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The Body of Ballet


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Regarding the thinness of dancers, I believe this in some companies is beginning to change. The dancers to me are appearing to be athleticaly thin as apposed to 'starved'. My daughter went to see The Royal Ballet in London and was pleasantly suprised to see that their legs were muscley (my daughter has hated her legs, even though they are long but with muscle), so that was brilliant for her to recognise this. As part of the degree studied at Central, there is an assignment based on nutrition, again this has been valuable for my daughter, as she is really looking at how to be and stay healthy as a dancer. This first year as a 6th former has begun to change my daughters views regarding health matters in so many ways. I think in her previous school the lessons were always there, but she was too young to completely understand them, especially when going through puberty.

 

Regarding aesthetics, well when you have so many dancers for ballet with these attributes why wouldn't a company director want to choose these dancers, they appear to have everything, body shape, flexibility, musicality. I don't mean this to be cruel but in the ballet world I bet it's true, why have a shire horse when you can have a show horse? Let's not presume body type is just for the ladies, what about the men? How difficult is it for men out there?

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Perhaps it's time to have transparency in the audition process.

Forgot P.C and lets get some productive feedback so the dc's and parents can accept why they weren't considered for a particular school.

It could be similar to an exam assessment.

Each dc would receive a score and then they could see if there is any possibility of improvement or whether it is time to choose another direction.

Include height, weight , degree of turnout, core strength etc.

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The problem with that is not every person on the audition panel will agree with each other, same as in assessments, three teachers will say a child is doing very well yet the director of dance will assess and will give a totaly different oppinion and mark. Very confusing to a dancer. Sometimes the answer could be when a child is older 6th form and every school is saying no, that may well be the time to reconsider.

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The only trouble is Discouraged is that all these indicators weight, height, flexibility etc, are all subject to change as the student progresses.

And when would be the correct time in a child or young persons training to apply such test at 11 when assertaining who should be MDS funded or at 16 or indeed 18 ?

It was interesting to see that POB issued a table of height to weight ratio for their summer school .

Even when told "they will never make it as a classical dancer" a young lady I know of has been offered 2 company contracts.

This said I can see where you are coming from. I enjoyed reading the blog you posted originally but it came as no surprise. I personally do not like to see very thin sinewy ballet dancers and feel it also makes them look older than their years.

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I read this article with interest. My 14 year old DD is at a national ballet school training under the Vaganova system. She is constantly being told by the teacher that she is fat and needs to lose weight. The teacher told me that she does not have a"traditional ballet body". For that read "traditional Russian ballet body" since she is 5' 7" UK size 6-8 . Hearing this has started to destroy the dream she has had since her third birthday when she attended her first formal ballet class, we were so worried about her that we applied to Tring just before the 4th Feb. auditions. We spent the money to take her even though we knew there was very little chance of her being able to go even if she was offered a place because we don't qualify for MDS not living in the UK. Of course at the audition she was the same size as all the other dancers which gave her a better idea of other Brits, which made her feel better about herself but it is very difficult to try and instill a healthy way of eating when the teacher is telling her she needs to lose weight. I have been looking for nutritional advice to help her but there seems to be very little out there for a dancer. If anyone has any advice to give me I would really appreciate it.

 

Thanks

Dramascientist

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Guest Autumn days

"It was interesting to see that POB issued a table of height to weight ratio for their summer school ."

 

I cannot find this information on their website, only the table that applies to students up to age 13. Does anyone have a link or details to the table for summer school, which I imagine covered older students as well? It would be interesting to see what POB consider to be suitable!!

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Do you not argee with me that it is very difficult to compare height and weight to an athlete with strong muscles. Muscle weighs heavier than fat. Should it not be a 'look' they are after. Both me and my daughter are the same weight but she is far thinner to look at than me, plus I am shorter than her. It is a very dangerous game to get into height and weight when teenagers are going through puberty, a quick step towards obsessive behavior regarding weight and self image.

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I for one agree Tulip and have been very careful over the years with my two dd's not to place emphasis on weight. The only times I have ever weighed them is for application forms. You are quite right a muscular toned body will be heavier but look slimmer .

 

Mum in a spin it was somewhere on the site when I was looking at Summer School from a previous thread .... I only looked at my dd's particulars she is 12 so it may not have gone any higher.

 

Drama scientist this sounds quite extreme, from the info you give your dd sounds very slim ... What size do they expect them to be?

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"It was interesting to see that POB issued a table of height to weight ratio for their summer school ."

 

I cannot find this information on their website, only the table that applies to students up to age 13. Does anyone have a link or details to the table for summer school, which I imagine covered older students as well? It would be interesting to see what POB consider to be suitable!!

