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Subject: "Thinness and ballet." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Eugene Merrett

23-06-00, 10:02 PM (GMT)
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"Thinness and ballet."
 
   You have probably heared about the government decision to moniter the size of woman on TV because they are too thin. I take the view that this is grossly impractical, a blatent example of the nanny state and not compatable with freedom of speech.

However if TV is to be monitored, what about ballet. Surely ballet, after modelling, is the worst example of using woman who are far too thin. The person I immediatelely had in mind was Zahkarova. But there are other examples such Julie Kent, the entire New York City Ballet etc. In fact I think ballet dancers are much thinner then they really look - this includes are own "too titty" and "bummy" english dancers . It is the costume and the lighting that makes them look heavier then they really are.

I hear some very contradictory explanations for the thinness of these dancers. Some say they eat like "locusts" other say they are starved to perfection. I think the later is probably closer to the truth.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Thinness and ballet. Karen 27-06-00 1
  RE: Thinness and ballet. Caz 27-06-00 2
     RE: Thinness and ballet. Eugene Merrett 27-06-00 3
         RE: Thinness and ballet. Caz 27-06-00 4
             RE: Thinness and ballet. alison 28-06-00 5
                 RE: Thinness and ballet. Caz 28-06-00 7
             Locust appetite Stephanie Wragg 28-06-00 6
                 RE: Locust appetite Anneliese 28-06-00 8
                     RE: Locust appetite Caz 29-06-00 9
  RE: Thinness and ballet. Bruce Madmin 29-06-00 10

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Karen

27-06-00, 06:28 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #0
 
   Excessive thinness has always been a problem in fields such as ballet, gymnastics and figure skating. I know of several people who starved themselves thin - to the approval of their directors - but who ruined their health (at least one person I know who was bulimic ruined her kidneys). There was a well-known case of a ballet student in London about 20 years ago now, who had been in and out of hospital because of anorexia. The MD warned her mother that if she didn't recover she would be dead within a month. Her mother told this to the principal ballet teacher whose classes her daughter attended, and he, being concerned for the young dancer's well-being, not only refused to let her attend classes but also warned other ballet teachers not to let her attend class. I never found out what happened. Then there is a famous case at a US ballet company, where a dancer was at one time told to lose about 5 lbs, but she became anorexic and proceded to lose much more. At her annual assessment she was told, in writing, to gain some weight, but she was unable to do so and died of the effects of her anorexia. Her mother blamed the ballet company. Now, because of fear of lawsuits, companies here are afraid to tell any dancer that he/she needs to lose weight. They are advised to see a nutritionist instead.

Speaking of very thin dancers: the thinnest one I can think of is Wendy Whelan, who has the body-image the SAB students would like to acquire. As thin, but not as obviously muscular, is Helene Alexepoulos (one wonders how she managed to carry twins to term). Ross Stretton's wife, Valmai, is another extremely thin dancer. Then there is Rosemary Dunleavy, currently ballet mistress with the NYCB, who reportedly is the only person Balanchine ever told to GAIN weight. And speaking of Balanchine - he bears a lot of responsibility for the ultra thinness of modern dancers: he would take roles away from dancers he didn't think thin enough. Julie Kent is far from the thinnest person around in ABT. Actually, recently I attended an ABT open rehearsal, and Julie was rehearsing the "Manon" pas-de-deux (bedroom). Standing on the stage to coach her was Georgina Parkinson - who, fully clothed, managed to make Julie look almost fat. The funny thing is that Georgina was never that thin when she was dancing!


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Caz

27-06-00, 01:36 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #0
 
   Why does all of this give me the feeling the government contains mainly overweight women...

Obviously so far as ballet goes there are people who will go to extremes when they think they need to lose weight, but anorexia is a clinical condition can affect anyone, not just dancers or gymnasts. Most dancers have their own ideal weight balancing the strength needed to defy gravity with the weight that strength can lift. A few pounds extra can make a whole load of difference... well it does to me anyway!

Saying that though it's funny how one minute we're all being warned of the dire consequences of obseity and how we're all getting to be overweight and the next the government is worried we're all about to hit starvation diets. Isn't it lovely that they care so much about us all... ack!


