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body type


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Hi I was wondering if ballet has you have a short body and long legs? I've noticed that everyone at my ballet studio has this kind of body type and I was wondering if this is why?

~Jocelyn~ :D

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Guest Red Shoes

I think it just depends what sort of dancer you are. I mean, dancers with short bodies and long legs will probably have higher extensions, but short-legged dancers will have better batterie. There are fashions for body shapes but if you are a good dancer it doesn't matter!

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Hello Flight, welcome to Ballet Alert Online and the Young Dancers' forum!


Jocelyn, ballet does not create long legs and short torso. That is a basic structure, or body type, which, like one's height, we can't control. As Flight said, one can be a good dancer with many different types of bone structure, but it is the long legged/short torso look which has been fashionable in ballet for a long time. And she is also correct in that, generally, the long legged dancer will have more extension and better line, while the shorter, more compactly built dancers will have stronger jumps. This, however, is a generality, and does not always hold true. There are lots of tall, long legged dancers with a good jump, and some shorter legged dancers with good extension and line. Proportion is important, however, and the length of line is very hard to create for the dancer with the type of imbalance created by an exceptionally long torso and short legs.

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And just for the sheer nomenclature of it all, the long legs, short body, small head look is called "mannerism", or in this case, "neo-mannerism", as the original was popular long about the thirteenth or fourteenth century in art. It's also called the "Balanchine body" as George Balanchine favored this type during the big ballet boom of the late 60s and early 70s. A lot of dancers from that period are teaching now, and not just a few are "locked into the 60s" on the body issue. Balanchine didn't totally abandon this preference, but he evolved past it in the later part of his life.

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See "mannerism" above. He abandoned that in about the middle 1970s.

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It sure was. ;) Look at early Renaissance paintings - the figures, particularly the women have tiny heads, a short torso, long, long legs and they are pretty much flat as a board in a standard of beauty that considered verticality most attractive over all other considerations. This is called "mannerism".

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