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 Post subject: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2000 2:24 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 2
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
My question is this: Should I dance?<P>I am new here, and I hope that this is the correct place to post this type of question. I have been told that to watch me it is obvious that I have a passion like no other for ballet and that it shows as I dance. It is an obsession; I dance when I am at home in my ******* and living room for two to three hours a day. My problem is I am had many obstacles that have stood in my way. For the past five years I have been anorexic, though I do not blame ballet or my teachers in any way. I was down to deadly weights this time last year. What kept be alive was knowing that I had ballet. I know I would have died if I didn't have ballet to grab onto. Because of this in May I dislocated my knee, then I did it again on my other knee in the beginning of October. What happens when you get down to the weights I was at it begin to eat the major muscle of the body, which include the muscles above and to the sides of the knee that holds it in place. In physical therapy I have rebuilt these major muscles. My best friend, whom I have grown up with in my dance classes, told me that I shouldn't go back to ballet, for I have put my body through so much in the last year with rebounding from being sixty-six pounds. I have very much loved my teacher, whom I have had for fifteen years, but I wanted to change studio because she was going more towards the modern and lyrical, which was not what I wanted, but after my knees I had kind of changed my mind and went to see her. She told me that she didn't want to take me back. I had worked so hard to get over my eating disorder so that I could dance. Her refusing me hurt, but I thought that I could handle it, but I was pushing my feelings, all feelings, away from me. When I saw the movie Billy Elliot, it all came rushing back to me. At the mention of dance and overcoming obstacles to dance, I burst into tears. I have begun to dance in my living room and ******* again with no troubles. No one really understands the passion that I have for dancing. I hope I can relay the feelings that I have for it.<P>Thank you,<BR>Ceria Caldwell


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 Post subject: Re: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2000 4:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 4725
Location: Australia
well, ceria, i think other people DO understand your passion. in fact, i think that i, and others, share it...i hope you don't mind my suggesting that?<P>because of course, without knowing you, i really can't know...but i know that *I* had an overwhelming passion for ballet....<P>....it cannot be healthily denied, that's for sure - but at the same time, dance is an expression of health: the healthy body is strong enough, coordinated enough, safe enough, to move in, to move with....so you need your health to be able to honour the dance you love. Image<P>it sounds very sad for you, that your old teacher didn't want to continue with you - but you don't give her reason, and, in truth, SHE may not have given you her real reasons...who knows? - i certainly don't! <P>for example, she MAY be making that decison because she thinks its best FOR YOU...and then, too, she has to take responsibility for her own feelings. perhaps your weight issue frightened her? only you might be able to guess at the answers to these questions - which might be completely the wrong questions! on the internet, we can often only guess at what might be the right things to say...<P>the one thing i am sure it is OK to say, is that a passion for dance is very understandable (to US, anyway!), and is not something you should deny yourself - but when we are in less than ideal health, we also have to be careful with our bodies. i know this myself, for a number of reasons...and one of the reasons i have some health problems NOW, is because i WAS too thin, for too long, starving myself when i was your age - for ballet....so i know what THAT's like....and now i know what damage it did, that i was never aware of at the time....<P>you sound like you are understanding that your past eating behaviour has dangerous consequences, for yourself and for your dance...<P>there is an excellent site, where you might find not only good advice, but also other people to talk to, like us, who share some of your feelings..<BR> <A HREF="http://www.something-fishy.org/" TARGET=_blank>http://www.something-fishy.org/</A> <P>i recommend it highly - but i hope you won't leave US too soon! we've just met.... Image<P>

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 Post subject: Re: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2000 6:24 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Hello Ceria:<P>Grace has given you a great deal of excellent advice, and I agree with it completely. <P>While I was certainly very slender (and to some extent still am) when I was dancing, I was never anorexic. But, I was addicted. I was addicted to dance, so I know of the passion of which you speak.<P> There are many kinds of addictions. I was also addicted to being "tired" most all the time. When I wasn't tired, I felt as if I hadn't accomplished anything that day. <P>While I was very careful about what I ate, I also realized that a body that is called upon for as much effort as dance needs, that body MUST have fuel. <P>Another addiction that I noticed is the what I call the addiction of "adding on". If three hours of ballet a day is great, then 6 hours must be better. If 32 changements are good then 64 is twice as good. While I was always careful of my students, I wasn't always careful of myself. At some point we need to step back and try to observe what is happening. That 64 is not twice as good as 32. 64 can begin to be destructive.<P>If I were you, I would follow the advice of a doctor and therapist, and keep a watchful eye before stepping back again into destructive patterns. If the doctor and the therapist agree, then perhaps slowly - very slowly - return to a single ballet class. <P>And, every once in a while step back and look at what's happening. And, keep checking back with the doctor and the therapist - use them as objective observers of what is happening to you. We all need to have objective observers in our lives.<P>And, lots of luck to you. Let us know what is happening...we are all interested.


