Cannot Be Unseen?


Couple times a week I work out so my arms and legs are huge but my muscles look flabby when I’m outside the gym, especially the arm flesh that flaps around, super embarrassing. And OMG the cost of the fitness center membership, fashion-forward athletic gear, protein powder, energy drinks, vitamins, special towels, special shower gel, special ointment and special painkillers because my back hurts, and this expensive body fat scale I still haven’t figured out how to use. All that really adds up. So how do I get better results for the money? What about a flat ass? Are butt supplements a thing? – Bummed Out

Dear Bummed,

Muscles grow when stimulated, but yours have no real task to perform beyond what the gym equipment demands. Unlike the physique of an athlete or a dancer, whose musculature is exquisitely trained for movement, yours is simply dead weight. You bulked up, and your body dumbed down. Back ache? Forget the ointments and fix your posture instead. (Sorry to hear about your derriere.)



I always wanted one of those ballet outfits, they’re called tutus. I wasn’t allowed lessons when I was young, and now you’re probably going to say: adult ballet classes. No, they’re way too hard and it’s not like I want to learn anything I only want the costume. A while ago someone lends me one of those tutu skirts and this guy I know takes cool pics of me being a ballerina and I post a video to Insta. Brilliant! And it should of (sic) got way more likes but okay, I don’t have many followers. Now I find out the video is being passed around and all these strangers are making fun of me. What’s a TikTok remix and why is everyone laughing at me? – Rosella Lowtower

Sorry Rosella,

I’ve seen the screen captures—who hasn’t?—and every person at the watch party said they felt sorry, or at least embarrassed for you. Well, it didn’t stop them from making the remixes. You can google “TikTok features” if you don’t know what that is, and look up Fremdschämen and Schadenfreunde while you’re at it. Perhaps you intended your “performance” to be humorous in some way, but the claw-like hands and terrifying grin are nowhere near anything that could be mistaken for parody or comedy—disciplines which, like ballet, require actual proficiency and talent.


For everyone with a true appreciation of the genre, please revisit the ne plus ultra of dance parodies by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: The World’s Foremost All-Male Comic Ballet Company, whose members have taken art and laughter seriously since 1974. Also, learn more about the world of dance by reading some, or all, of these excellent books:

Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet by Robert Greskovic

Body of a Dancer by Renée E. D’Aoust

Fierce and Delicate: Essays on Dance and Illness by Renée K. Nicholson

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland and Charisse Jones

Making Ballet American: Modernism Before and Beyond Balanchine by Andrea Harris

Martha Hill: The Making of American Dance by Janet Mansfield Soares

Reading Dance by Robert Gottlieb

Winter Season by Tony Bentley

Genia Blum is a Swiss Ukrainian Canadian writer, translator, and dancer. Her work has been anthologized, published widely in literary journals, and received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. “Slaves of Dance,” based on excerpts from her memoir in progress, was named a “Notable Essay” in The Best American Essays 2019. Find @geniablum on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website: geniablum.com

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