A ballerina performing. File
Sadistic teachers and murderous levels of competition: from "Black Swan" to "Tiny Pretty Things" the world of ballet seems a place fit only for psychopaths if its screen incarnations are to be believed.
Real-world dancers in France take some exception to this, however.
"Yes, I've seen boys and girls take anti-inflammatories to dance and push the pain to the limit, but that isn't our daily lives," said Allister Madin, a dancer at the Paris Opera.
"And yes, there's competition because it's hard to get signed by a company, but we aren't killing each other. Peddling these cliches tarnishes the reputation of dance."
He said he couldn't make it past the first episode of Netflix hit "Tiny Pretty Things", whose wannabe ballet stars are forever on the point of a nervous breakdown, facing eating disorders, brutal rivalries and ultimately even murder.
"It's like there's a checklist whenever someone makes a film or series about ballet," said Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau, who teaches American literature and dance studies at Clermont-Auvergne University in central France.
"There's always the physical suffering, with an obligatory close-up of toenails coming off. There's the fascination with the masochistic relationship between teachers and pupils, or an ultra-pushy mother."
Oscar-winner "Black Swan", US series "Flesh and Bone" and even kids favourite "Ballerina" have all recycled these tropes -- which Chevrier-Bosseau traces back to depictions in 19th century art and literature, such as the Edgar Degas paintings of "les petits rats de l'Opera".
"The ballerina is always either depraved or sexually repressed and does not think of anything else," said Chevrier-Bosseau.
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