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Carlos Acosta interview in the Independent


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Rightly so - and some very well-articulated responses, backed by science, have been given. Well worth reading, for example

 

 https://www.instagram.com/ausdancersoverseas?igsh=eWVndXczbWU4Z3Rv

 

Sadly, vocational ballet training will  always follow a top-down, demand and supply model, so while such attitudes prevail, both overtly and covertly, schools will continue to promote these outdated and dangerous ‘ideals’. So sad that we simple seem unable to break free and such a wasted opportunity from someone with such huge influence over the UK ballet scene. 

 

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13 minutes ago, Colman said:

Which agenda is that?

To bring weight up at every opportunity and to sensationalise it. That’s not helping anyone. I don’t know why anyone would be under the impression that a newspaper has any other agenda than gaining readers and causing controversy. Acosta has done a lot for ballet and now he’s being reduced to one comment that was drawn out of him in a very unfair way. Shame on anyone that only talks about that. 

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No one is only talking about that but there are very many in the ballet establishments who wish to avoid talking about it at all. And this is why it perpetuates and the damage continues to be done. 
 

How is it ‘not helping anyone’? For one thing, it is helping my ex DD feel her experience is being validated. 

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4 minutes ago, Out-the-other-side said:

No one is only talking about that but there are very many in the ballet establishments who wish to avoid talking about it at all. And this is why it perpetuates and the damage continues to be done. 

They avoid talking about it because it’s sensationalised. It’s having the opposite effect of what people want. If you want change then it should be discussed in a manner that doesn’t silence people from their opinions. If anyone says anything at all about weight it’s immediately taken as a negative and turned into a story for social media. 

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4 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

They avoid talking about it because it’s sensationalised. It’s having the opposite effect of what people want. If you want change then it should be discussed in a manner that doesn’t silence people from their opinions. If anyone says anything at all about weight it’s immediately taken as a negative and turned into a story for social media. 


They avoid talking about it because it's such a tricky and sensitive subject for them to be objective about and because the Ballet World has no universally clear strategy and understanding for dealing with weight.

So no one wants to deal with a very important subject that needs attention. Because it ruins peoples lives.

No one can blame journalists for picking up on that.

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Just now, Out-the-other-side said:

These women and girls have almost certainly spent the entirety of their training enduring this in silence. We know many personally. I am the mother of one. How do you suggest the matter be discussed in order to effect meaningful and lasting change? 

 

It’s not just women and girls…So leaving sexism out of it would be a start. 
 

How do you suggest change happens? Do you entrust that to sensationalist journalism and cancel culture? From my academic research it most certainly has the opposite effect of what you’re looking for. 
 

 

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3 minutes ago, Ruby Foo said:


They avoid talking about it because it's such a tricky and sensitive subject for them to be objective about and because the Ballet World has no universally clear strategy and understanding for dealing with weight.

So no one wants to deal with a very important subject that needs attention. Because it ruins peoples lives.

No one can blame journalists for picking up on that.

The journalists want a story and one they know will get people biting and talking about. I don’t know if weight is such an important subject? I would say health is what’s important. Using the word health at least encompasses many aspects (physical and mental). The obsession with using the word weight is just for sensationalist purposes in my opinion. Society as a whole is obsessed with it and it sells. 

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1 minute ago, Ballet Saga said:

The journalists want a story and one they know will get people biting and talking about. I don’t know if weight is such an important subject? I would say health is what’s important. Using the word health at least encompasses many aspects (physical and mental). The obsession with using the word weight is just for sensationalist purposes in my opinion. Society as a whole is obsessed with it and it sells. 


If this is the case then why was my daughter weighed at the beginning and end of every term at vocational school? Why did I have to put her weight down for at least 3 summer school applications?

I don't remember a question  ' Is your daughter healthy?'

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4 minutes ago, Ruby Foo said:


If this is the case then why was my daughter weighed at the beginning and end of every term at vocational school? Why did I have to put her weight down for at least 3 summer school applications?

I don't remember a question  ' Is your daughter healthy?'

Weight can be a marker of health. Especially if there is a sudden drop in it. I’m sure other aspects of her health were observed (and by you as a parent). 
 

