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Long back?!


swanprincess
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So I auditioned for the Graham Fletcher ballet associates today. Graham spoke to my mum afterwards and said he wasnt sure about me; I had lots of enthusiasm and my technique was okay. However, he said I have a long back, which could hinder my chances of dancing professionally. Is physique really that important, that a long back is enough to prevent a ballet career??

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Unfortunately for ballet Physique is top on the list alongside other qualities that they will look for when auditioning. Would you say that you were in proportion to the rest of your body e.g., long legs, arms and long neck? Is it purely ballet that you are interested in?

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It is true, sadly, that a 'short torso' appears to be part of the classical ballet aesthetic at the moment. However if you are a stunning dancer with good technique, talent and artistry then I would like to think it could be overlooked?!

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I know it's different for boys, but my son has a relatively long back (and short-ish legs) and it probably contributed to why he was assessed out of WL as it's not their "style". It also means he's not as flexible as some others. But he still graduated from Elmhurst and is working in an established European classical ballet company.

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Generally speaking a long back will alter the proportionality in some very important ballet shapes such as arabesque. It also in some people, affects the flexibility of the hip - especially how high the leg can go to the back.

 

Since ballet is one of the few, if not the only one of the dance genres, in which beauty is a primary concern then proportion has to be taken into account. Many other dance genres are beauiful, but that is often not their primary concern. With the ballet it has been so since the beginning.

 

However, what constitutes beauty does change with the years. At this time, long legs and a short back, is the marker.

 

There are many doors in the ballet/dance world. Different companies look for different things. Eifman ballet is very different than the RB or POB or Mariinsky. There are marvelous dancers who do not fit the cookie cutter mold and have searched out those companies who celebrate differences rather than celebrating conformity.

 

Does artistic talent, musicality, individualism, technique, etc., count? Yes, it does. But, you have to look for the places where your aspirations and abilities fit in with their aspirations.

 

Don't be discouraged.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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Swanprincess honey please keep going and keep trying. even if you never get to realise your dreams as a ballet dancer, you will gain so much more from your sheer determination. I've followed your posts with interest and you seem to be a grounded well rounded lovely girl, keep in there and be proud of your determination whatever the out come I wish you well xxx

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Hi Swan Princess please don't think about giving up just yet!! It is true probably that having a longer back to legs proportionately may not create such a nice line and may restrict some leg height etc. if you really do love ballet then you can be aware of certain limitations and make the most of other qualities. I would hate to raise your hopes unnecessarily......but sometimes you can prove people wrong!! Presumably you have taken some grade exams and passed them?! I don't know what level you are at right now of course but if you are progressing well and are enthusiastic I would just keep going and see how far you can get. If going for auditions etc maybe really think carefully about choreography you use to show yourself to advantage....if get the choice etc. You may not know yet what direction your ballet could take you and even if you do not for whatever reason actually make it into a company down the line maybe you would make an excellent and creative teacher.....but for the time being keep your eyes on the goal you would like to achieve for now.

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This business of "short torso" really gets my goat. Why are our schools so fixated on it? If you have long arms, legs and neck to go with your "long" back, i.e. you are in proportion and your physique doesn't affect your technique, then what does it matter?

 

If you go and watch ENB, there is a hugely diverse mixture of long bodies, short bodies, long legs, short legs, stocky legs, wide ribcages, narrow ribcages, banana feet, straight feet. Yet their corps is always wonderfully co-ordinated and in synch. When you get to company level, it's your dancing that matters. I'm quite sure no AD got a ruler and started measuring the ratio of people's bodies to legs.

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I don't actually think all schools are fixated on it.... It's just that some schools can afford to be so ridiculously choosy that they can be fixated on it - and then perhaps this filters through to panels selecting for the associate programmes?, and staff who teach for the associate programmes then teach elsewhere but keep to this ideal, or parents of students then discuss it and believe that it is totally necessary? 

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Swanprincess my heart goes out to you... It saddens my that lovely passionate dancers that work hard are continually overlooked :( keep going and don't ever give in YOUR dream there are lots of different paths and one of them will lead you down to where you need to go...

Keep shining princess :)

 

Cx

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I don't actually think all schools are fixated on it.... It's just that some schools can afford to be so ridiculously choosy that they can be fixated on it - and then perhaps this filters through to panels selecting for the associate programmes?, and staff who teach for the associate programmes then teach elsewhere but keep to this ideal, or parents of students then discuss it and believe that it is totally necessary?

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Too true drdance if there's one thing I have learnt from this last year and a half its that you are completely at the mercy of someone's opinion. When you look more deeply its seems that the rules are not always equal x I was all set to make my dd end with all the noncence but I've since realised she should absolutely keep going if that's what's she wants, her smile is infectious xx

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One thing I try to remember when things become disheartening, is that the only way to change things is to keep persevering and to keep confident that you can help to move things forward. Yes there will always be people who will say "you won't be successful because that's not how it is"... Well there's this thing called the FUTURE!

