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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Articles: College acceptance letter

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I just read this article from Seventeen magazine, written anonymously by a young woman who says she received a college acceptance letter that stated she needed to lose 20 pounds by the time she started her fall semester.




She goes on to detail weigh-ins and additional urgings to lose weight, as well as a generally unhealthy environment.


Does this kind of thing really still happen? (The writer is reflecting on her experience from years ago.) If my DD ever received a letter like the one described here, you can bet there would be two angry parents marching into the admissions office--and a DD choosing a different school... .

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I'm 99% sure she's talking about my alma mater (OKCU ). Everything rings true from what I understood from my dance major friends and that article could have been written by three or four dancers that I knew freshman year that didn't come back (although this was almost 20 years ago). They had a very high rate of dancers dropping the program or changing from performance. I remember friends who were music theater majors getting lower ballet grades if they were able to place into dance major levels because of their weight.


It's not great, however they're very clear as to their expectations when you start the program and they are less harsh in their standards for non-performance majors. She knew when she got that acceptance letter what their standards were (and honestly shouldn't be shocked that some in the dance world felt that way) and should probably have chosen a different program. Many programs do this type of thing and a program that is at least transparent about it from the start.

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This rings true in the professional world as well. DD was urged to loose 4 pounds in one week, which is unhealthy. She saw her friends in one specific professional company eating cotton spheres soaked in orange juice and other unhealthy practices -- torturing themselves to achieve an ideal not natural for most. These people were not in any way close to overweight even -- just striving for that emaciated look valued in the ballet world.


Be careful and keep a close eye on your daughters in ballet. The turn from healthy ballerinas to a life of the 3 C's: "cigarettes, cocaine, and cotton spheres" is a quick one! However, if your build is naturally string bean, then it's the perfect career for you!


I disagree that your weight should in any way influence your ballet grade. Some of the best-skilled ballerinas in the world do not have the ideal body proportions. Some students with perfect proportions were not at all talented dancers, but sure looked good posing. These ballerinas were hired by companies on the spot, and let go from their contract in less than six months, once they figured out they didn't have the skills.


It's important to keep this in perspective when putting all of your eggs in the ballet basket...

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I can't comment on whether this still happens as my child hasn't reached the college admittance process yet. But, as a parent, I think I would almost rather see it spelled out in the acceptance letter. At least this way, the parent and student can have an honest discuss about whether or not that particular program is a good fit for the child, not only in body type, but also mentally, and then a decision can be made to accept the offer or find a program that is a better fit. To me, it seems more cruel to accept a student, and then that student discovers "unspoken" pressures after they get to the college, which could then ultimately affect his or her health and well-being.

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  • 2 years later...

beyondthebarre-please look at the topic title and make sure that you keep all posts to the original topic.  Your post is not about College Acceptances at all so it will be hidden.  Thank you.

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