Keith Lin's "Ballet Monsters" Capture #DancerLife

You know a ballet meme is good when it makes you chuckle to yourself and think, "So true." The most recent meme to capture what it's really like to be a ballet dancer is Ballet Monsters, a series of cartoons created by artist Keith Lin that are now circling the internet. Last year we spoke with Taiwan-based designer Lin about his leotard line, KeithLink; recently we got him to talk about the inspiration for his spot-on cartoons.

You're originally a costume designer. What made you decide to create these cartoons?

It all happened out of the blue! I was testing a new sketch pad I got for my computer and randomly drew a monster in a plié position. When I posted the cartoon on my Facebook page, it received a lot of positive feedback—and I knew I had revived my long-lost skill of comic drawing.

What is a “Ballet Monster”? Why a monster?

Ballet Monsters are actually me! I really love ballet, but I’ll never be a ballet dancer. When I draw, I can make myself a monster with high extension and perfect turnout. I can even create a whole ballet company!

How do you come up with your ideas?
Ever since high school, I’ve been surrounded by dancers and people in the dance world, so I understand the way they think. In fact, all my best friends are dancers, and the stories they tell me about their lives—the fun, the crazy, and the silly—are all inspirations for Ballet Monsters.

What are some challenges you have faced in drawing these Monsters?

It's hard for my characters to communicate emotion because they don't have mouths and their eyes are shut. Some people joke and say that they look like Hello Kitty—but that's just my distinct style of drawing. I rely on ballet positions to express feeling. Dancers speak with their bodies onstage, and to me the closed eyes show how they are enjoying the moment. Sometimes I feel like I’m choreographing on paper.

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: The Joffrey Ballet's Dara Holmes

A seasoned dancer, Dara Holmes' career with The Joffrey Ballet has consisted of a lot of heavy lifting in the ensemble. "As a new company member, I was onstage all the time," says Holmes, 28. "The older you get, the more you start to appreciate your body and want to preserve it. If I want to keep dancing and do bigger roles, I need to be healthy."

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Jeremy Kyle, Courtesy Laubacher

My First Month as a Professional Dancer in the Age of COVID-19

I moved to Eugene, Oregon, in August, brimming with nerves and excitement to launch my career as an aspirant with Eugene Ballet. After months of quarantining at home in Pittsburgh because of the coronavirus lockdown, transitioning to my new life on the West Coast marked a rapid shift. But in time, it granted me newfound feelings of security. For starters, the ritual of filling up my water bottle, packing my shoes and leotard, putting up my hair and walking into the studio reintroduced a much needed flow of normalcy into my life.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks