Theatre Thursdays: Body Image in Ballet

A friend of mine who is a dancer posted this article on facebook and in light of Lady Saika’s post on ballet last week I thought it was particularly appropriate to share here:

New Artistic Director of English National Ballet Aims to “Stamp Out” Anorexia in Ballet

Tamara Rojo seems to have made it her mission to change the perception of beauty in the Ballet world and thereby make a safer environment in which dancers can carry out their profession. I think this is wonderful but even in reading the article and seeing what an apparently full-figured woman looks like in the ballet world it’s clear that what is considered thin by an audience’s perspective and what is considered thin by a dancer’s perspective are two vastly different conceptions.

The article mentions that Rojo has been compared to a famous dancer, Dame Margot Fonteyn:

It is in these images that we can really see the kind of pressure these dancers are under. Think about it, these two women are examples of “heavy” dancers. Imagine how great the pressure is to be thin when a woman of this size is the standard for overweight.

Dancing ballet is some of the most physically strenuous activity imaginable and the fact that dancers, particularly women but of course the men are affected too, have to go to such dramatic lengths to have what many consider to be the “right” body for the art form is not just sad, it’s dangerous.

I applaud Miss Rojo for her advocacy. I truly hope that she can help create a Ballet world where eating disorders are not the norm; where I won’t see status updates from my dancer friends along the lines of “Photoshoot coming up; no more eating for the next week”; and where young boys and girls can go to the Ballet and be inspired by powerful, healthy dancers rather than thin, frail waifs.

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