own vocabulary for male dancers:

  • In Russia, male ballet dancers are called “tantsovshchik”
  • In China, they are “wudaojia” which translates to “dance master”
  • The Korean word is “mulleon”
  • In Indonesia, a male dancer is called “penari lelaki”

There are certainly many other examples across the global spectrum of dance. Ballet has expanded far beyond its European origins, bringing new linguistic diversity with it.

What if we just called them all dancers or artists?

Using broad, non-gendered language like dancer or artist is an increasingly popular stance in the ballet world. This viewpoint aligns with modern aims to make ballet more inclusive across gender identities.

However, the long history of gendered ballet terminology cannot be erased overnight. Traditionalists argue that the lexicon reflects ballet's core identity. Change will likely be gradual, though new gender-neutral options may catch on over time.


In summary, male ballet dancers are referred to by various established terms across languages and cultures. The options include male ballet dancer, danseur, ballerino, and male dancer. Opinions differ on whether gendered terminology should be updated to reflect contemporary values of inclusion. But for now, tradition dictates the vocabulary used to describe men who devote themselves to the art of ballet.

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