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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2001 9:44 am 
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Good point Stuart. The medical community and nutrition fields have made great strides in the past few years. We now know what's required for healthy bones...good, balanced nutrition, lots of calcium, (for strong bones) and good physical training. That might include adjunct training modalities for dancers....Pilates, yoga, whatever (see our "Studio" discussion on this topic). Although our aesthetic proclivities may "require" an ultra-thin "look", we may do at the risk of some serious medical consquences for our dancers, especially female (as far as the ultra thin issue goes)The dance (ballet) world negelects this information at their own peril, it is starting to seem.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2001 10:19 am 
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Maybe because I work for a company that is rather progressive in this field, I think this is all a bit of an over-reaction. I think most companies have procedures in place to deal with eating issues ( nutritionists, dieticians, doctors on staff). <P>I have already seen changes in the dance world. Look at videos from the late seventies, then videos from the last few years. I see more muscle tone than bone now than then.<P>But are we forgetting a major component here? If a dancer has no talent for ballet, despite training and the "perfect" body type, she still won't get a job, no matter how skinny. Or is it the talented dancers with jobs that then get thinner and thinner that we are talking about. Are we lumping all dieting into the anorexia category which is actually a very narrowly defined and specific disease. Are we just buying in to the media "all ballerinas are anorexia" sterotype?


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2001 12:06 pm 
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For my part (I can't speak for anyone else) LMtech, I guess I'm talking about the upper echelon of dancers; the top dancers competing for the top jobs in the top companies. As we know, the ballet world is highly competetive. There are dancers who are pretty, AND talented, AND musical, AND thin. All else being equal , many (not all!) directors may go with the thinnest, or the dancers with a certain "look". Do I think it's right, do I think it's fair, ,,,no!! Is that going to change? Not soon, hopefully someday! Of course, there are companies which have a variety of body types-Oakland Ballet used to be like that when Guidi was the director. Also, LMtech, I agree with you about current changes. Dancers are not as thin as they were say in the 70's. At New York City Ballet then, it was skeleton city!!! Ribs, sternums and hips sticking out !! As someone pointed out though; there were exceptions. Stars like Suzannne Farrell and Karin von ARoldingen were certainly quite healthy looking. Now we see a little more meat on the bones, thankfully! Maybe now, we're just a bit more enlightened to the health risks of being extremely thin-osteoperosis, weak bones, arthritis, malnutrition, etc.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited April 21, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2001 12:52 pm 
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However, I think that even if the major companies are changing in their attitudes, it's going to take some time for that to filter down to the young girls who want to be "ballerinas". When nine year olds start asking me about how skinny they have to be in order to dance, I find that very frightening. <P>The interesting thing - and the really scary part is - they think they have to lose weight before they can even go into a ballet class. A typical question I get (a dozen times a day) is: "how can I lose weight so I can take ballet?" This false aesthetic is very pervasive and isn't going to change overnight. In my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2001 4:02 pm 
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You're right Basheva. But some of those ideas that those youngsters have about weight come from other sources, other than the professional ballet world: magazines/fashion, television, older dancers that they hear talking in the studio, family and peers. The studio teachers and directors must also send a clear message about these issues: what is healthy and/or ideal.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited April 21, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2001 5:03 pm 
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To my mind - healthy is ideal. I don't see any way around that.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2001 11:27 am 
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For young students, a lot of the standards do come from ballet schools too. And I think some of that is just the students' expectations. Before the seventh grade, I was about 5'8" and weighed 150 lbs... I am strong with a large bone structure and wasn't overweight. I went to an audition for the local nutcracker, and the girls there (mostly from the more serious ballet school that was in charge of the production) all admired my height, and then said that I'd be perfect if I weighed 95 lbs. My thought was that I'd be dead if I weighed 95 lbs, but it still left a big impression. Students would come to my school from that school, saying that the teacher had called them "fat" or "pigs" and demanded that they lose weight. Because that school was more prestigious -- the kind that would produce a professional dancer now and then -- it became linked in my mind that to be in serious ballet training, you had to be super-thin. To this day I feel uncomfortable taking class from teachers in schools that have high expectations for dancers, because I still don't fit that ideal. I know it is silly, but it is a message that has been reinforced over and over. (Just visit your local dance shop and look at the posters... ours has a collage of skinny superstar ballerinas all over the walls in the dressing rooms -- how does that make you feel when trying on those oh-so-revealing leotards?) And when a message is reinforced over and over, it has power, even if one tries to fight against it.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2001 2:05 pm 
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Katheryn, your're right-if things (more healthy body weights) change, it will take time.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2001 5:33 am 
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From the Los Angeles Times - here are several replies to Toni Bentley's letter:<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Brava, Toni Bentley, for your rebuttal to Lewis Segal's plea for diversity on ballet technique.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Toni Bentley's article is full of holes.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Thank you, thank you, Toni Bentley, for your clear and honest thoughts on the physical standards for ballet dancers.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>As usual with people who defend their prejudices, Toni Bentley plays the political correctness card.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR><A HREF="http://www.latimes.com/news/comment/20010423/t000034299.html" TARGET=_blank><B>READ THE LETTERS HERE...</B></A><P>


