Tag Archives: adult ballet dancers

10 ways to spot a bunhead

Bunhead (noun): an extremely dedicated female ballet student or professional. Derives from “bun” (a tight roll of hair in the shape of a cinnamon bun, on the back of the head) and “head” (that thing humans tend to have on top of the rest of their body).


It’s summertime, which means the jackets are off, skimpy clothing is in, which makes it the ideal season for spotting bunheads.

Bunheads come in all sizes and shapes. Ages, too. In their juvenile form, a bunhead is easy to spot. The bun, for starters. The gangly limbs and thin frame, the earnest expression, the leotard, the preference for staying in a pack (young bunheads are very conformist). They can be found either en route to the ballet studio, or returning from it, or anywhere lost in thought, dreaming of what happened, or will happen, at aforementioned studio.

Bunheads don’t die off young, as one might be led to believe, given the dramatic drop in bunhead sightings past age sixteen, and further reduction after age 25. It is simply that older bunheads opt for camouflage and/or cease to venerate conformist attire and behavior. Thus disguised, they retain their private identity as they move into adulthood, through middle age, and even beyond. Yes. A sixty-year old woman can be a bunhead, no matter what she wears or what her hair looks like.

The adult bunhead can still be spotted by the discerning observer. Below are ways and places in which such an encounter might occur.

10 Ways to Spot a Bunhead

  1. In yoga class: she’s the one lifting her hip in Warrior 3 position, and balancing in Tree Pose with a turned-out foot, instead of the preferred yogic parallel position. Attempts by teacher to remedy position will not last, as the bunhead body rapidly returns to what is ingrained.
  2. At a public swimming pool: you’ll see her practicing her développé a la seconde in five feet of water, grinning because her extension is so high and effortless. Will also perform grand jeté leaps underwater while arm remain still and pretty.
  3. In the post office line: she’s the one who waits by standing in fourth position. Or fifth. Or, if the line is super slow, watch closely and you will spot her doing a furtive tendu to the front, to the side. Maybe even a little relevé. In extremely long waits, a shift to one foot, with the other foot tucked in a neat coupé or sur le cou de pied.
  4. In long hallways (think empty corridors, the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, shopping mall), you can spot the urge in them to take off running into a tombe, pas de bourré, glissade, and big-assed leap. On very rare occasions, the adult bunhead will lose inhibition and go for it. Such inhibition usually requires considerable consumption of alcoholic beverage beforehand.
  5. In the wild, during an unexpected downpour in a rain-deprived region, where the adult bunhead might lack the inhibition of the previous situation. Sightings are less rare, but still relatively uncommon.

Below is rare footage of an adult bunhead spotted in the wild:

6.  On the beach, under the shade of an umbrella, where beach bag includes water, nutty snacks, 70 SPF sunscreen (bunheads rarely seek out a tan—their species prefers to remain pale and unblemished) and one or more of the following paperbacks: Astonish Me, Bunheads, Off Balance, (PS: this one is FREE this week!) Girl Through Glass, Misty Copeland’s Life in Motion.

7.  At the grocery store, where her cart will include yogurt cups, bottled water, Diet Coke, plus over a dozen Luna or Kind bars, or one of the dozens of healthy-but-not-totally bars out there.

8.  In restaurants, where they sit very tall, erect, like a princess at a state dinner, and try, not always successfully, to avoid the carbs and scarf down the protein. Gives self brownie points for eating all her vegetables. (Literal “brownie” points.)

9.  At the pharmacy/drugstore, her purchase will include bobby pins, black ponytail holders, Band-Aids, hairspray and corn pads.

10. Her phone has a classical music ringtone that, invariably, is Tchaikovsky and, equally invariably, is an excerpt from Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty or The Nutcracker.

