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Subject: "dancers, smoking, energy" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2588
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lara

26-03-02, 08:06 PM (GMT)
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"dancers, smoking, energy"
 
   I was reading with interest the thread on injuries in the RB and Katherine Kaner's remark -

"Bournonville has a thousand jumps and beats that are no longer performed, because people NO LONGER HAVE THE ENERGY. I have often been told by dancers that they do not want to do Bournonville, because it is "too goddam hard"."

- caught my eye.

I know a lot of dancers smoke, for whatever reasons, but I was wondering what effect that had on their stamina and engery. Most high performance athletes don't smoke because it reduces their lung capacity and stamina.

Wouldn't it make sense for dancers NOT to smoke, to give them the highest level of cardiac fitness possible, better use of oxygen, etc.?

Have the detrimental effects of smoking even been addressed by dancers and their health care professionals and/or by company management?


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: dancers, smoking, energy Jonathan S 27-03-02 1
     RE: dancers, smoking, energy lara 28-03-02 4
  RE: dancers, smoking, energy Ted 27-03-02 2
     RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 27-03-02 3
         RE: dancers, smoking, energy Richard Jones 28-03-02 5
             RE: dancers, smoking, energy Carly Gillies 28-03-02 6
                 RE: dancers, smoking, energy Flight 28-03-02 7
                     RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 28-03-02 8
                         RE: dancers, smoking, energy Flight 29-03-02 9
                             RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 29-03-02 10
                 RE: dancers, smoking, energy trogadmin 02-04-02 11
                     RE: dancers, smoking, energy Jonathan S 02-04-02 12
                         RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 02-04-02 13
                             RE: dancers, smoking, energy Robert 03-04-02 14
                             RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 03-04-02 15
                             RE: dancers, smoking, energy Carly Gillies 04-04-02 16
         RE: dancers, smoking, energy felursus 06-04-02 17
             RE: dancers, smoking, energy Robert 08-04-02 18
             RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 08-04-02 19
                 RE: dancers, smoking, energy Jonathan S 08-04-02 20
                     RE: dancers, smoking, energy alison 10-04-02 21
                     RE: dancers, smoking, energy AEHandley 10-04-02 22
                         RE: dancers, smoking, energy alison 11-04-02 23

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Jonathan S

27-03-02, 00:21 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 27-03-02 AT 00:39 AM (GMT)

Probably. If you're interested in the research, the SMART database, has many articles to do with smoking & sports medicine - just type 'smoking' into the 'free search' page.

One of my students was going to do a dissertation on this very subject - the only problem was, it is very difficult to persuade someone to give up smoking for the sake of an experiment to see what the before/after effects are. On the other hand, it is unethical to encourage a control group to continue smoking throughout the course of the experiment, when one should really tell them to stop.

I doubt that companies can be that bothered - injury is a much more immediate problem, whereas smoking kills people at an age when they've probably stopped dancing and are no longer a liability. What's more, all smokers know that they're stupid to smoke - if advice from health professionals made any difference, none of us would smoke any more.

One opera house I worked for, however, did have a free drying-out programme for musicians in the orchestra. Make of that what you will...



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lara

28-03-02, 01:01 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #1
 
  
>I doubt that companies can be
>that bothered - injury is
>a much more immediate problem,
>whereas smoking kills people at
>an age when they've probably
>stopped dancing and are no
>longer a liability.

I was thinking more that not smoking would make better dancers and that companies would be interested in that immediate effect. You are right that they probably don't care about what happens after they stop dancing.

And what DO dancers do when they can no longer dance. Not the stars or principals, but what about that soloists that can't dance any longer....what do they do.

Curious I am...


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Ted

27-03-02, 01:43 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #0
 
   I remember reading it somewhere a long time ago that Makarova is a chain smoker. If that report was true, I just wonder if she would have been a greater ballerina with better fouettes had she been a non-smoker.


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AEHandley

27-03-02, 04:26 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #2
 
   Well, some of the greatest wind players of the last century have smoked like chimneys as well. No, I don't know how either they or dancers do it, but it clearly can be done!


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Richard Jones

28-03-02, 08:46 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #3
 
   I have always been amazed to find how many actors and dancers smoke; I've also heard it said about opera singers as well (chorus members at least). It seems to be part of theatre-land custom. Some will remember that Roy Castle, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer, attributed to passive smoking in theatre dressing rooms throughout his career. Before he died, he undertook a well-publicised tour to highlight the dangers of smoking.

Smoking undeniably cuts one's aerobic capacity (apart from having other well-known effects). I'm sure I remember reading once that dancers are not always as aerobically fit as they might be - certainly those who smoke are not doing themselves any favours. Will Ross Stretton's "new levels of fitness" campaign include any awareness on the effects of smoking? We shall see!