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2001 2:30 pm 
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Susie-I couldn't agree more. I feel (I know I'm going to catch some flak for this)that some dance teachers are not all that educated about anatomy, physiology and nutrition. Often they just do something or teach something becasue "that's the way it's always been done". "That's the tradition". We MUST keep pace with advances in the medical,nutrition and body conditioning fields. I'm NOT saying that we should diagnose and treat people or try to pretend we're physical therapists: we're not!!; But, we need to be saavy enough to know when someone has a physical or emotional problem and know who/how to refer them to an appropriate professional. WE also need to know how the body sciences relate to dance training. Although I had some of this training in graduate school, I am studying it again. (taking a test to get certified as a personal fitness trainer)This stuff is important!!


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2001 3:52 pm 
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That's a very good point Susie....<P>There comes a point at which a teacher has to say to the student, this much your body can do and no further. Now here's how to work with what you have.....<P>I must get a dozen questions a day on "how thin do I have to be?" as opposed to only a few questions about artistry.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2001 5:41 am 
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But Susie - you said it so much better than I!!! <P>This brings us to the ongoing discussion of extending the physical vocabulary of the dance at the cost, in my opinion, over the artistic nuance of the dance.<P>And, it is my contention that the second is being lost in service to the first. Here is my prime example - I have given it before - but I can think of no better example, so please forgive me.<P>I saw MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet performed way back in 1968 - when the ballet was relatively new. In the scene right after the ballroom where R & J see one another for the first time. The ballroom empties out and for the first time R & J touch. She steps up into a supported arabesque and their palms touch. This arabesque was originally choreographed very low (that's how Fonteyn performed it) - about 45 degrees. And it symbolizes the new and tenuous birthing romance.<P>However, in subsequent performances many years later, this arabesque (that I have seen also done by Royal Ballet) is now 90 degrees and above. That beautiful moment is lost. The arabesque now resembles nothing special/different. Are subsequent ballerinas afaid we will think they are incapable of a high arabesque? I don't know - but it sure looks that way.<P>I miss that moment. An artistic opportunity is lost in service to athleticism.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2001 7:52 am 
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Basheva, you will be pleased to hear that<BR>this "beautiful moment" in Romeo and Juliet<BR>has not been lost forever.<BR>This season I have been to several RB<BR>performances and both Tamara Rojo and Alina<BR>Cojocaru had no problem with keeping their<BR>arabesque well below 90 degrees and capturing<BR>the magic of the moment you described so well. As soon as I saw it I remembered that<BR>I had seen you mention this example several<BR>times.<BR>Sorry, that this post is not directly related<BR>to the subject but I thought I let you know.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2001 10:02 am 
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First let me welcome you to the board, Odile - its wonderful to have you join us.<P>And, I especially want to thank you for letting me know that. Does this old dancer's heart good. <P>It would be wonderful for you to tell us what you see at performances, not all of us <BR>are lucky enough to see ballet often. Even with season tickets I only get to see about four to six performances a year by major companies. <P>Thanks again.


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 Post subject: Re: Weight and the Aesthetics of the Ballet - Lewis Segal of
PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2001 6:21 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
And then there's this:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>Big women in big dance show is a big deal</B><P>Stephanie Salter, SF Chronicle<P>JUST A FEW years ago, when Marina Wolf was taking a modern-dance class as part of an aerobics program, "I felt so left out of the loop. You know how modern-dance people like to talk about it being all free and open? But look at the dancers in all the companies. There is a specific body image, and it isn't large."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/04/26/ED228697.DTL" TARGET=_blank><B>More</B></A>


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