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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 9:55 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Yup, sadly, I have to second Bunhead's impressions. I know of girls who ate toilet paper in professional school to supress their appetites. It sounds shocking now, at the time it seemed like a reasonable thing to do because the rewards always went to those who could eat the least and still perform physically.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 10:07 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
It would be interesting if someone from the school would answer this.....to see what they have to say.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 11:06 am 
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Just as a sidenote, I'm reading a very outdated book right now called "Off Balance: Inside the World of Ballet." It was written when Smuin was still SFB co-director. In it, several distressed SFB school students tell of the random weigh-ins they were subjected to. Apparently, the weigh-ins used to be scheduled but girls would fast like mad to get under 110 pounds (according to the girls in the book, hitting 115 could mean the end of your days at the school). So then the weigh-ins were unannounced and the girls lived in constant fear of them. I doubt the SFB school does this anymore, but it is a not-so-distant part of the institution's history. The book was published in 1982.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 4:14 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Responsibility for this kind of environment is shared by many segments of the population - the teachers, administrators, fellow dancers, family and friends of the dancers.<P>And it is also the responsibility of critics and the audience. <P>But it is not just in the dance world - it is also in modeling, gymnastics, acting...wherever there is a false glamour - there will be false standards. In my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2001 10:30 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
I too am shocked, it brought tears to my eyes reading your post Bunhead.<P>It is a bit of a chicken and a egg situation, public perception has to change to accept different shaped and sized dancers - but who needs to change first the public or the dance companies?<P>A British magazine editor for Marie Claire I think it was tried to changes perceptions by trying to start an alliance between othe magzine editors to use more "real" looking models and was met by an extremely hostile response. What can you do?


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 6:21 am 
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Location: Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
Commenting on Belinda's sidenote, the same type of weigh-in activities were an unkept secret in NY as well. I do not know if they still go on. I sincerely hope not.<P>I think, having viewed the corps of both ABT and NYCB in the past couple of weeks, that there is more flesh on some of those bones than in the past. The dancers look more muscular and some of them even more feminine than in decades gone by. Of course, this is relatively speaking, and from an audience perspective. These girls may still be below the "poverty line" re: weight, but this does look like an improving picture.<P>I would acknowledge that there is a double standard, even when lip service is given to the notion that too thin is no good. I have heard of cases here where dancers who are too thin are rewarded, and that is a much louder message than the "you should eat more" message.I heard recently of a teen-ager who auditioned for the part of Clara in the Nutcracker in a regional company, was told she was "too mature" for the role, went on a crash diet and lost a ton of weight (and probably all evidence of maturation), reauditioned and WAS GIVEN THE PART. After Nutcracker season, she had to seek medical attention because of her anorexia.<P>I don't know what you do to counteract this societal bent on thinness and physical perfection. I am in a small, private studio setting, with students of all sizes and shapes, and very few of them are envisioning professional careers. I have an open forum with my pre-teens and teens about body image, nutrition, weight and the consequences of eating too little. Within the past week, I have had two "red flag" situations: one a girl in her mid-teens who didn't particularly like the configuration of one part of her anatomy and decided to severely restrict her food intake over a period of months to try and change it. The other, a ten year old boy, was upset that his maturation was proceeding faster than usual, and told me that if he stopped eating, he thought he could slow down the growth of hair under his arms! <P>It's not just at ABT or SAB or SFB. And how do you counteract it? Maybe it's time to start a ballet company where ballet dancers are accepted based solely on their ability to dance. No, one more thing: there would be weigh-ins to weed out anyone who is too thin. Can you just see all the skinnier dancers running to a restaurant to chow down to put on a couple of pounds before weigh-in day? What would box office be like for that company? Would people go to see them? Come to think of it, though, there was a time not long ago, when African-American dancers were not allowed to dance in major companies, that they were thought to be physically unsuited to ballet. Arthur Mitchell took care of that myth with Dance Theater of Harlem. So it is possible to change public opinion.<P>Until we get our "healthy company" up and running, and discounting all the societal messages, I think at the very least, that those involved in the education and nurturing of young dancers must be ever-vigilant and accountable about the messages they personally are giving to their dancers. No more of this rewarding anorectic behavior with leading roles. As I said to my teenager, let's put the issues on the scale. On one side we have this perceived physical "flaw." On the other side, we have your life. Which is more important? <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 8:23 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Mexico DF
I think we all have to know much more about anorexia ,bulimia and discrimination,because i strongly belive that most of the cases are hidden.Bunhead talks about 40%,Nancy has two redflags.How many yellowones or blue,orange and pale green are there in the world ?<BR>This is a social disease that we are looking at by it's consecuences,we must look for the causes.How many violence against children is hide in those problems?<BR>In the other side,i will refer to those who do not match the exigences but they are allready dancers.There is a 10 years old boy in Guadalajara,Isac,he will not be enough tall to get in a company even in Mexico,his parents aren't tall enough,he is small for his age,but he dances like an angel and his tecnique is very developed for his age,he is allready a dancer,but he has not support or scholarship oportunities facing the standards stablished.Can we help this kid?<BR>If we don't change the world the world will change our most precious belives.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 12:19 pm 
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Location: London
I am appalled at what I read, bunhead. Bulimia and anorexia are terrible diseases - they stay with you forever. To call them eating disorders is almost to trivialise them. That is not intended as offence to anyone that calls them that, it's just that they take over the mind - change the way a young woman views her body. She sees fat, she truly does - she sees something that isn't there because her brain tells her that it is there. Even those that manage to gain weight and live an ordinary life, never lose the instinct - it colours the life and in times of stress, it comes back. It affects relationships with families, all but ruins romantic relationships and, I believe, mostly preventable. Unfortunately, uncurable - ie it lives with ther person to some degree. If tuberculosis swept through a school, it would be shut down and its practices and procedures questioned. It is not my place to condemn what I do not know for fact and we must understand that the illnesses are complex, extremely complex, and the triggers can be slight. But these illnesses are soul-destoying.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 12:38 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
But this case is not about eating disorders... remember.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 12:51 pm 
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Location: London
No - agreed - absolutely. But the BIG Forum did discuss the full range of issues relating to body image of dancers and eating disorders were discussed.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 9:01 pm 
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Location: Washington St.
<BR>Nancy wrote the following:<P>"I think, having viewed the corps of both ABT and NYCB in the past couple of weeks, that there is more flesh on some of those bones than in the past."<P>Upon first glance, I thought it read "having viewed the _corpse_ of both ABT and NYCB" and it didn't even strike me as strange -- sometimes I've seen ballerinas so skinny they seemed nothing more than dancing corpses...