I don't think there was a table for the SS. There is one for applying for the year round school and as you said up to 13...

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It actually is interesting about those charts because they are not strictly respected...

When DD1 auditioned for POB at 8 so 7 years ago, a kid was there much shorter and lighter than she should have been and the mum had a wrist Xray with her to her "bone age"... I don't know if she got in.

 

POB is also know for assessing out teenagers who, even though they got in at the "right" ratio, have become too tall or too short or too "chubby", "round", "muscular"... I don't know what to call it... In any case, they can't fit in the corps de ballet according to POB!

 

DD2 is auditioning for the 2nd time this year and even though she always is the smallest and the thinest of her group of dancer friends, she's at the maximum scale limit for POB! 200g and 2 cm more and she'd be too heavy and too tall!

Edited by afab
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Yes Hairbelles it is fairly extreme, but it is so traditionally Russian they don't seem to have moved on from Soviet times in this, though the school has just got a new Director who seems to be trying to move the school forward to bring in more modern thought. The other girls in her class are all no taller than 5'3" with hips like ten year olds. My daughter looks huge against them so its hardly surprising she feels like the teacher is speaking the truth. I'm so worried she will develop an eating disorder if it goes on much longer.

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Like many others, I don't think the height/weight ratio or BMI is all that reliable an indicator. Aged 17, I was working long hours on a farm, and later that year I got an office job. Neither my height or weight changed at all, but within a month I had put on 4 inches round my waist simply due to loss of muscle tone.

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Last month I attended one of the "Focus on Style" seminars at RBS.  This one was Focus on Russian Style and a teacher from the Vaganova Academy of St. Petersburg came with two senior girls to give the demonstration class.  (The girls will go into the Graduation class next year).  It struck me quite forcibly how "normal" these girls looked, beautiful, elegant but feminine too - not skinny or scrawny.  Very similar to UK senior girls.  Earlier seminars have been reported in Dancing Times, so possibly next month's issue will have photos and analysis.  I would suggest the teacher of dramascientist's dd is behind the times!

 

By chance I met and ended up sitting next to another member of this board - perhaps she will have something to add.

 

Edited to add last sentence.

Edited by Pas de Quatre
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I can't believe that in the 10+ years I have been working in dance medicine and science, that there are still people who work on height:weight ratios and BMI. Not to mention teachers who tell children they are too fat. How dare they? Who are they to say whether a child will or won't be employable in several years time, by people who have yet to meet them, based purely on their own opinions? It makes me very cross.

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I imagine you can do that... But I don't find it right to ask a question that some people can answer and some can't and besides height depends so much on different things. Who doesn't know siblings where one is significantly taller or thinner than the other one?

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Yes, and what if one parent is 6'5" and the other 4'11"? Which parent might they take after?!!! I've also wondered about shoe size (for girls) since one of the things they look for is that they won't be too tall against a male partner. When on pointe someone with large feet is going to be taller than someone else with tiny feet, even if they are the same height on the flat...

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Society is definately changing, I have never seen so many tall people, especially men. I thought that my height 5ft 4inch was average, but I feel so small next to nearly all the people I know. I have over 40 staff and I have to say that 90% are taller than me, the last 5% older than me. My daughter is 5ft 5 1/2inch and is middle height in her year group. I notice this even more when I walk through a City Centre everyone appears to be tall next to me. Has anyone else noticed this?

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Tulip, I agree that people seem to be getting taller. At 5ft 4inches I had always understood that I was an average height for women of my age (born in the early 60s). I meet many women who are at least 5ft 7. Quite a few are over 5ft 9.

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Hi all

Thanks to Spanner we got the very same book a year or so ago-in hindsight I don't think she had enough energy to support the speed at which she was growing. She was skinny and tall and would look so pale after a dance class that I came onto the forum to seek help. We changed her diet (more protein/carbs) as even though she had a huge appetite, she probably wasn't eating the right stuff. Gosh I even made her eat liver once a fortnight!! She has now stopped growing (5 foot 8!!) and has started to fill out a little. She seems so much better and definitely doesn't come out of a class so wobbly. If it's your first child, you are still learning all the time!

xx

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone. Hopefully it wont take too long for the book to get here and it will give my DD the support she needs without it being dangerous. I will let you know how things go. I am starting to pray now that things will work out for her to come back to the UK for sixth form if she still wants it. I have also had a word with the homeroom teacher at the school who assures me that she will have a different teacher next year (5th year) so lets hope it will get better. Maybe its just this teacher who treats the girls like this because thats how they did it when she was training?

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