Have you spotted a bunhead this season? Got any dead-giveaway tips to add? We’d love to hear about it, and encourage you to share your stories of sightings of bunheads in the wild. Send me a photo and I’ll add it to this post. In the meantime, here are two sensational photos from photographer extraordinaire, Jordan Matter, taken from his book, Dancers Among Us. Check it out; the photos are sublime. You can visit his website HERE.

photographer Jordan Matter

photographer Jordan Matter

Ballerina Dreams


The other night I had a ballet dream. Not a dancing onstage kind, or one of those scary ones where you hear your cue but you’re trapped in your dressing room, two floors down, panicking that you’re blowing it. No, in this dream I was an audience member, not a dancer. I’d been allowed access backstage. Two professional ballet dancers had just invited me to join them post-performance. The good fortune of it produced a shivery thrill, the kind you feel as a teen, sighting a movie star or your biggest crush.

In that way dreams have of transporting you instantly, next we were in one of the dancer’s apartment, and I’d put together a sumptuous dinner for them. There were, perhaps four or five of us there. Through the room, from time to time, came other dancers, their curious glances directed my way, an unspoken who is this? but I was accepted because I’d been invited by One of Them. How good it felt to be accepted here, by these exotic creatures, professional ballet dancers. And yet after the meal, I was still hungry, not for food but for discourse, yearning to ask more questions, get deeper inside their skin, their experience. It reminds me of when I was younger, still performing and I’d ask my mom eagerly, “what did you think of it?” She’d say, “honey, it was very nice,” and oh, how dissatisfying that was. I longed for so much more detail. How did it feel, inside her, watching me? How did she really see my dancing? Oh, the narcissist’s unquenchable thirst for more description of how they are perceived, how they are admired.

And yet, in this case, it was the opposite of narcissism. Call it the magnet of celebrity, or perhaps the writer in me, relentless in my hunger to delve deeper into the psyche of someone so different from me. Whatever it was, I wanted more. I was desperate to get ever closer to this divine creature, the professional ballet dancer, she who had found and touched The Holy Grail of ballet.

But before I could strike up further conversation, Beautiful Ballerina woman (suddenly there was just the one, but the queen of them) rose, all grace and loveliness, and announced that the food had been wonderful, delicious, thank you, but she was going to go relax now. I smiled back, equally gracious, joking “sounds like my cue to leave,” and was crestfallen when she nodded.

But of course. I was just another fan. This meet-up may have been the pinnacle of my evening, my year, but the feelings were not mutual. Far from it.

She wafted off to her room, leaving me and the other admirer to see ourselves out. Illogically, I decided to first clean up her kitchen. (And for the record? I hate to clean the kitchen. Hate it.) But as I cleaned, I held no grudge. I remained loyal, because I so revere the art, the craft of ballet, and want to do my bit to support it.

How interesting to ponder the dream now, in the light of day and clear logic. Is it ballet itself that I am striving to serve? Am I a lesser creature, merely an adoring groupie? Can’t say I like the thought. I liked being the performer too much to take the eternal back seat now.

And yet, when I consider it closer, I find that “adoring groupie” doesn’t describe it. It’s not a passive position, at all. Yes, I am serving ballet and its professional dancers. The prima ballerinas I write blogs about. The art itself. My art as a writer. My self-professed obligation to the public to take the dance world and write about it in an accessible, lively manner, getting people to read about dance. It’s not a place of subservience at all. I think the world needs this. It needs me in this capacity far more than it ever needed me as a ballet dancer.

But back to the dream. In the last bit, I was dishing the leftover into a container to put in the refrigerator. And I thought, wait, why don’t I take this yummy leftover home for me? I’d bought the ingredients, done all the work, served and cleaned up. A no-brainer. Except that I knew Beautiful Ballerina would enjoy it, and the poor thing wasn’t that much of a cook, that was clear. She needed me. She might never see it that way. But without my support, the nourishing things I’ve given—and you multiply my efforts by a thousand, all those other supporters of the dance world—she would languish. Waste away. Expire.

Subservience, hell no. The ballet world, the performing arts in general, need us. They need audience members to buy for tickets. Patrons who offer donations and grants. They need bloggers and dance reviewers to spread the word.

And so, in my dream, I left the food behind. Left it for her. I’ve learned, after all, how and where to find plenty more.

© 2013 Terez Rose


Want to read more of my writing? OFF BALANCE, Book 1 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles is now out in stores! http://www.amazon.com/Balance-Ballet-Theatre-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B00WB224IQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429554592&sr=1-1&keywords=off+balance+Terez