 

Swanprincess you are a dancer of the future - and out there are choreographers, teachers, artistic directors etc of the future  who we don't know about yet. And I really, really hope they are more open minded to a lot of things!

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Wow... thank you everyone for your lovely responses and support, i'm so grateful to everyone on this forum! :)

As for being in proportion, well people have said that I have got fairly long legs- and definitely long legs and arms!!

Graham said that 'you'll never be in the Royal Ballet', but to be honest, the corps de ballet of any company would be a total dream come true!! Not getting in to White Lodge has made me realise that i'll never make it to the top- but i'll get as close as I can!! ;)

I guess I'll keep trying until I either succeed in ballet, or find another path :)

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I was just googling "proportions and ballet dancers" and the first article that comes up there is interesting(sorry am so useless at posting links etc) and you will be pleased to see swan princess that about half way down in Blacktype is the statement "Ballet Companies like talent and talent comes in all shapes and sizes". So hope there's some encouragement for you!!

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I'm not sure I understand all the physique stuff as my understanding of 'long back' would be that your body is slightly longer than average and your legs slightly shorter and you couldn't have long back and long legs? I once had a ballet exercise video (yes video, it was that long ago!) made by marguerite porter and she has an extremely long back but I believe was a principal at the royal ballet. Have you auditioned at lots of different places? A lot of us love ballet but are not quite right to make it as a dancer, have you considered other avenues or dance styles? Would it be worth continuing the ballet but looking into other avenues as a back up; teaching, choreography, contemporary? X

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Some people refer to "long back" or "long waisted" as in the measurement from the waistband to the bottom of the buttocks is longer in some people. You can still have long legs too though!

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You can also seemingly have a body that is too short! My daughter is a bit like this and it makes the ribcage look quite broad. Try not to worry too much and make the most of what you have, whilst being realistic. Makes me think of a quote from Monty Python's 'Holy Grail'....."Is it too big, is it too small, will the girls like it...?" lol

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My ex DVD's ballet teacher would not let her even audition for the RB. She said she was losing waisted and they wouldn't even look at how she danced. To make it worse, she said my eldest looked like a dancer but as we both knew, ballet was not her thing at all.

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All this body type measurements has got me confused now(not that difficult a thing to do though). Ive always thought I'm nearly evenly proportioned but perhaps fractionally longer in the body.....but perhaps it's this long waisted thing which Ive never thought about that much(I am a bit of a jeans for nearly everywhere person) so clueless with fashion etc. But having wide hips and shoulders knew I was not the right ballet body. Actually at 11 the RBS predicted my height...and they were spot on!!! They look at hip restrictions too.

 

The person whose teacher didn't let them audition for the Royal is a very wise lady I think. No point in dashing young children's hopes unnecessarily. However some kids are very determined so they would have to learn the hard way but perhaps a good reality check.

 

But to return properly to the thread a lot of body shape probs can be overcome and it's dance quality which counts.....only a very few can dance with the Royal there are lots of other companies out there!!

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Though we don't like to acknowledge the things we can't change - those which inhibit our ability to pursue our dreams - this is the reality in many fields, not just dance.

 

You can't sing in the opera chorus without a worthy voice and range.

 

You won't be an orchestra member without the ear and ability to play a musical instrument.

 

You won't be in professional sports without the ability to play a sport.

 

You won't be an author without the ability to write.

 

My husband is an engineer - I will never be able to think like he does.

 

You won't be a scientist without the attributes which make for a good scientist - or teacher - or clothes designer or or or......

 

You can be taught many of these things but there does need to be some basis upon which to build.  And many times that basis is something we can't control.

 

With all the will in the world after, after years of lessons, I will never be able to play the piano - but I did enjoy the lessons and the very small (VERY small) progress I made.

 

Sometimes the person/s telling us "not possible" is wrong - the problem is to discover if this is true.  Get another opinion (or more), explore the reality of it.  Try to discover the truth without the emotion of it getting in the way. 

 

When our dreams are thwarted we cry "unfair."  Well, it is  unfair - but there it is.  We all have this "unfairness" with which we have to deal - so - enjoy the road as much as you are able - you may not be a ballet dancer but maybe a wonderful contemporary dancer.   Or you can dream a new dream.

 

The new dream can be a road close to your original dream or an entirely new dream.  You probably have talents of which you are yet unaware - wouldn't it be wonderful to discover those? And still take ballet class for your enjoyment of them without the pressure.   

 

Lots of things await you - not just one road.  I wish you all the luck in the world.

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Sorry Fiz just seen it was your daughters ex teacher who wouldn't let her audition for the Royal and it was only the post before.....I got interrupted in the middle of my post! It is a difficult one this to trust whether the teacher knows what she is talking about or not! But I suppose if you do let a child go for it against advice they will learn first hand if they get rejected and won't think "if only I'd been allowed to audition etc" It depends on the child too how resilient they are and so on. Did your daughter go for an audition in the end?

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