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The Ideal Dancing Body Essay

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Monica Mason, director of The Royal Ballet 2002 – 2012, has said that ‘any director who claims to have never worked with an anorexic performer is lying’ . An issue that has brought controversy and a lot of attention to the dance community is the on-going struggle of Eating Disorders (ED’s). It is a very straining illness that has unfortunate side effects for any individual, let alone a dancer whom needs high physical stamina. Because of the pressure and urgency for a thin Prima Ballerina, ED’s still remain hot in the headlines.
There is a massive idea that all dancers must be stick thin to please the audience, yet must have enough physical stamina and muscle strength to be able to dance for as long and hard as professionals do. The ideal dancing body was first established by George Balanchine, he was the co-founder of the American Ballet School. Balanchine insisted his female dancers be a minimum of 5’7” with a lean slender body. Having such an impact in the dance community his ideals stuck and have now moved on to create ‘The Balanchine Body’, which refers to women with ‘narrow hips, little or no fat deposits, long lean legs, a short slim torso, small breasts and delicate arms.’ Few people genetically fit this description, however from having his concept taught in a worldwide known dance school, it quickly spread to other companies and schools. Today, this ideal body is expected of all dancers.
With this ideal being spread around the dance community (audience included), mixed with dancers have to spend multiple hours daily staring at themselves in a mirror, it becomes very easy to compare yourself to others and how you “should” look. A dancer’s uniform consists of skin tight clothing that defines every aspect of your body, th...


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...unately not all dance schools and companies are ‘encouraging’ their dancers to have disordered eating. The Royal Ballet School is teaching their dancers about nutrition through their regular classes and through workshops with nutritionists, working with the Royal Ballet. The board of the company are saying that “they want to keep an eye” on their dancers for any signs of an ED, either progressing or continuing.
Not until recently had the media and health clinics become involved towards the issue of ED’s, to not only dancers but to society. It is clear that in the past the dance industry was not aware or caring how detrimental and unhealthy eating habits can be to their dancers. Many effects are attributed to discorded eating habits, and these effects are exaggerated in dancers as they participate in a lot of physical activity and must maintain high energy levels.



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