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Carly Gillies

28-03-02, 09:03 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #5
 
  
Wouldn't it make sense for dancers

>NOT to smoke, to give

>them the highest level of

>cardiac fitness possible, better use

>of oxygen, etc.?


It's hard to see how it wouldn't make sense.

Every premature death caused by smoking is another tragedy.
However, the argument's not as simple as stamina levels now, or morbidity or early death sometime in the future (or perhaps not - it's always a gamble)

There are two advantages to smoking cigarettes that have to be taken into account.
Firstly smoking facilitates a degree of social bonding, particularly among groups of people sharing the same pressures and anxieties.
And secondly smoking helps maintain low body fat.

It's much easier to go without breakfast lunch and tea if you're a smoker.

These have to be among the reasons so many dancers smoke.

Of course these are outweighed by all the disadvantages, but you don't see those when you're 16 or 20 or even 30.

I doubt Makarova would have been a better dancer if she hadn't smoked, but she wouldn't have been so bone thin.
I remember when she first came to this country she seemed to be all angles compared with, for instance, Fonteyn's soft lines.

>

>Have the detrimental effects of smoking

>even been addressed by dancers

>and their health care professionals

>and/or by company management?

Even if they were I suspect it would be very difficult to change what is essentially a choice of behaviour, particularly when other pressures about body shape are competing. Perhaps not impossible though, and it would be nice to think that dancers got far more help and advice with diet and health than it appears that they do.



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Flight

28-03-02, 05:10 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #6
 
   Sylvie Guillem once said, after being asked more or less the same question, that dancers were NOT athletes. I am not meaning to encourage smoking; it is just a statement.


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AEHandley

28-03-02, 06:28 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #7
 
   Eh? So she's loopy as well as stroppy? Most dancers would disagree here (or at least most dancers make a big song and dance about the level of fitness that they need/have on top of their artistic feats) and how anyone can maintain that a job which requires peak physical conditioning isn't athletic I don't know.


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Flight

29-03-02, 07:18 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #8
 
   LAST EDITED ON 29-03-02 AT 07:19 AM (GMT)

Well. Personally, if I were her I would look upon myself as an artist. In fact, I would look upon myself as A DANCER (despite all the comments earlier about her being a gymnast). And as a dance student myself, I find that it is always important to think of oneself as a dancer (grunts in the studio are not attractive, but may be acceptable to an athlete!)


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AEHandley

29-03-02, 10:36 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #9
 
   >LAST EDITED ON 29-03-02
>AT 07:19AM (GMT)

>
>Well. Personally, if I were her
>I would look upon myself
>as an artist. In fact,
>I would look upon myself
>as A DANCER (despite all
>the comments earlier about her
>being a gymnast). And as
>a dance student myself, I
>find that it is always
>important to think of oneself
>as a dancer (grunts in
>the studio are not attractive,
>but may be acceptable to
>an athlete!)

Well yes, of course I know what you mean, but the physical side is as demanding as that for an athlete - but you aren't allowed to grunt and grimace!



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trogadmin

02-04-02, 11:48 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #6
 
   LAST EDITED ON 02-04-02 AT 01:29 PM (GMT)

>Firstly smoking facilitates a degree of social bonding, particularly among groups of people sharing the same
>pressures and anxieties.

I concur with this statement...

>And secondly smoking helps maintain low body fat.

However I suggest that this statement is complete twaddle! Check on any street and you will see lots of truely obese people puffing away. When I finally gave up the dreaded weed back in 1989 (after 15 year of enjoying it), I lost loads of weight. I was able to exercise to greater effect, and the lard came off.

I would suggest that since (most) dancers are young and smoking is a very "young" thing to do, that is the sole reason that they start to smoke. Peer group pressure is very powerful influence too. With age comes some degree of wisdom (supposedly) and as your body starts to deteriotate with age (sadly we only get ONE body each), you start to look after it more carefully. When I was in my 20's, and I still had that vaguely perfect body, I too used to abuse it, on the fags, on the bottle and various recreational chemicals.

These days I abuse my body in different ways, pushing it through regular ballet classes and gym workouts. It complains, indicating it's displeasure with aches and pains, but I ignore them. The mind knows that this abuse is actually doing the body some good. Someone's bye-line summed it up best "My body is a temple - please remove your shoes before entering."

"Youth is wasted on the young" said George Bernard Shaw or Mark Twain, depending on which reference you cite. While I have always thought this statement very patronising it does have an element of truth.


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Jonathan S

02-04-02, 12:54 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #11
 
   >"Youth is wasted on the young"
>said George Bernard Shaw or
>Mark Twain, depending on which
>reference you site. While
>I have always thought this
>statement very patronising it does
>have an element of truth.

Or as the old French proverb has it:

" si la jeunesse savait,
si la vieillesse pouvait."



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AEHandley

02-04-02, 01:10 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #12
 
   Love it! Hope I'm not too vieille to remember it...