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Eugene Merrett

27-06-00, 03:37 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #2
 
   When I have bumped into dancers in New York I am stunned at how thin they were. It was really quite unsettling. However on stage the same dancers did not seem so thin so there are definitely "optical pounds" that are added on to dancers on stage. Part of the reason is that dancers mostly wear white on stage. It might be different if they wore black!

What I find a bit troublesome is the contradictory stories I hear about dancers. One former columnist on this web site said that dancers "eat like locusts". Maybe I miss read that but I doubt it.

I would particularly like to hear from dancers and ex dancers as well as student as to what the truth is.

But I do feel a bit guilty in favouring so thin dancers.


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Caz

27-06-00, 04:29 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #3
 
   Yeah, but dance is a visual, even voyeuristic, art. I don't s'pose there are many people who desperately want to go and see flabby, overweight dancers. Any more than you go to listen to scratchy-voiced singers.

Well, you wanted to hear from dance students so here's my twopennyworth. I had a bag of crisps this morning and some cake at lunchtime... I know for a start that my elevation in class this afternoon is going to be worse than usual 'coz I'll be feeling all heavy and bloaty - wah.

As to eating like locusts - well Sylvie Guillem claims to and it's not all that surprising 'coz she must work it all off pretty fast. And I know over the summer when I've no classes I'm going to have to be more careful about what I eat than I am at the moment when I'm burning it all off nice and fast... eep. :-/


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alison

28-06-00, 01:02 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #4
 
   >Yeah, but dance is a visual,
>even voyeuristic, art. I don't
>s'pose there are many people
>who desperately want to go
>and see flabby, overweight dancers.
>Any more than you go
>to listen to scratchy-voiced singers.
>
Depends who the dancers are - I don't see people avoiding the Mark Morris company at the Coliseum! Anyway, flabbiness doesn't relate directly to dancing ability in the same way that having a scratchy voice does to singing ability.


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Caz

28-06-00, 03:30 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #5
 
   >>Anyway, flabbiness
>doesn't relate directly to dancing
>ability in the same way
>that having a scratchy voice
>does to singing ability.

Hmm... I'd disagree with that so far as classical ballet goes...



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Stephanie Wragg

28-06-00, 03:13 PM (GMT)
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6. "Locust appetite"
In response to message #4
 
  
>As to eating like locusts -
>well Sylvie Guillem claims to
>and it's not all that
>surprising 'coz she must work
>it all off pretty fast. ***I like this locust analogy, it conjures interesting visual images....However, I think there might be a problem in how people perceive how much locusts eat...

I am sure some dancers and non-dancers think that a yoghurt and a cup of tea for lunch is eating like a locust...it's all relative!!!


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Anneliese

28-06-00, 09:35 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Locust appetite"
In response to message #6
 
   Deborah Bull's book contains a photo from an article in "Jackie" some 20 years ago. I remember reading it (yes, my dad used to pick up the radio times, new scientist and jackie at the newsagent each week....) and she and Nicolah Tranah said that they all ate like horses - they wouldn't be able to dance if they didn't replenish their energy supplies properly! HOWEVER I bet Gelsey Kirkland isn't the only dancer to have used cocaine to get through a performance rather than carbohydrate... ("Dancing on my grave" was a very shocking book).

Eugene, the stage and the camera will put half a stone on people regardless of what colour they're wearing!


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Caz

29-06-00, 08:24 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Locust appetite"
In response to message #8
 
  
>Eugene, the stage and the camera
>will put half a stone
>on people regardless of what
>colour they're wearing!

Plus onstage you only see dancers next to other dancers so they look bigger. My boyfriend thought Irek Mukhamedov was about 6' 'til he saw him offstage and discovered he's not much taller than me.



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Bruce Madmin

29-06-00, 08:26 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Thinness and ballet."
In response to message #0
 
   As if on que...

Scandal of Britain's ballet schools. 15-year study says young dancers are pressured to become anorexic. By Sarah Hall:
www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,337635,00.html
(you need to copy and paste the URL)


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