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 Post subject: Re: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Thu Jan 04, 2001 10:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 73
Location: Canberra, Australia
This is tricky Ceria - and Grace and Basheva have given you some great advice to which I would like to add a couple of thoughts. I'm a recovered (?) anorexic, hauling myself, like you, back from near death. I didn't get that way through dance but I had always had a passion to dance. I think that dance is the ultimate form of self expression - especially for people who use their bodies as a primary means of self expression. I had an agreement witha doctor that I could fulfil my dream of taking up ballet when I reached a certain goal weight and that I would stop if I dropped below that weight. I have no intention of stopping dancing so it motivates me to keep my weight up. It's still hard, but with a strong committment to that promise to yourself, it becomes possible.<P>Perhaps you should try a new studio and rethink you committment to dance as a committment to self expression and honouring your body. You'll have to be very sensitive to it (this is a concept which my be fauirly alien at the moment but was enormheplful to me) because as you clearlty know, it will be more prone to injury because of the muscle wasting that went on - mine certainly is.<P>I have to say though, that you need to see your dancing in a different way - for me it was easier, because I wasn't returning to an environment in which I had been so sick, so I could approach it with fresh eyes and make it part of my recovery. I guess what I'm thinking is that you should give it some time, to avoid relapse and you should discuss it with you doctor/therapist to put some sort of safety agreement in place. I'm not disounting how hard it is for you to be away from dance - believe me. I just think that you need to carefully and honestly evaluate all the stuff that goes with it. I wish you the very best of luck and would love to hear about your progress. By the way, stand up to the people who tell you that ballet is a crazy way to try to recover!!! (plenty of people looked at me as though I was actually trying to cause a relapse when I told them I was taking up ballet - I proved them wrong and I'm sure you can too).<BR>Danni


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 Post subject: Re: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2001 6:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
That's really great insight, Danni - insight that could only come from someone who has "been there".<P>When I returned last spring to ballet class after being away for three years due to a non-dance injury, I really didn't want to go back to it in the same manner. I didn't want to get addicted again (if one class is great - then 10 is better syndrome), so I told myself "ballet class isn't the meal - it's the dessert".<P>It's almost a year now and just this morning at 10 a.m. I am going to ballet class - it is a second one of the week. I have waited almost a year before adding another class to my one class a week schedule. I am still being careful not to get on the more-classes-are-better treadmill.


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 Post subject: Re: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 73
Location: Canberra, Australia
That's great - it takes a lot of discipline doesn't it - especially in an art that says in many ways that you need to be obsessed to be serious (many martial arts are like that too in my experience). I SO know what you mean by the adding on syndrome! One catch phrase I like to remember is 'It's perfectly OK to do less than you are humanly capable of doing'. Sometimes I have to keep repeating over and over it but it works! <BR>Best wishes, Danni


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 Post subject: Re: A Question For Other Passionate Ballet Dancers
PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2001 9:36 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 2
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
I am sorry it has taken so long to get back here. I have taken everything all three of you have said into great consideration. Before I originally went back to my instructor I had my doctor's note from my knee doctor and my therapist were in complete agreement that it would be best if I went back. I finally decided to call another studio that is known for their ability to work with dancers that have had and are struggling with eating disorders. It is a very high-standing studio that works with Russian technique. I was very honest with her about my past with anorexia and my dislocated knees. I was fully expecting her to tell me much of what my ballet teacher told me - that she understands that I would like to dance, but she thinks it would be best for my knees if I didn't. I start tomorrow afternoon. I am quite ready to get out of my ******* and living room. I will take it easy and not rush into it. I am starting at three times a week. I am going to see what I feel like in one month and if I feel, deep inside, that it is too much I will cut it back to once a week. The instructor was a dietician for eating disorder patients for ten years then decided to open the dance studio, so she knows what to look for if it becomes overwhelming and I don't tell someone or change it myself. This must work. I appreciate the comments that everyone has left.<P>Ceria


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