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Why do I know far too many adult dancers with a fragile relationship with ballet having returned decades after being discarded for not being sick enough (or being too tall, or too curvy)? Why was my son put aside because he was a little pot bellied when he was 12? (ironically, he’s exactly the boy you’ll want lifting your “healthy” dancers, being tall enough and strong enough.)

 

If health was the criteria, none of the above would have happened, would it? 
 

13 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

and cancel culture

Do please define that so we know what we’re talking about. 

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Principals, Directors, teachers are ambassadors for their craft and should make an honest, informative and positive impact with their words. They should not shirk from their responsibility in making the Ballet World a more healthy environment.

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I suggest change happens from the top down as that is the only way the training establishments will change - they exist to meet the demands of the companies and the preferences of the ADs. This is as it should be. But the demands need to change.

In our experience, which is all we are allowed to talk about on the forum, raising concerns with the school, quietly and unsensationally and through the appropriate channels had no positive effect. This is true for the many others we know who tried to bring about change. Sometimes, you have to shout to be heard. 


Maybe you see it as sensationalism because you have been untouched by it. I genuinely hope this is true for you and that you continue to see only the beauty of ballet. Trust me, the reality of what is done and said within the 4 walls of a vocational ballet school studio is frankly shocking but getting into discussions about that will get this thread closed down. 
 

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6 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

Weight can be a marker of health. Especially if there is a sudden drop in it. I’m sure other aspects of her health were observed (and by you as a parent). 
 

 
I am not the Ballet World. 
You were referring specifically to the words 'weight' as being a word that is used by journalists to sensationalise 

I am giving you evidence of the word 'weight' specifically used in the Ballet World to differentiate and define and judge.

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4 minutes ago, Colman said:

Why do I know far too many adult dancers with a fragile relationship with ballet having returned decades after being discarded for not being sick enough (or being too tall, or too curvy)? Why was my son put aside because he was a little pot bellied when he was 12? (ironically, he’s exactly the boy you’ll want lifting your “healthy” dancers, being tall enough and strong enough.)

 

If health was the criteria, none of the above would have happened, would it? 
 

Do please define that so we know what we’re talking about. 

I don’t know why you know that many dancers with a fragile relationship with ballet, and I don’t know why they have that fragile relationship with ballet. 
 

What do you mean your son was ‘put aside’? Was he told he had a pot belly or did you assume that was the reason? If he was told then obviously no one would condone that. 
 

Our society as a whole is obsessed with weight and being thin. Many people have a fragile relationship with food and their bodies which is nothing to do with ballet. I don’t see how anyone could deny that is true. 
 

Cancel culture is when a person or organisation is shamed (usually on social media) and/or has support from the public revoked because they’ve said or done something deemed socially unacceptable. It can very unfairly ruin people’s lives. I’m sure you’re aware of it. It reduces the person to merely one statement or act and journalists love it! It also reduces the issue that may have started the conversation. It becomes a sensationalist story that soon fades when a better one comes along. 

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11 minutes ago, Ruby Foo said:

Principals, Directors, teachers are ambassadors for their craft and should make an honest, informative and positive impact with their words. They should not shirk from their responsibility in making the Ballet World a more healthy environment.

Should they? I’m not saying they should or should not but you’re imparting a lot of responsibility onto them. What about the parents in all of this? What about society as a whole and its obsession with weight? Is that being targeted too? I would say the two are linked. Don’t you think? 
 

 

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6 minutes ago, Ruby Foo said:

 
I am not the Ballet World. 
You were referring specifically to the words 'weight' as being a word that is used by journalists to sensationalise 

I am giving you evidence of the word 'weight' specifically used in the Ballet World to differentiate and define and judge.

I don’t know what it’s evidence of to be honest. 

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13 minutes ago, Out-the-other-side said:

I suggest change happens from the top down as that is the only way the training establishments will change - they exist to meet the demands of the companies and the preferences of the ADs. This is as it should be. But the demands need to change.

In our experience, which is all we are allowed to talk about on the forum, raising concerns with the school, quietly and unsensationally and through the appropriate channels had no positive effect. This is true for the many others we know who tried to bring about change. Sometimes, you have to shout to be heard. 


Maybe you see it as sensationalism because you have been untouched by it. I genuinely hope this is true for you and that you continue to see only the beauty of ballet. Trust me, the reality of what is done and said within the 4 walls of a vocational ballet school studio is frankly shocking but getting into discussions about that will get this thread closed down. 
 

It’s sensationalism because that’s what it is and that’s what journalists do. That’s the whole point of journalism! 
 

I wonder if the schools sometimes would ever please the expectations of the parents? And I include myself in that. It’s very hard to judge appropriately when you’re emotionally involved. 
 

I have experience, yes. Things have been said to my son that I have not been happy with. It’s very difficult. I didn’t keep quiet about it and I’ve moved on and so has my son. 
 

I just think sometimes that people are unwilling to be honest with the reality of certain things (and I say that meaning not just ballet). Too often things are just a story for social media etc and they’re not meant to bring change. But people think they are and they get emotional about it. And that’s very unfair to people who have to deal with negative comments about them on social media. Too many people get too excited when something is said (like Acosta’s ‘words’). 

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Thin-ness in the ballet world and the real world bear absolutely no resemblance. My DD, who was a recovering anorexic at the time, was told, to her face, that she was too fat to get a job. In the real world, she is considered to be exceptionally thin. Same person, same body, different attitudes to weight. 
Some teachers dress up their prejudices with phrases such as lengthen your lines, some use the words weight and fat quite openly. Both equally toxic and damaging to girls standing in front of a mirror learning to hate their bodies. 

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3 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

Things have been said to my son that I have not been happy with. 

 

About his weight? 
 

Dancers are trained to seek corrections, they strive to improve their technique to become the best dancer they can possibly be. They are perfectionists. They learn to take rejection with grace and humility. Their growth as a dancer should not include the expectation (implied or directly given) to make drastic changes to their bodies, with the lasting physical and mental impact that this brings. 

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4 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

It’s sensationalism because that’s what it is and that’s what journalists do. That’s the whole point of journalism! 
 

I wonder if the schools sometimes would ever please the expectations of the parents? And I include myself in that. It’s very hard to judge appropriately when you’re emotionally involved. 
 

I have experience, yes. Things have been said to my son that I have not been happy with. It’s very difficult. I didn’t keep quiet about it and I’ve moved on and so has my son. 
 

I just think sometimes that people are unwilling to be honest with the reality of certain things (and I say that meaning not just ballet). Too often things are just a story for social media etc and they’re not meant to bring change. But people think they are and they get emotional about it. And that’s very unfair to people who have to deal with negative comments about them on social media. Too many people get too excited when something is said (like Acosta’s ‘words’). 


I find your thinking extremely black and white if I may say so. 'The whole point of journalism is sensationalism'.  ????

I think there may be some award winning journalists out there who may disagree with you just a bit!

I think you'll find that journalists have done quite a monumental job of revealing and exposing some quite horrific crimes. Surely you are aware?

Let's face it, the Ballet World is a law to itself. Society doesn't really know or understand what happens in that tight bubble do they? And that's very handy for the Ballet World. Just how they wish it could remain forever- with nobody poking their noses in to see what really happens. Because boy! It would soon make the headlines. And rightly so, because this is a health crisis involving young, growing developing bodies. Bodies that may want to bear children and have a decent active life and grow old without too much pain.

And yes, it's all our responsibilities to protect our youngsters but if you happen to be in the public eye and have influence then of course you have more responsibility.

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4 minutes ago, Out-the-other-side said:

About his weight? 
 

Dancers are trained to seek corrections, they strive to improve their technique to become the best dancer they can possibly be. They are perfectionists. They learn to take rejection with grace and humility. Their growth as a dancer should not include the expectation (implied or directly given) to make drastic changes to their bodies, with the lasting physical and mental impact that this brings. 

Yes comments about weight and other things. It’s not just assigned to girls those sorts of comments! Can we stop with the nonsense that it’s just aimed at girls! 
 

Yes dancers are perfectionists and that is probably why they get into ballet in a serious way. And I’m sure they put a lot of expectations on themselves, not just from words implied or not that have been said to them. 
 

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17 minutes ago, Out-the-other-side said:

Thin-ness in the ballet world and the real world bear absolutely no resemblance. My DD, who was a recovering anorexic at the time, was told, to her face, that she was too fat to get a job. In the real world, she is considered to be exceptionally thin. Same person, same body, different attitudes to weight. 
Some teachers dress up their prejudices with phrases such as lengthen your lines, some use the word weight and fat quite openly. Both equally toxic and damaging to girls standing in front of a mirror learning to hate their bodies. 

Not just girls so please stop with that. 
 

From what I have witnessed thinness is celebrated in society as a whole, and if not thinness (fashion changes) then very unrealistic body shapes. 
 

If you’re starving yourself then that’s a serious mental health disorder. (And not all disorders to do with food and eating include starving yourself, just to make that clear). 

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I am sticking to forum rules and discussing personal experiences. However, I must stress  in my DDs year it was overwhelmingly girls who were criticised regarding their weight - the subject of this discussion. And the article itself talks about ladies being light enough to be lifted. No reference to male dancers being overweight. 
 

I can see we are not going to agree on this subject. I wish you and your son a happy and positive relationship with ballet. And I will continue to be glad whenever this subject is raised and kept in the public consciousness. 

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12 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

Not just girls so please stop with that. 
 

From what I have witnessed thinness is celebrated in society as a whole, and if not thinness (fashion changes) then very unrealistic body shapes. 
 

If you’re starving yourself then that’s a serious mental health disorder. (And not all disorders to do with food and eating include starving yourself, just to make that clear). 


I think society is moving quite quickly in the right direction from what I see.

I see models of all shapes and sizes now. Clothes put on shelves with the biggest size on the outside. People's attitude on social media has definitely changed and society is way more inclusive than ever before.

That's because there's been a huge trend towards acceptance which has come through social media. That's a positive change!! Because people spoke out in the media and sure enough everyone started talking and thinking differently and consumer companies caught on quick enough.

The reason that doesn't flow to the Ballet World is because they are fearful and downright terrified of the changes that might need to happen to accommodate a more healthy body.

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It is flowing, I think, just slowly. Too many powerful people with their own traumas to unpick “Never did me any harm, I had a piece of chocolate last month!” 

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In my experience,  the desirable aesthetic in ballet schools & companies is still 'undernourished'.  For males & females.

I think there is a mismatch between this and the general audience's perceptions of beauty.

 

I greatly appreciate people like Steven McRae speaking up about the beauty of athleticism & how he suffered as an artist & a person, when he danced on an insufficient caloric intake... to meet the boyish aesthetic.

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55 minutes ago, Ballet Saga said:

I don’t know what it’s evidence of to be honest. 

 
It's evidence that weight matters to Ballet schools and Ballet companies.( not just sensationalist journalists!)

If an application form asks for a child's weight when they have not seen the child dance then it can't just be journalists needing a story can it?

 

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19 minutes ago, Ruby Foo said:


I think society is moving quite quickly in the right direction from what I see.

I see models of all shapes and sizes now. Clothes put on shelves with the biggest size on the outside. People's attitude on social media has definitely changed and society is way more inclusive than ever before.

That's because there's been a huge trend towards acceptance which has come through social media. That's a positive change!! Because people spoke out in the media and sure enough everyone started talking and thinking differently and consumer companies caught on quick enough.

The reason that doesn't flow to the Ballet World is because they are fearful and downright terrified of the changes that might need to happen to accommodate a more healthy body.

What you see as positive change is merely marketing and the tide will quickly turn again if it leads to more profit in the long run. 
 

And it can probably be said it’s the same for Ballet. The reason you’re not seeing any real change is because all the chatter and sensationalism on social media and in mainstream journalism, is just that, chatter and sensationalism. So it’s nothing to do with being ‘terrified’. It’s because no one is willing to have honest discussions and mainly that’s due to immediate persecution if you say something someone doesn’t like. 

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