CriticalDance Forum

Dancers bodies
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Author:  balletenbarre [ Mon Aug 28, 2006 12:43 am ]
Post subject:  Dancers bodies

Why do dancers have to have a perfect body? I dance ballet, I'll be on pointe this year( I'm 15). I love ballet, but I don't want to be a professional dancer because of the extremely restrictive diet. I don't see why someone start a ballet company of normal shaped people, not large, but normal weight. I weigh 111 and I am 5'0 feet tall. I am short for a dancer, but I don't care. I think it is sick that being skinny is attractive. All there is is bones! Do dancers have a good reason to starve themselves?

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:58 am ]
Post subject: 

I’m no expert on weight but your weight appears to be just fine. It’s hard to form an opinion because of body type. This is an old issue that unfortunately is still an issue. Unfortunately, there is no governing body that rules over dance.

Ultimately the only way to get a company/school to listen is to take them to court like Kimberly Glasco did for the NBoC some years ago. Her issue was for dismissal but her involvement with Dancer Rights was part of the whole ugly mess.

Does anyone know of standards/guidelines for weight?

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Aug 28, 2006 11:45 am ]
Post subject: 


We ask that weight and weight guidlines NOT be discussed on this forum. Weight issues are a matter for a dancer and their doctor, and you should only seek advice from a medical professional.

et's continue this discussion, but make sure it is limited to discussion of generalities such as whether body type is over-emphasized or not, and please be aware that discussion of individual cases -- especially the asking for or giving advice -- is not allowed....

Professional dancers come in all sizes and weights, and it generally depends upon your natural metabolism and how much you exercise. A professional dancer who dances 5-7 hours a day is going to have a lot less trouble keeping a lower weight than a recreational or student dancer who has only a class or two a day or less. As such, the vast majority of dancers do not starve themselves - most watch their diets, but eat sensibly and others don't have to be so careful. One must differentiate from the emaciated look of fashion models, and the toned-burning tons of calories per hour look of most ballet dancers. Two very different things.

As such, my understanding is that the majority of eating disorders tend to be amongst ballet students. By the time you get into a company, if you're dancing at too far below your ideal weight or not eating properly, the stress of hours of practice & performance will generally manifest itself in repeated injuries or exhaustion. And while some artistic directors certainly go for the thinner side of things, they generally aren't going to go for dancers who are going to end up injured or unable to dance. So I think the real challenge is for pre-professional students to learn to eat properly - that can be very hard with all the temptations out there - but many schools are become serious about nutritional issues.

Perhaps part of the reason dancers tend to be thin is that people go to the theatre to escape and they wan't to see something that is 'otherworldly'. More practically, stage lighting does tend to 'put weight' on people. And for pas de deux work, while the woman's ability to 'assist' and carry herself properly is vital, there is a limit to what most men can lift/throw/carry on a regular basis.

Dancers in the US tend to be thinner - the Balanchine effect, I suppose. However, in Europe and elsewhere, curves are far from unusual.

Kate (moderator)

Author:  kurinuku [ Sat Feb 17, 2007 4:24 am ]
Post subject:  "size zero" debate

Ballet chief supports ban on ultra-thin models
by CHARLOTTE HGGINS for the Guardian
published: February 13, 2007

But Jane Hackett, the principal of the English National Ballet school, yesterday joined the "size zero" debate, publicly stating that the school bans students who are too thin and called on the fashion industry to follow suit.

She said: "If a girl or boy looks too thin or unhealthy, they are not allowed to dance, not allowed to perform at all.


UK ballet school bans skeletons from stage
by ROSALIE HIGSON and PETER WILSON for the Australian
published: February 15, 2007

At the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne, resident psychologist Lucinda Sharp said the days when dancers lived on cigarettes and coffee were gone.

"There was a time when very, very skinny dancers were fashionable, but we have a very strong holistic approach to the health and welfare of our students," she said.

Among the vocational dance schools around the world, the ABS is known as a leader.

"This is the only school in the world that has a full-time psychologist," Ms Sharp said.

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