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 Post subject: your help - How does body type affect style of dance?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:55 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:46 am
Posts: 1
Hi! I'm in Australia doing a high school dance project and I would be really grateful for your help: opinions, stories, personal experiences, etc.
I will be doing my own research and work, so I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being lazy or anything, it would just be great if I had some primary information.

So...here's the topic: "How does a person's body type affect the style of dance they can participate in?"
e.g. Some of the topics I've been looking at are ballet feet (I read something about 'flat feet' somewhere), breakdancing (and how you need upper body strength), belly dancing and weight issues..but I'm not restricted to just these.

Thank you very much for any input! :D
Nisha...


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:36 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:16 am
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Hi Nisha,
Noticed you are new on the criticaldance forum, like me. I'm from Nigeria. I have the believe that a person's body type can affect the the syle of dance s/he can participate in. However, there can be exceptions to the rule. If one is immensely talented, no matter the amount of weight s/he carries dances do come easily to such a person. We have cases of people who are not necessarily trim, but have flexible bodies dancing quite apprciably well. Well goodluck with the project.
Lumumba.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3377
Location: Canada
Greetings

I think for dance, ballet is probably the most limiting in terms of body types. European companies seem to embrace a wider range of body types, but in general professional ballet dancers tend to fall within pretty narrow ranges. And I think this is both because of what audiences expect, but also because ballet is technique driven, and that technique requires a particular, sometimes extreme body type to be practiced in it's highest form.

Part of it is technique - you need hip structure that allows adequate turnout, musculatur and bone structure that permits excellent flexibility, feet suited for the strains of pointe work and an overall build that enhances bodyline. And this includes weight - ballet puts a great deal of stress on the body, especially pointe work for women and the partering for men. So dancers need to keep an appropriate body mass - i.e. balance of muscle and fat. Too heavy, and joints (and partners) are strained, too light and they risk not having the strength and health for rehearsals and performances. Height is also an issue - men that are too short can be limited in partnering, the same for women who are too tall. Not that there aren't places for tall women or short men in companies, but they often must work harder and face more selectivity in their search for a professional job.

And then there's asthetics - long limbs, a short torso, long necks, slender bodies and an elegant natural line make a dancer look that much better on stage and ehance technique. Stage light tends to 'add' poundage' to even the tiniest ballerina, so asthetics do and probably will always demand that ballerinas be quite slender. Men too have their own issues - they must be strong, but excessive musculature can ruin line and be jarring in the classical context. As such, male dancers tend also to be very slender - all lean muscle, with minute amounts of body fat.

It's a shame sometimes, I think, that body type does become so important in ballet, because it there are real artists who never make it. And I am certainly no fan of ultra thin dancers - though it's the aesthetic I am most familiar with - instead I prefer dancers who are well proportioned and toned. Bigger thighs or a chest are fine as long as they aren't out of proportion with the body, and the rest of the company. I like to see a company that has diversity, so the mix of shapes and sizes look natural, rather than a company with one or two very differently shaped dancers, who look out of place.

Kate


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:37 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:12 am
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Location: Texas
I agree that ballet is the most limiting.

While I have high arches and strong feet, and my body size does not limit me in my dance, I have very limited turnout and very short hamstrings. My ballet dancing, as a result, does not have the aesthetic properties that the form requires, which is why I will never be a professional ballet dancer.

I love modern, which is very conducive to my body type. It's perhaps one of the least limiting forms, depending on the choreographer or the technique.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:13 am 
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 14
Location: London, UK
May I ask why doing research on body types is important at high school level?

I would think that the main issue is finding a form or dance or a way to teach dance that keeps the students motivated and caters for students that might not be coordinated or athletic.


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