From a New York Times article on a festival of Javanese dance (LRR):
A troupe of male dancers from the village of Mendut entered the makeshift stage with headdresses of long white feathers. Instead of the normally bare feet of Indonesian dancers, they wore knee-length soft boots adorned with feathers.
Their faces were smothered in makeup — gashes of red around the cheeks, plenty of black above the brows. Drums and flutes kept up a fierce, relentless beat for repetitive steps that were only a little more complicated than stomping on the earth.
"People here like to imitate," said Sutanto, a jazz musician from Mendut who helped organize the festival, and who, like many Indonesians, uses only one name. "This is the pure influence of American cowboy films of the 1950's," he added. "Some people say the way the dance is performed comes from the Dayaks," he said, referring to an Indonesian tribe in Kalimantan. "It's not. It comes directly from television."
As the only guy in either of my dance classes, I found this note interesting:
Male dancers were dominant in all the pieces at the festival, with women performing in cameo roles or in the equivalent of a corps de ballet. ...
The prominence of male dancers in the village derives from the historical importance of warriors in Java, said Sardono Kusumo, Indonesia's best-known choreographer. "Many of these dances are influenced by the wars in the colonial period," he said. "Some of them relate to the story of Diponegoro, who camped out in the mountains." Diponegoro, a 19th-century hero, was the first member of the Javanese royal court to take up arms against the Dutch. He organized a guerrilla force among peasants and was eventually captured in nearby Magelang.
Compare that with the problem discussed in this thread at the Ballet Alert message board.
The Javanese "cowboy dudes" vis-a-vis ballet is interesting. That thread at the Ballet site was good.
When men I know actually sit for a minute and WATCH a danseur, they're pretty impressed with the musculature, athleticism, etc.
But they'd rather die than be SEEN sitting and watching ballet--nobody wants to be branded a "girlie-man."
VERY MUCH the same with figure skating! Who can deny the stamina and athleticism, especially nowadays? But it's 99% women who love to watch it--in recent years, men have made a cottage industry out of WHINING about having to sit through figure skating with their wives (or other females from whom they can't escape for the evening)!
My dance studio is in a rural area of TN. I knew male students would be few and far between. I usually have one each year. One boy started in both ballet and highland, but dropped the ballet because it was for girls. However, he had no problem wearing a kilt.
When my sons were young teenagers they took a movement for athletes class taught by a friend of mine, a large, muscular former Alvin Ailey dancer. It was a ballet class in shorts and running shoes. They and my husband loved it, but only because it would enhance their ahtletic endeavors. None of them would have considered taking a ballet class otherwise.
For the record, my family can sit through dance programs and actually make intelligent comments. I still have to have a pocket full of candy for my husband to get him through longer shows.