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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Can weight affect technique?


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I know that weight is not allowed to be discussed in this forum, but I hope that you will forgive me for trying to get an honest answer about something. I do NOT intend to discuss my weight or any particular weight but I just wanted to ask a question. I read a comment by a ballet student on youtube today (yes, I know, not very reliable source!) stating that even if you have perfect turnout, it is impossible to get a perfect fifth position (feet) if you are carrying excess weight. Is this true? To what extent can some (I mean just being on the heavier side of the normal BMI range or slightly overweight) be a hindrance to proper technique? I was just wondering, because I know that often ballet dancers are preferred thin for aesthetic reasons (and are thin simply because they do so much exercise!) but I was wondering if there might be practical implications too.

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I cannot say if this is true for everyone but I know it is true for me. The excess weight I have had (although much reduced now) does not allow my thighs to close fully and easily when going to fifth position, turned out to my fullest, I mean, no matter how pulled up I am. Granted, it's getting easier as the exercise is toning the muscles, but it is still difficult. I have to be careful not to overturn-out my feet, since they can "wing" a lot further than my hips. I can't slide easily into the fifth, in other words. Fortunately, as an adult student, my teachers are all conscious of the technical issues relating to size that I have.


And, well, rather than weight, I think it's size that's the issue. You can be in a perfect BMI or even lower for your age/height/whatever, but still have larger-sized legs or hips due to genetics. My sister-in-law is a petite lady, but has large thighs in relation to her overall body size.

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Lau, I think the way you've posed the question (or rather the statement you've drawn from YouTube) is the reason why we don't discuss weight or body size here on BT4D: and as you rightly comment, You Tube is not a reliable source.


There are so many variables that it's impossible to answer your questions. For a start, we don't know what constitutes "excess weight" for each individual dancer. Even a person with a low BMI carries fat (we need to carry a certain amount of fat). Even a very thin person may not be biomechanically perfect so can't achieve 'perfect' turnout. And so on.


We work with what we've got, and what our bodies are. The challenge is to make the difficult technique of ballet work for our individual bodies. That is part of the feat of artistry.


It's really not a productive question, and even the way you've tried to phrase it (which I appreciate) could work as a trigger for any person reading it, so I'm closing this thread.

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