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Robert

03-04-02, 08:29 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #13
 
   If you are unluky enough to go to hospital with heart trouble, the first thing they ask is did you smoke, even if you say 'forty years ago' they still write down 'smoker' and look down their noses at you! It is like the sins of youth.


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AEHandley

03-04-02, 08:58 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #14
 
   Actually if you have to see a doctor about ANYTHING it's one of the first questions they ask (particularly if you're a female of childbearing age when they even ask you if your husband has ever smoked!) - talking to a friend with Hodgkin's he got the distinct impression that if he'd had to say "yes" to that question he'd have been given rather different priority. There's a big moral issue here - possibly a bit TOO big for even ballet.co (although what the heck if we're talking about politics and TV...)


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Carly Gillies

04-04-02, 04:33 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #15
 
   Well Trog, When I chucked the ciggies I put on 1/2 a stone. ButI doubt either of our personal experiences proves anything.
Afraid I've spoken to too many teenage girl smokers who wont quit because of their belief that the weight will pile on. Certainly these same skinny teenagers are probably the same fat thirty-somethings seen puffing away on street corners 20 years later. It's amazing what the approach of forty does for smoking habits, waistlines and gym profits!
And Robert, if a doctor asks about the smoking habits of someone with heart disease (or chronic bronchitis etc etc) it may just be because the best management plan might be advice on giving up.
its pretty upsetting looking after someone dying a decade or two prematurely and unnecesarily, believe me.
(I'm not denying that a little bit of health fascism does still creep in from time to time, but personally I gave up looking down my nose years ago - It makes you go all cross-eyed!)


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felursus

06-04-02, 09:29 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #3
 
   I remember going backstage to see Beriosova once - she was chewing gum and smoking at the same time - not exactly the image of a classical dancer!

Actually, I suspect many of the women smoke to keep their appetite suppressed. I just saw a programme about Olga Korbut, the Russian gymnast, and she said that she used to smoke a lot in order to stave off hunger, as she had to maintain the body of a child in order to compete in gymnastics.

In terms of cessations: my husband is a choral singer who used to smoke about 1/2 pack per day. I finally got him to quit, and he said he could never have sung as well before quitting, as he didn't have the lung capacity. He said it took a good 6 months to begin to feel the benefit of quitting.


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Robert

08-04-02, 03:48 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #17
 
   In hospital last year I noticed the theatrical old gent in the oposite bed kept nipping out for a smoke continuously. I discovered he was a young 83 and had worked at Saddlers Wells, it made my stay much happier, we remembered the same ballets and the dancers. He remembered Cranko and Macmillan doing the choreography for ballets, and like me remembered, Harlequin in April. I just guessed that if he was theatrical, and still smoked he must be a surviver from the opera or ballet world. He is not too well but it is not anything to do with the fags.(for Lara and other Americans, I mean cigarettes, he was hetrosexual!)


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AEHandley

08-04-02, 10:28 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #17
 
   >Actually, I suspect many of the
>women smoke to keep their
>appetite suppressed.

Well-known phenomenon, yes.


>In terms of cessations: my husband
>is a choral singer who
>used to smoke about 1/2
>pack per day. I
>finally got him to quit,
>and he said he could
>never have sung as well
>before quitting, as he didn't
>have the lung capacity.
>He said it took a
>good 6 months to begin
>to feel the benefit of
>quitting.

Similarly I met a clarinettist a few yrs back who had to give up smoking in order to pass her grade 8 - she couldn't make it through the mozart concerto till she'd cleared her lungs for a few months!



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Jonathan S

08-04-02, 10:58 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #19
 
   >Similarly I met a clarinettist a
>few yrs back who had
>to give up smoking in
>order to pass her grade
>8 - she couldn't make
>it through the mozart concerto
>till she'd cleared her lungs
>for a few months!

Maybe I should take up the clarinet. I once signed up to do a Swimathon (5,000 metres), thinking that I wouldn't possibly have the stamina to do it unless I gave up smoking. As it turned out, I managed to smoke just as much as I always did, and increase my stamina, and do the Swimathon. The only difference was, after two hours a night in a swimming pool, I was gasping for a cigarette afterwards, so smoked more in the evenings.


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alison

10-04-02, 06:14 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #20
 
   Not that I smoked in the first place, but I tried the clarinet and found it didn't help. Mind you, an asthmatic friend used to play the trombone, I think it was, and claimed it was wonderful for increasing her lung capacity! Don't like to think what the neighbours must have thought, though ...


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AEHandley

10-04-02, 07:01 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #20
 
   Tee hee... you have to remember us girlies aren't really built for clarinet playing anyway (a very thick neck appears to be a prerequisite for a really good tone)


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alison

11-04-02, 01:21 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: dancers, smoking, energy"
In response to message #22
 
   Oh really? So that's my excuse for all the squeaks, is it? I thought it was wrong breathing


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