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 Post subject: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2000 6:27 pm 
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Here is a sharp comment by Lisa Jo Sagolla in her Backstage.com article:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Have you ever felt it unfair that only those with "dancers' bodies" are granted permission to dance professionally? We've all been taught that the four components of dance are space, time, energy, and the human body. As choreographers we are encouraged to deeply explore all the nooks and levels of space, myriad rhythms and temporal configurations, and the vast spectrum of energies and efforts. Why then is it assumed that only one human body type is appropriate to perform our diverse array of dance movements? Back Stage has set out to challenge the conventional notion of "a dancer's body" by talking with five spectacular performers whose remarkable success on today's dance scene defies the myth of an "ideal" terpsichorean physique.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><B><A HREF="http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/bpibs/20000810/en/_b_h1_dancing_despite_the_odds_when_energy_and_imagination_mean_more_than_size_and_shape_h1_b__1.html" TARGET=_blank>Click here for the full article</A></B><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Admin (edited April 05, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2000 9:13 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA USA
This is all true--the only times this issue becomes of paramount importance is when male dancers (or vice versa!) have to lift female dancers--I can't, (as a choreographer or artistic director) in good conscience, ask someone to lift (many times straight up) someone who weighs more than they do---it's not fair. Oftentimes, some dancers don't even have training in partnering, never mind lifting someone who weighs more than they do. It can be done, but one has to be experienced to begin with...this is the only time when body types become a safety/injury issue. Of course, it's not as important in modern, where non-traditional partnering is more prevelant.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 2:52 am 
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it occured to me that marie, in particular, had something to add to this thread, which began from another BALLET topic, about body types suited to roles (or not).....here's the thread, if you'd like to, marie.... Image

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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 2:29 pm 
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I suppose the same thing could be said for gymnastics - Mary Lou Rettin was the last one I can think of who was not a completely emaciated prepubescent adolescent.<P>Actually, I enjoy seeing different body types on the stage - makes it more interesting. Homogeniety can be boring.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 3:27 pm 
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basheva, did you view this year's olympics gymnastics at all? i thought THIS year's group was surprisingly more diverse in body shape, than we have seen for years.

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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 7:40 pm 
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Yes, actually I did view it - and they all still looked liked emaciated prepubescent adolescents to me. And I think they have the ugliest hands imaginable - those splayed fingers that pretend they are dance hands just make me cringe.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 8:19 pm 
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Basheva, do you mean the way the gymnasts use their hands, or what their actual digits look like?<p>[This message has been edited by Priscilla (edited November 12, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2000 11:25 pm 
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Lucy used to spend hours teaching gymnasts for Cirque du Soleil. Gymnasts have a natural tendency to hop, skip and jump. Apparently, it took them a very long time to understand the running gait that is now familiar in all Cirque du Soleil shows.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 2:53 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I agree with Basheva that a variety of body shapes can make for greater interest. I remember that the Bil T Jones Company had a woman dancer who was wider than average. Boy could that gal dance! And, surprisingly, got a lot of speed and attack in the spins.<P>By and large there is much greater variety in the body shapes that we see in modern dance companies in the UK. What's the position in the US and elsewhere?


