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How much is it about the body?


Flora
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I suspect that it is the overall shape or silhouette that the teacher was talking about. Many ballerinas seem to be very flat chested (I doubt that some of them would even need to wear a bra outside the studio) but there are one or two that I can think of who are quite well endowed.

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Thank you Harwell

But what do you mean by physique.

My dd is busty so would it be that you think.

The size of bust may have something to do with it, but there are exceptions to every rule! However, it could be something in the leg line - sometimes the way the muscles sit on the thigh into the knee, sometimes the structure just below the knee into calf or the ankle. The set of shoulders, the breadth of rib cage, length of torso - this list is endless and often hard to define but you know it when you see it. Some things in isolation are fine but when added to something else, the whole is not classical. I know a beautiful dancer who is at a top MT school, a beautiful physique, legs long and thin with lovely muscle tone but she would never make a ballet dancer because there is something 'odd' with the shape of her lower legs - can't really define it, it just is not classical and looks more pronounced in a tutu. If I tied to explain it to a non dancer they would think I was mad, a dancer would spot it straight away.

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Thank you for posting that clip again aballetlife, it is very inspiring :)

 

Harwel, would the student you're referring to still be able to dance in a smaller classical company such as Vienna Festival Ballet where I've witnessed some more unusual bodies? Could it be possible that there might still be smaller touring ballet companies that would take these talented dancers, rather than the more obvious top companies?

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Thank you Harwell

But what do you mean by physique.

My dd is busty so would it be that you think.

 

Pointyfeet, I wonder if Elmhurst Assoc. might be willing to be more specific for you. Their opinion is obviously going to be a large consideration in how your Dd sees her dance future and it may well be that she just isn't right for their programme? Up until last year ENB had a very busty Spanish dancer in the company, but she was trained in Madrid I believe.

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I think I have mentioned before that DS was once taught by a Russian trained dancer who went to one of the good schools (not Vaganova or Bolshoi and I'm afraid i don't know enough to recall which other one it was) and she said that of 25 students who started with her aged 10/11 only 5 graduated at 18. I presume the rest were either assessed out or chose to pursue other careers. So RBS percentage from yr 7 getting through to graduation is perhaps not that uncommon for any school which remains selective throughout the years, and therefore not necessarily a reflection on their training quality or predictive powers....!

 

in terms of physique I get the impression schools/companies are unnecessarily prescriptive although I must admit I don't watch a lot of ballet to know if the companies are becoming ever more uniform. I do know DS trained with a stunning dancer who struggled to get a place anywhere post 18 as she (in DS's words) has 'legs like a man'. He agreed with me that this makes her incredibly athletic, with wonderful strength and technique and she also has a radiant personality, but the general consensus was that she wasn't really built for classical ballet. As an audience member I feel quite deprived and insulted that I may never see a dancer like her on stage because the aesthetic is so narrow. But I am equally insulted that anyone should imagine I want to see clothes modelled by people who universally have the dimensions of a Barbie doll, (no matter how normal it is for them). Ballet is no different really to many other areas of life - we are constantly told that we 'the consumer' demand x, y, z (apples of identical size and blemish free, models who look like famine victims, a new kitchen/car every year blah blah...). I'm never quite sure which consumers they ask because it clearly isn't ever me or anyone I know....

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There is actually quite a lot of variety in the companies. In particular, there are quite a few short, stockier ballerinas and some with very muscular legs. However, very many of the ballerinas are narrow framed, with long legs which do not have very prominent muscles. In Russia, shorter, stockier dancers traditionally took the soubrette roles; they would not have been cast in roles such as Odette/Odile. This happens/happened to some extent in the RB too. Laura Morera and, before her, Darcey's contemporary, Deborah Bull, were not or were rarely (perhaps only when someone was injured at short notice) cast in the big classical roles. DB mentions this in the book which she co-wrote with Luke Jennings; she tended to be cast as the bad girl, harlot etc.

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Aileen, your comment about shorter, stockier dancers usually taking the soubrette roles accords with DD's teacher's comment that as a short dancer with a more stocky frame, she knew that despite her RBS training she would never be first or even sixth choice to play the great classical roles. This was 35+ years ago, so things haven't changed much in the classical ballet company world.

 

She also said however that she didn't think this was entirely to do with shape and aesthetics, as often the soubrette roles required fabulous ballon or fast petite batterie, which is often (she believes) easier for shorter, more compact and muscled dancers. Obviously that's only her opinion but given DD's difficulty with some petite batterie work as she finds it difficult to get her legs where they need to be as fast as they need to get there, compared to the comparative ease with which her shorter-legged friends do the same exercise, it could well be true.

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Harwel, would the student you're referring to still be able to dance in a smaller classical company such as Vienna Festival Ballet where I've witnessed some more unusual bodies? Could it be possible that there might still be smaller touring ballet companies that would take these talented dancers, rather than the more obvious top companies?

Perhaps, more chance of it.

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There is actually quite a lot of variety in the companies. In particular, there are quite a few short, stockier ballerinas and some with very muscular legs. However, very many of the ballerinas are narrow framed, with long legs which do not have very prominent muscles. In Russia, shorter, stockier dancers traditionally took the soubrette roles; they would not have been cast in roles such as Odette/Odile. This happens/happened to some extent in the RB too.

Interestingly, Natalia Osioova was classed as a soubrette dancer at the Bolshoi (short and stocky relative to the usual tall willowy Russian dancers? - with a huge jump) but this doesn't appear to be the case at RB where she is performing a variety of principal roles.

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That's right and she left the Bolshoi for that reason. She came to the RB as a star and no doubt she made it clear before she joined that she expected to be cast in all the leading classical roles (which is fair enough, although I personally was not convinced by her O/O and SPF).

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