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 Post subject: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 10:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 5
we all know what the typical ballerina looks like thin,extreamly flexable,big arch,and great tecnique. well what if there is a dancer who has every quality but the part of being thin. what would you say or think! probably everyones first impression would be that she cant dance or shes not graceful or even flexable. i am not saying a monster of a person but someone who is full. i am that person though iam not huge everyone always gets the idea that i cant dance, true it dose look better when a thin person dances!when i danced in my end of the year recital i had a duet with a thin girl she has been danceing since she was 3and is thin basically you can say she is the typical ballerina,but she dosent love it and dosent put her heart into it. so ofcourse everyone thought because she is so thin she would do better but after the praformance eveyone was complementing me they said that they could tell throgh my dancing that i love it and thats were iam the happiest. therefore,i belive that ya being thin makes dancing look nice but havig love ,devotion,and passion for dancing and being determined and disiplined makes a dance look beautiful!!!!!! what do you think? do you really have to be thin to be a great dancer?


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: San Francisco
I think you certainly don't have to be thin to be a great dancer. I have enjoyed watching many not-thin dancers. However, you do have to be thin to be acceptable to certain artistic directors.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:05 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 60
Location: France
I think most of us has seen once some very thin and beautiful girls... who were dreadful when dancing. Indeed, I think an ugly way of dancing is more notable on a thin body, maybe because we excpect she dances better than others. Moreover, sometimes thin girls have difficulties to stand their back straight, what is not really beautiful.
On the other hand, in my ballet school last June, a girl who hasn't got a body of a "perfect ballerina" has had many soloist parts. The teacher wanted to reward her for her dedication: she is such an hard-worker that her level is good. However, I think she has been good for many years, but she has had to wait until now to become a soloist. I suppose she would have been a soloist sooner if she had been tall and thin...

The problem is the same among professionnal dancers within a company: the ones who are different (taller, shorter, bigger... than the others)always have to fight to see their talent recognized.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 1:02 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2002 11:01 pm
Posts: 602
Location: Seattle, WA,USA
I would say that you have to be at your own physical peak to be a great dancer - which probably means not carrying additional weight, but we have to remember that genetically that everyone has a certain set point which is optimum for them, and within this range there is a huge variation. ( Unfortunately, I recently overshot mine ;) ). If you aare absolutely in tune with your body this set point will just feel right.
That being said, I am pretty amazed at how some companies require a certain "look" to their dancers where the varation in the corps has got to be less than 5 lbs, and the dancers are really pushing the leaness envelope. Although the artistic director is the one creating that look, isn't he just giving the audience what he percieves they want?
So, can you be a prima ballerina for the Kirov at 150 lbs? No. Can you be a great dancer if that is your true set point? Absolutely.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 3:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1876
Location: New England
You have noticed that many people in the ballet world pre-judge one's dancing by her body. Ballet is a skill, and your level of accomplishment at that skill is the most important factor at determining how much the audience likes the dance.

As for when I imagine in the typical ballernia --- I usually imagine someone with years of professional experience.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 5:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2002 11:01 pm
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Location: New Orleans, LA
Bob, inevitably the state the instrument is in will affect the skill with which you can practice your craft. One of only a handful of statements that might be applicable to the original question is that there is no universally applicable cutoff point in terms of weight. It's what looks good on you, what doesn't interfere with your dancing abilities, what is or isn't what suits the company you want to dance for. Another factor here might be the definition of "thin". You don't have to be thinking of an 85 pound stick figure.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 6:24 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 55
Location: NYC
But part of what people generally like about ballet is going to see a particular 'look' or idealized body type that they associate with the form. Like it used to be if you had the wrong proportions, head too big as a woman or whatever, you shouldn't even try to train.

I'm not supporting this. It's one of the reasons ballet doesn't appeal to me as an expressive form. But where is there a situation where the vocabulary and content of ballet is valued but the conventional aesthetic of it doesn't matter? William Forsythe and company? I dunno...not trying to be a downer here. I love dancers with more weight and mass to them, and I say, girl, dance your soul out. But just know what it is that people look for and expect from ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 7:38 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 26, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Singapore
yesterday my dance friends and i were sitting around, waiting, when one of my friends, who's the best dancer in our school, started playing around with my other friend's foot, arching it and looking at it and commenting on her instep and such. it's sort of like her hobby. then we started talking about the 'dancer' attributes we all had, like that girl had the body and the feet, and another friend of ours we didn't do ballet had perfect turnout and the most flexible feet in the world, and my friend, the best dancer, started complaining about her attributes and i realised that she actually didn't really have anything going for her! she was 'curvy', not a skinny stick like me, and all her great turnout and her nice feet came from her hard work; they weren't natural, she worked really hard for it, and her flexible back, too. she really doesn't have any natural dancer 'features' in her body, but when she dances, whoa! she doesn't look like a dancer when she's not dancing, but when she is, everyone knows she's great.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 4:40 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 223
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
In our studio we have 2 sticks, a boy and a girl. The boy is stuggling to put weight on (lucky ;) ), but the girl is under no pressure to get fuller. In my opinion, she is not a very good dancer at all. While she is flexible and tall and thin, she is weak, has no contol or smoothness, and does not use her face. She dances, but she doesn't DANCE.