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 7:56 am 
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Priscilla - I mean that final pose the gymnasts use - like after a vault - those splayed hands and that horrific back arch.<P>But it is also on display during the floor exercises - as they pose and try to pretend it is dance. The men don't pretend and just do the floor exercise and I find that much more enjoyable. Gymnasts are not dancers and dancers are not gymnasts - and I don't expect them to be.<P>As for the different body types - that is one of the things I love about flamenco - and other folk dance - it lends variety and pleases the eye (ok - my eye!!). I also relish that these different types and ages are welcome. It used to be that way in classic dance too, but I think that Balanchine changed that. So we are left, in my opinion, with how many ways can she bend - how high can she get her legs.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 1:01 pm 
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Location: New York, NY, USA
Back to the topic of body types: there are many famous dancers who, if auditioning for a rigid audition board looking for ideal body types (whether as young dancers who were just starting their training, or as older dancers auditioning for a company)would never been accepted either for training or for a company. Fonteyn is a good example. Seymour is another. The list could go on and on. Even Pavlova might have been rejected for training today, because (so I understand) her second toe was too long and this would now be considered a contraindication for pointe work. Men have had it somewhat easier because the criteria are somewhat different. <P>I know that where state funding and scholarship money is involved, those responsible for choosing the recipients of these monies want to get the most ideal type possible for training. When we consider the trained, young dancer auditioning for his/her first job, then acquiered skill and native talent become more obvious. Then it will depend more on whether a particular company has a "slot" for which he/she is suited. Nevertheless, there will always be talented, well-trained dancers who will find it difficult to get a job because fate has dealt them a cruelty when it comes to the shape of their body. To refer back to gymnastics, I would cite the case of Dominique Dawes. No matter how skilled she may be as a gymnast, she has an unfortunate curve in her legs which prevents her from looking beautiful or graceful no matter how hard she tries. If a ballet dancer had a similarly spoiled line, she would find her career severely limited.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 2:55 pm 
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There is no doubt that the current aesthetic determines what is acceptable. This is also true in modeling clothes - and in modeling for artists. Some of those females that the old artists found alluring are certainly not the taste of today.<P>The female body always seems to be subject to the aesthetics of the current fashion; i.e . - the bustles of the 1890's, the tiny waist lines of the mid 1800's. Then there was the foot binding of China - which was ostensibly used to indicate that the female of the household didn't need to work because the male was wealthy.<P> The male body is sometimes seen as the "norm" and the female body as "subject to alteration". <P>In opera a really obese diva is acceptable even in singing romantic roles - such as Carman - as long as her voice is beloved. But in the ballet/dance world - it is the body itself that is on display. I am not saying that I agree with this - but just seems to be the way it is. <P>Folk dance is much more accommodating because the object is not "beauty" and therefore the current aesthetic does not rule, in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 4:30 pm 
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When choreographing, I find it interesting to see how movements I create on myself look or function on various bodies. What adjustments in thinking about re-creating my movements do other people not made like me have to make?<P>The University dance program I work is pretty liberal about body type and age - the company auditions are open to students, faculty, and staff though most are students. Because of this there are people age 17/18 - 40 dancing with us. With this comes variation in body type and size as well as in dance experience and "ability".<P>It would be different if I were working with a group of people who seem as though they were all cut from the same cloth and pattern. Perhaps sometimes it would be simpler to manage, but I like the texture our various types brings to our performances once we're all practiced and ready.


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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2000 11:26 pm 
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i hope <B>schneider</B> doesn't mind my copying this excerpt from his post (which appeared in another thread about anorexia) into here:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>I do feel guilty however, as I reluctantly have to admit that chunky dancers do not please my eye. <P>On the other hand I saw an NBofC dancer last night who was just too damn thin and that bothered me too. <P>So I guess there is some sort of an ideal in my head and I have come to see it is a very narrow line that cannot be crossed one way or the other before I no longer see it as beauty. I suppose this makes me part of the problem. <P>I try to get off my mental hook by comparing dancers to runners, but I suspect if I really looked closer, that comparison would ruin my argument.(i.e. runners probably weigh more)<P>One thing I do know for sure, 40 years ago when I first began to attend the ballet, the dancers I saw weighed more than they do now!<P>Is it just us men to blame? Or do women prefer a slimmer dancer too?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><BR><p>[This message has been edited by grace (edited November 13, 2000).]

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 Post subject: Re: Does Body Type Matter?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2000 6:18 am 
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Since the question was asked in Schneider's quote - about how women feel about wanting to see a slimmer dancer - I will answer for myself..........<P>I enjoy seeing a woman who looks like a woman - not an androgenous being in a leotard or tutu. I remember once coming into a studio and there directly opposite me - totally in profile - was one of the women standing at the barre. She had her leg in developpe' a la seconde (it was ear height) and her head was turned away from me. There was several seconds when I could not tell which was her back and which her front. ICK!!<P>The Georgian Singers and Dancers that I recently saw were slender - but also womanly - read that as they had breasts - and it was very becoming and looked sort of like nature intended it. It made a nice contrast to the men - which also seems like that's how nature intended it.<P>


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