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What do they mean by the perfect ballet body?


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When Balanchine said that there was a " perfect" ballet body what did he mean? Does that mean that the only way you will ever be a NYCB dancer is to have long legs long arms and neck? Or extremly wonderful feet? If any of you have any idea please answer.:)

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The "Balanchine body" doesn't even rule in NYCB any more. He even changed his ideas of perfection between the time he made that statement and his death. Some of the women who were admitted to the company in the later years in no way fit the "mannerist" profile of which he had been so enamored in the 1960s - tiny head, very short torso, very long legs and arms. So, to quote the old song, when you say, "perfect ballet body" it's "different things to different people."

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I was wondering, what are some companies that take shorter dancers, not with the "perfect body" (for example, my legs don't go on for miles) ;)

Also, what seems to be a height range for female dancers?

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There are short, medium, and tall dancers in almost all companies, blizzardqueen. I don't think there are any exact limits either way, and it often depends on how good someone is. The range is sort of generally somewhere between 5'3" to 5'7", but there are shorter and taller than that. If you are really short or really tall, then you have to be a really exceptional dancer :)

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a lot of the company profiles ive been looking at(i have a long ways to go, but ive just checked out some of their audition info) give 5'1" as their minimum, which is very good news for me because i am 5'1"! being short can be a good thing i suppose, because if youre in the corps you will probably be in the front row, and sometimes youre just too short to be in the corps, so you have to be a soloist! but i do feel bad for all the tall girls out there, for while they do look incredible onstage, you cant dance with a guy who isnt a couple inches taller than you.

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I am 14 and 5' 2" but my body is ALL legs!!!! Its like people in my class who are a foot taller than me my legs are sometimes longer than theirs. Will this work to my advantage when I try to get into a " Balanchine" based company?

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Having long legs is a good thing, but of course one must also have the talent and the training, so, there is no way for us to say if it will help you or not! Also, being "all legs" at 14 could change with further growth, although it is certainly a good sign that you may at least have long legs and short torso, which is a good start :)

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Guest Firebird3000

I am a 13 year old dancer who is very short. If i pull up enough I'm just on 5 feet. Will dance companies still accept me. Also my arches aren't exactly the highest? Will this hold me back?

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Hello Firebird3000, welcome to the Young Dancers' forum here on Ballet Alert! Online :)


At 13, it is highly possible that you still have some growing to do! So, I would not get overly concerned about that quite yet. As to the feet, that is an important aspect, but really learning to WORK them and to USE them well can be an enormous help. While having high arches and insteps is certainly desirable, there are many dancers working professionally who have somewhat less that exceptional arches but they have learned to use their feet so well, and become so strong in all the other areas, that they make it anyway.

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I have the same problem, my feet are not the best. However, in a recent issue of either Pointe or Dance (sorry, can't remember) there was a picture of a dancer who is a principal with NYCB and her feet were not great at all!!! That gave me some comfort... but I still know I better be nearly perfect with all other aspects of ballet if I expect to make it.

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Guest goingforsatin


I have the same height problems. I believe you can STILL make it as a dancer- in fact your stature may help you the dance better. If you are tall and do a turn, gravity is fighting against you, if you are short your center of balance is better. Don't worry!

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Firebird, I found it! The article is in the February/March [2003] issue of Pointe magazine, it is on dancer Dena Abergel. Hope you find it interesting! :)

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