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2001 9:10 pm 
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Location: Washington St.
Here is a translation of Ballet Neoclasico's post in Spanish. Since he/she said it was very important, I took the liberty to post it so more people could read it:<P>I live in a country whose body type is very different from the general standards for ballet in the world. I myself have suffered discrimination and rejection as a result of my physical qualities. As a result, I understand perfectly the subject in debate. I believe that, behind the particulars of this case, at the bottom of it all is the incapacity of the social system to grant equality, justice, and dignity to all human beings. There exists a profound contradiction between the naturalness of the ballet and the selection criteria of the schools and companies. You can't try to establish an activity whose results and achievements are entirely subjective by establishing objective criteria.<P>In no way should we justify discrimination, but neither can we fool ourselves. Ballet is extremely demanding, and dangerous for someone who is not physically endowed. We should neither confuse nor use it improperly: Discrimination is discrimination whether or not it is disguised. I remember that here the subjects in question are minors.<P>I propose:<P>1. The schools should incorporate into their structure a course of studies to establish if a less endowed aspiring student can develop in the future. In each case, guide this in the most appropriate direction.<P>2. Revise the criteria used for selecting aspiring students. Make the criteria balanced and coherent, even when they are strict.<P>3. Create dignified alternatives for those who are rejected.<P>4. Spread a culture of respect for human dignity in all areas of ballet. The school creates the conditions and the artist will emerge, either there or in another place at a later time. No school could aspire to form artists, unless it brings us to discuss such painful areas as discrimination and anorexia. <BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2001 5:45 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Thank you so much Katheryn....very much indeed.<P>There certainly is not much that one can disagree with in that post. However, there are many people who come from countries in which the physical attributes - height for instance - are a bit different. People from Asian countries sometimes are a bit shorter and they are wonderful ballet dancers. <P>And, we have quite a number of Hispanic dancers who are stars of the first magnitude. I don't need to list them, you all know their names.<P>Whilst I have always always (that is not a typo) decried what has happened with weight issues in the dance (and other) worlds, I am not sure that we can go completely in the other direction. In the ballet, and other fields such as ice skating, the men have to lift the women. There has to be some consideration of that fact. <P>And it is also true that to some degree height is involved especially on the part of the man - it is almost impossible to partner a woman who is taller than her partner - finger turns for instance, just don't work.<P>Is this an excuse for the abuses we see going on? ABSOLUTELY NOT Extremes on either end are to be avoided, in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2001 8:56 am 
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Location: Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
Katheryn, thanks for your "funny" re corps vs corpse. Point well taken. And, thanks also for your great translation of Ballet Neoclasico's post. I had read it in Spanish, but my Spanish is rusty. From your reply, I can see I missed a lot on my own.


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 Post subject: Re: Keefer Case and Body Image - BIG Forum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2001 2:15 pm 
Extraordinary that bunhead can devise that tissue of LIES about SFB - guess bunny-boo never counted on running up against any number of people on this thread who were there when she was who KNOW that her statements are resoundingly untrue - shame shame...! SFB is now, always has been and always will be one of THE great schools...been there for 25 years now and know EVERY student who ever went through the school...


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