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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2003 11:26 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
In case some of you missed this topic in Ballet about the "ice cream ballerina" at the Bolshoi:

<a href=http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=002152>Volochkova gets ANGRY!</a>


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2003 7:36 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
So far this thread seems to be mostly centred on the push for female dancers to be skinny. The other side of the coin is all the poor males who are too "stocky".

Most of the male dancers that I come across are of quite slim, athletic builds, and usually quite tall.

I am 17 years old, about 5 foot 9, and I weigh just under 70 kg.

I will readily admit that I carry a small ammount of excess body fat. Unfortunately, due to certain genetic pre-dispositions, I store most of it on my thighs, hips and bottom, rather than my stomach, so that in tights I look quite disproportionate for a male.

Hence my teacher has decided that I should idealy get down to about 60 kg. (for those amongst us who are still using the Imperial measurements, 1kg is about 2 pounds)

For a normal person, I am already quite thin. (Incidentally, during one season I lost weight so rapidly that some people asked my brother if I was annorexic...I must admit I was a little flattered, disturbing as that sounds) When I tell people I am trying to lose weight they usually laugh at me.

Still, we all try to make the best of what we are given. This is all I have to say for now. Any thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2003 8:05 pm 
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To be more precise, for those of us still using the Imperial (or U.S) measurements, one kilo is about 2.2 lbs. So going from 70 kg to 60 kg would be more like going from 154 pounds to 132 pounds, not from 140 pounds to 120 pounds.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2003 8:43 pm 
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Location: San Francisco, CA
The boys I know in ballet have their own set of worries about weight, whether they feel they should gain or lose bulk. I have to say, I'm a little shocked that your teacher would ask you to lose weight. If djb's calculations are correct, your target weight and height is nearly the same as I am right now, which I would say is a bit light for a man. It's all aesthetics and subject to individual body types, of course, but I do urge you to be careful in how and how much you move toward 60 kg!


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 7:05 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Bearing in mind, though, that I'm only 17 and not fully grown. Also, my teacher is very old fashioned, and thinks that weight is the same thing as fat. I may have to bend the truth with her a bit, methinks...


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 8:26 am 
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Posts: 205
Location: New York
Failli,
You seem to have a smart perspective on this. I would suggest focusing a bit less on the numbers on the scale, and more on proportioning. Maybe building up your shoulders and and chest with some weight training could help even you out a bit. It'll come with time. I'm happy to hear that you are willing to think independently of your teacher's "old-fashioned" notions of weight. :) I know that I "look" about ten pounds lighter than when I started ballet again. But I'm not. It was just a matter of rearranging a bit. Like organizing a closet. Same stuff in there--just put away neatly :)


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 9:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 109
Location: El Granada, California, USA
The issue is alive and well in Russia:
[url=http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?p=news&g=events/en/091703ballerina&e=1&tmpl=sl&nosum=0&large=0&t=1063812353",750,580);]Bolshoi Fires Volochkova][/url]

<small>[ 17 September 2003, 11:35 PM: Message edited by: Michael ]</small>

_________________
Michael Phelan, BayDance.com


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2003 9:31 pm 
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Location: Australia
The face (or more the body) of ballet may be changing. But over here in Australia we're gonna need one mighty large kick in the butt, to change our way of thinking.
I'm a 15 year old dancer at a full time school which offers not only ballet, but jazz,tap,contempory,character and acrobatic classes. At heart I'm a true ballet dancer and this would be my dream career. Obviously I must be slim to have gotten into this school, but in the eyes of a company director, I would be classed as an overweight ballet dancer. :(
As a young dancer I was taught incorrect technique for sustaining leg positions and have overdeveloped my quadreceps and bum muscles. No matter how much running I do, it's impossible to burn off these muscles.I have slowly begun to retrain these muscles but it's not easy. I would LOVE to become a ballet dancer, but it seems that I will be forced to give up this dream because of my body shape. Why does the professional industry have to be so tough??