We also have a "curvy" girl, who at the moment is recovering from injury. Nevertheless, she is wonderfully expressive and musical, has great line and balance, and is very strong and controlled. She has worked hard her whole life to stay as thin as she is (her family are all quite large) but when she is dancing you don't think,"Oh look at that elephant!" you just see the dance.

Anyway it is my personal opinion that dancers who are too thin tend to look sickly and ugly.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 4:41 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
In our studio we have 2 sticks, a boy and a girl. The boy is stuggling to put weight on (lucky ;) ), but the girl is under no pressure to get fuller. In my opinion, she is not a very good dancer at all. While she is flexible and tall and thin, she is weak, has no contol or smoothness, and does not use her face. She dances, but she doesn't DANCE.

We also have a "curvy" girl, who at the moment is recovering from injury. Nevertheless, she is wonderfully expressive and musical, has great line and balance, and is very strong and controlled. She has worked hard her whole life to stay as thin as she is (her family are all quite large) but when she is dancing you don't think,"Oh look at that elephant!" you just see the dance.

Anyway it is my personal opinion that dancers who are too thin tend to look sickly and ugly.

Nevertheless, the stick gets all the best roles (surprise surprise).


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 11:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 38
Location: New York
I think the issue of the perfect "ballet body" is a phenomenon seen throughout life, in arts and sports. When I played soccer growing up, it always seemed the kids who looked like the "soccer type" always made the best teams, while the kids who were maybe a little chunky or who didn't have the right look never advanced, depsite performing better on the field. This may be a classic example of judging a book by its cover - assessing talent based on a certain body type or "look" rather than true performance ability.

On the other hand, maybe a smaller frame has practical advantages. A good friend of mine who is a ballerina has a very petite frame, but large breasts. To her this is a disadvantage because they apparently "get in the way" during some dances with a male partner. While I am very much against judging dancers on the basis of body type, maybe it does have advantages in some circumstances...

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MW


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 10:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 26, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 69
Location: Singapore
i think that while 'unperfect' body types have earned discrimination in various ways, despite everything, if you can dance, it counts for a lot and that you should be glad about that. it is an idealistic way of thinking, but until i grow out of this age of idealism i'm going to keep on thinking that way.
(it could also be becuase i'm a skinny stick. heh.)


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 3:11 am 
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Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Where I come from, people get cast because of their skill, not their body. It really does make a difference. When you think about it, it's really foolish to promote people who can't dance just because you like their bodies. What you'll end up is a fashion parade, not a ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 7:25 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1451
Location: San Francisco, CA
I'm going to go ahead and throw this out there:

Realistically speaking, to a certain extent in nearly any professional dance company, people are chosen according to their body, whether we're talking about ballet or modern, hip, hop or jazz. Truly, the last place I saw that didn't do that was the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane company.

Some companies might not mind having dancers who are sticks, or big-boned, or short or tall, but for 99% of the professional companies out there, those who choose and cast dancers will have some aesthetic or criteria in mind.

I haven't seen your company, Bob, but I think one has to be very careful about saying as a blanket statement, "Where I come from, people get cast because of their skill, not their body."

Can you honestly say that people are not cast because of their body? Would they have cast Larry Golhuber, the Bill T. Jones dancer who was 400 pounds (and a fabulous mover, btw)?

I fully agree with Matthew that thinness has nothing to do with being a great dancer and with Pearl, that you should be proud of your skill more than anything else.

Here's a quote from Jones that I love:
Quote:
I want my dance to be bigger and more generous and you know what? When people say to me at cocktail parties, "Oh, I have two left feet, I'm too fat, I'm too old," I'm saddened by that. Dancing is like your voice...It's a gift to you. Everyone can do it. I danced with a woman with no arms and legs three years ago in Vienna. What was that dance? It was sexy, it was real. And if dancing is a symbol of what it means to be alive, I dare you to dance bravely. I dare you to be fierce, and I dare you to be outrageous and generous.


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 Post subject: Re: the typical ballerina
PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 9:56 am 
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Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Quote:
I haven't seen your company, Bob, but I think one has to be very careful about saying as a blanket statement, "Where I come from, people get cast because of their skill, not their body."
We were discussing schools here, not professional companies. And in the school, I can say definitely most definitely --- the kids get promoted and cast based on their skill level. Absolutely no question about it. We were talking about situations in which stick-skinny kids get promoted even though they can't dance --- which doesn't happen in our school. The point of casting in the school is to put every student through a course of experience that will do the most benefit to his or her dancing.

Then there's the professional company. We are not Bill T. Jones. We are a ballet company. The example of the 400-lb dancer is a bit ridiculous and I don't need to address it.

But within reasonable, generally accepted healthy limits, the company will hire anyone who can dance. That doesn't mean that if someone drops out at the last minute we can hire just anyone to replace him or her. The replacement will have to move in similar ways, depending on the part. Height is also an issue --- we can't put short guys with tall ladies. All of this complicates things.

What I CAN say is that given a blank slate --- no choreography yet --- our company could work with just about any set of appropriately skilled dancers. The resulting dance would be different depending on the body shapes and movement qualities of the dancers involved.


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