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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Facility: Body Type Diversity


Mousling

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In light of a few articles and discussions I have seen recently (not just on this board) about what constitues the ballet body, I found this article pretty thought provoking.

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Thanks for sharing the link. Excellent article and great that the discussion is happening with more frequency. It's so important to stress "healthy" over "thin".

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Thanks for sharing! Shared the article with my DD who is NOT a thin, tall, dancer but what one instructor once described as a "womanly" dancer.

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  • 1 month later...

Does there seem to be more of a trend towards body type diversity in classical ballet now than in the past 10 years? I am not talking about weight, ethnicity or color of skin, but strictly body type.

 

I have read that only 2% of women worldwide have Balanchine's preferred body type for classical ballet. We are told over and over again that this preferred body type is what makes beautiful lines for classical ballet.The small torso, long legs (2 to 1 leg to torso ratio) broader shoulders, small waist, narrow to no hips, long neck, long arms, small head.

 

Our AD's training was greatly influenced by Balanchine, and so I am uncertain if this extreme preference is more profound in our studio. She prefers the young boyish figures over a petite feminine figure (even with very slight curves). Another preferred body type is short, athletic and more of a gymnast body type. So short overall.

 

I am hoping that a dancer who is physically fit and well trained with great artistic expression would be preferred over a dancer that just happens to have a certain body type when our dancers start branching out to in to the ballet world seeking higher levels of training or professional careers.

 

I posted some of these questions in the wrong topic previously. So I hope this is a good place.

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This might not be appropriate here but, how do you measure leg:torso ratio? Do you measure the inseam of the leg? Where does the torso start and stop? Shoulders to hips? Waisteline?

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Lady Elle, since many of us do not believe in "body typing," I think it is best that we not get into specifics about how to determine ratios.

 

Danza2, I feel that your experience is specific to your school. A well trained dancer, given the right set of luck and circumstances, will be employable.... not to be determined by body type alone.

 

This is not to say that every body is suited for ballet. Some are not. But ratio specific - this is a wives-tale.

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Thanks - I kind of new that. Just all seems so silly.

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I think if we as parents do not want to perpetuate this "perfect ballet body" we have to actually start believing there is no "one" perfect body. Different companies look for different qualities. And even thinking about actually measuring our children for ratios is telling them we have bought into this one image to dance mentality. It will only plant seeds of doubt.

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GTLS Designs and Monet - Thank you so much. I fully agree and just needed to ask the question. I feel that in order to train at the advanced levels 6 days a week our dancers need to be physically fit, technically strong, artistically expressive and talented. But that is all they can ask of themselves and their bodies. Knowing that success would not be based solely on an unobtainable body type for 98% of the female population, is reassuring. Our dancers come in many shapes and sizes. But I must say, the girls I come across at the studio, at SI auditions all tend to be graceful, physically fit girls. They are all beautiful and they all train hard. I do understand every AD has their preference and it can be very subjective. I just needed a reality check on what's really going on in the greater ballet world.I hope I didn't tap into a forbidden topic.

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Just a thought: Especially with the advent of more and more "modern" choreographies and productions, where it is not hugely important that all look alike to fit into lines and circles exactly, there appear to be more diverse body types in the dance-scene; at least in Europe.

I have seen a few dancers who, offstage, would not have been considered "typical" dancer-types, but onstage - wow.

 

 

-d-

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I have read that only 2% of women worldwide have Balanchine's preferred body type for classical ballet. We are told over and over again that this preferred body type is what makes beautiful lines for classical ballet.

 

The other thing to remember is that Balanchine's style & influence is not the only style and influence. Far from it, as diane points out, in Europe there's a great diversity of choreographic work requiring all sorts of dancing bodies.

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I feel that in order to train at the advanced levels 6 days a week our dancers need to be physically fit, technically strong, artistically expressive and talented.

I think that if a dancer (or any other advanced activity participant) is training 6 days a week they will become physically fit and technically strong.
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From my own observations, when you attend auditions for Balanchine-based schools, you tend to see more of the Balanchine ideal bodies. But that doesn't mean every company and school is looking for that same ideal. Ironically, my DD leans toward that ideal but our company and school prefer more muscular, athletic types. Our dancers look more like Misty Copeland than Suzanne Farrell, and DD looks very out of place at times. We are constantly hearing "but she is soooo tiny!" She IS tiny, but not soooo tiny. It can have its advantages (DD gets to be Clara) and its disadvantages (she doesn't get any other lead kid parts). But the thing is, you really can't change your body type so you have to learn to work with what you have and train your body to the best of its ability. In the end, whatever will be, will be (cue Doris Day).

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Would be nice if there was a trend toward dancers that captivate with their passion so much, you don't even pause to assess their body, feet, etc.

 

Not to say that there aren't these kinds of dancers, but it seems that some people can't see past the body, feet, etc.

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I hope the aesthetic is changing and more varied. I'd like to think that somewhere out there are SIs, college programs and ADs who will see my daughter once she's moving and think, "Yes! I like that!" and not discount her at first glance when she does not have a certain proportion/physique. And, at 14.5, she's still got a few years to go before she settles into her final physique anyway. Misty Copeland and other curvier dancers certainly offer hope for my curvier, more muscular girl.

 

trythis - you posted at the same time and I wholeheartedly agree.

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