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2003 10:17 pm 
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Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Look what I just found from an "unknown" source (looks like a class report from Univ. of Florida):

Quote:
One more problem encountered by teachers and students who are not properly educated about Vaganova training is the misunderstanding of the processes of lengthening and elongating the spine. Tucking under, a common misinterpretation of straightening the spine, is created by the forced straightening of the lumbar spine. Often encouraged by misinformed teachers who are unqualified to teach the Vaganova method, tucking under flattens all other curves in the spine and greatly reduces the spine s flexibility and the capacity for shock absorption. What s more, this practice leads to stressed ligaments, overall body tension, bulky thighs, and large buttocks muscles (Grieg 40). When doing ballet, an improperly elongated spine --especially in Vaganova technique-- leads to vulnerability in which the lumbar spine collapses in back bending activities. These activities --anything from port de bras to arabesque-- become harmful under these conditions, as sharp angles are created in the spine (Grieg 24).


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2003 1:23 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Stiff, running won't "burn-off" your quads and glutes. The movements involved in running will actually use them and can make things worse. The only way to change your shape is to transfer the work from your quads and glutes to your inside thighs and the backs of the legs. This change of working takes AGES and is very gradual. But keep at it, I used to be the same (in fact, I still have large quads and a big butt for a ballet dancer), but over time it does change.

Citibob, maybe that's why I have "bulky thighs and large buttock muscles"?


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2003 5:12 am 
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Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Some schools are known for turning out dancers with big thighs. If you train there, there is very little you can do about it, it just happens. If you train elsewhere in a different manner, you end up with a different physique in the thighs.

At my company, we all end up with long stretched-out thighs. We do a lot of tendu, stretching the leg and foot in all directions. Other than that, I don't know the exact reasons why our training works this way.

Calves are different. They grow and decide on their size, and then there's not much you can do to get bigger or smaller calves.

<small>[ 03 October 2003, 07:13 AM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2003 2:19 am 
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Location: Australia
Thanx Failli, I have been constantly working on activating the right muscles, and my teacher commented in my parent-teacher interviews that my leg muscles were slowly changing shape. Which I've gotta be happy about, even though there is still a HEAP of work to be done . In fact, I think it will be one of those things that never becomes completly automatic for me (using the right muscles that is).
Citibob, that info really confirmed what my teacher has been telling me about spinal alignment. I'm a fairly "staight up and down" kind of dancer that has been working at flattening my spine for years. Just this last week she began telling me to lift 'up and forward' instead of just up which feels awful to me. I was clinging onto the barre for dear life before realising that i wasn't actually going to fall over, I'm just not used to this way of standing. :D Sounds funny I know, but such a slight ajustment can seriously make you feel like you'll be kissing the floor any moment


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:27 pm 
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Posts: 205
Location: New York
stiff,
Don't lose hope that you'll never find working with the hamstring and inner thighs easy and automatic. It just takes some reprogramming of both your body and mind to work in a different way. I've been forcing myself to never EVER grip my quads to lift my leg in extension. It also meant a readjustment of how I stand on the supporting hip, and a lot of overall "core" strength work. For a long time, this meant low extensions. After nine months of very diligent work, I can feel my hamstrings doing almost all the work when my leg is up. I can actually feel them flexing and extending, and my leg is much lighter. It almost "lifts" on it's own. Totally different feeling. Making sure you're very stretched behind the knee is necessary too. The lower hamstring area can be very tight in a lot of people, even ones who are naturally otherwise flexible. If you keep at it, change can happen. That's the point of training anyway :)


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2003 2:51 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Hi, I moved some of the discussion above to the Studio forum:

Burning off Muscles


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:54 pm 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
Elegant, obese dancers shatter stereotypes



CNN

HAVANA, Cuba (AP) -- Cuban ballet dancers in white glide across the floor, executing an airy blend of pirouettes and back stretches. Within seconds, spectators are captivated, quickly forgetting what at first they couldn't overlook -- most of the dancers weigh more than 200 pounds. <a href=http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/americas/01/19/cuba.voluminous.dancers.ap/index.html target=_blank>more</a>


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