One of the best things about this whole trans journey is the fact that I discover amazing things along the way. In this case, I want to write about ballet buns for budding ballerinas (try saying that after a few beers, bourbons or Babychams) who just happen to be transgender.
Ballet class has been going OK of late – but it’s definitely getting harder as we throw in the new exercises (and ARMS!) – and I’m not helping myself by not practising at home.
That’s mainly because of work (although partly because I’m lazy) but the project I’m working on will be finished this time next week, so I’ll have more time to practise. DO IT THEN, IDIOT!
Anyway, class aside, I was thinking about hair. Yes, why concentrate on perfecting my progressive enchainement when I can Google ballet bun wigs?
Every week, I feel a little feminine as I leave the dressing room and enter the studio. Leotard? Check! Tights? Check! Cute little ballet slippers? Check! Skirt? Well, once.
And then I look at myself in the massive mirrors and see a bald 40-something bloke with curves in the wrong places. Hopefully HRT and my ongoing diet should sort out the curves to some degree.
But no amount of testosterone blockers or estrogen is going to bring back my once-long locks. Well, maybe a little, but not enough.
Sooooo, thinks I in the early hours of one morning last week, I’ll Google “ballet bun wigs”. Wouldn’t it marvellous to walk into the exam (which is now looking like being in April, by the way) feeling as feminine and ballerina-like as possible, with hair in a bun and maybe even a little makeup.
I’m going to be feeling nervous enough in front of the ballet examiner anyway – she’ll know I’m trans – so I might as well go the whole hog. Who knows, I might even be able to relax a little more?
Anyway, Googled ballet bun wigs. Found one ballet bun wig in the entire world – see photo. It’s rubbish. It’s very cheap and very nasty. But that’s the only one I could find. I kept searching and found a few more bun wigs – some for dressing up as a granny in fancy dress, some for dressing up as Anna from Frozen in fancy dress and some for dressing up as various “cosplay” Japanese characters… in fancy dress.
That said, there was a cool platinum bug wig I found – but it’s a similar colour to Miss Anna’s natural hair – and I didn’t want to out-Miss Anna Miss Anna (or Ann-Dog, gangstah name – she’s a tad less formal than Miss Joanne, bless her!)
I wanted a wig with that classical ballerina look – all the hair scraped back into a tight bun. No luck at all after hours of searching.
And then I came across an amazing lady called Maggie Kudirka, aka the Bald Ballerina. Maggie was just 23 when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer back in 2014.
Reading her blog, she’s had a bloody rough time of it – but her zest for life and determination to help other people in a similar situation really shine through.
Even writing about her double mastectomy, she writes only about the positives and that she’s glad her boobs will no longer get in the way of her dancing.
I found her blog because she’d lost her hair through chemotherapy and had written about going for a wig fitting.
Anyway, I wrote to her. I sent her a few Facebook messages, just saying hello, how I admired her outlook, wishing her all the best with her treatment and asking if she had any wig advice – while appreciating her need was far greater than mine.
She replied to say her cancer was stable and that she’d changed her diet. I won’t go into detail because it’s personal to her.
But wig-wise (I like that word!) she said this…
Hi Andie, I’m afraid I can’t be much help about the wig. I rarely wore a wig. When I went in for a wig fitting, I was told that only wigs made of human hair could be styled. So I got a human hair wig thinking I might use it to perform. I never did. I danced Snow Queen in The Nutcracker when bald and the director wanted me to wear a tiara with a silver net that covered my entire head. She was uncomfortable with me dancing bald, but many in the audience were disappointed. I don’t know if there are wigs styled into a bun, so your best bet would be to purchase a long wig made of human hair and then have it styled into a bun.
Have you tried reaching out to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo? They use a lot of ballet-styled wigs in their performances. They may be able to steer you in the right direction.
What a marvellous idea! Thank you, Maggie!
For those of you not in the know, the company consists of boy ballerinas – chaps in drag with the most beautiful tutus and costumes. They dance en pointe and they’re fantastic. I had hoped to see them when they toured the UK just over a year ago, but I sadly couldn’t make it.
So I fired off an email to the company – and received a response from the general manager Liz Harler, no less, straight away.
She said the dancers buy their own wigs – and then style them into buns. She also said she’d ask around the dancers themselves to see if they could help further. Thanks Liz!
And, sure enough, a few minutes later, I got quite a long email from Alberto Pretto, one of the dancers. I was quite starstruck!
Alberto was born in Italy and trained with the Academie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace, in Monte Carlo itself. He joined the Trocks in 2011 and has also danced with the English National Ballet.
He also has the most beautiful natural long hair, so probably doesn’t even need a wig – but bless him, he wanted to help.
As I say, his email was quite long, but here’s an extract…
I was very touched by your email. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey with us! It is very nice that you are able to learn so much about ballet with the support of your teachers. I see why you would want to look your best at the examination. As far as wigs are concerned, I hope I might be able to help you…
He then suggested going for a centre parting, choosing a lace front wig over a hard front, saying synthetic hair is fine, and throwing in a few tips on how to wear a bun. Oh, he also suggested BobbiePinz as a top wig supplier, so I’ll be checking the website out later.
I would suggest to buy a beautiful lace front wig, with center parting and style it the romantic way with the low bun. In that way you won’t have to worry about anything, you can concentrate on your dancing, still look very pretty and look like one of the Trocks! I hope this was helpful. Happy dancing my dear! xoxo, Alby
Oh, and some good news for Trocks fans…
We will be touring the UK again in 2018. I am looking very much forward to that! Hopefully we’ll meet!
Alby, thank you so, so much. I am forever in your debt and I shall look forward to buying you a post-show drink on your next tour!
So to conclude, it can be pretty cool being a transgender ballet dancer, especially when you get such fantastic advice from pretty amazing ballerinas.
Finally, the National Health Service gets some stick – especially from we trans people who are stuck on the waiting list to see the gender identity clinic doctors.
But spare a thought for people who don’t have the luxury of the NHS, such as those over the Pond, especially seeing as Donald Trump wants to do all he can to scrap Obamacare.
Maggie has to raise $45,000 for her cancer treatment. She’s raised over $32k of that already but still has a way to go. If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, please make a donation by clicking here. Thank you.