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I want the perfect ballerina body!!!

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There are many poeple around us who think they are fat. Many of it come from the pressure of boys and how they htink girls body's should be like. For dancers it is different, they need to be light and liftable. Dieting comes in hand at this point but when they dont succeed they do the next best thng that they think is healthy that comes to mind. An eating disorder.

by: Kristi

The ballet physique:

A ballerina could start her training as early as four years old and through the years that she comes out of being a toddler to becoming a school girl into adolescents she notices many things.. She will see a lot of changes in herself. Some of these are good, boys become cute, her breasts start to grow, hips widen, her menstrual cycle begins and she becomes taller. Some things about growing up are not good. For one thing there is the problem in a ballerina that her breasts will grow too big to conform to the figure of the perfect small ballerina. Hips start to fill out and the "ballet bum" begins to lose its shape. Girls see that all of the famous and really good ballerinas are the thin ones, with no breasts, no hips and no stomachs. Why is this shape the desirable shape for the ballerina?

The origin of the dance figure was in the eighteenth century. A young dancer by the name of Marie Camargo became a prominent figure on the stage. She was light footed sure of her steps and shorter than all of the male dancers on the stage. Her timing for her career was perfect. This was about the time that it became fashionable to go to the ballet. Camargo became famous and every young dancer in the world wanted to go to the same dance company so that they could share in her lime light. The company would not let any new dancers in who were taller than their star performer. As girls reached five feet five their dreams would be smashed at the realization that they would never have Camargo's figure. This new dancer also redefined the shape of the classical ballet dancer. Before her debut on the stage the ballet dancers were not traditionally small, but due to her popularity, the new figure became mandatory to succeed in the world of ballet.

The look of the dancer is the "genre of the veritably, length of spine, the open stance and the lean look" (Street, 1994). This is derived from the court dance which attempted to portray a regal demeanor.

Why dancers have such a high incidence of the disease:

A ballet dancer is very aware of what her body looks like. At each practice she attends she wears skin-tight clothes and dances strenuously in front of large mirrors. A dancer has to look at herself for many hours in a day and this can cause a realization in the dancer. The general public may look in the mirror for a few minutes a day, hardly aware of what they really look like, but a dancer has no choice but to stand in front of a mirror and compare herself with others in the room. Seeing others thinner than she, could prompt a dancer to lose a few pounds to look as small as the other dancers in the room. As each one does this the room of dancers becomes very small. Anorexia seems like the best way to become the smallest dancer in the class.

Another reason dancers would want to be small is that they have to jump high, spin fast and balance on their toes for extended periods of time. If a dancer weighs much or her weight changes frequently these steps are difficult to execute. A dancer has to know her body weight and be able to balance with no exterior problems. "Extra weight changes the balance of the body. It takes more strength to get up in the air, more time to do the move, and it's harder to land." (Chiu, 1996) A dancer also has to be conscious that a man has to be able to carry her for extended lifts and holds. Knowing she can dance better with a smaller weight convinces a dancer that she must stay thin at all costs.

A dancer is usually seeking perfection in the steps that she executes. If she does not she will never reach a professionals level. Because a dancer is a perfectionist, she has to be flawless and better than her peers. A young anorexic dancer, when interviewed stated that, "she had something that other people wanted. They wanted to look like her and it was a sense of power, control and accomplishment that she could be like that." (Dyson, 1995) This also gives the dancer a feeling that she has an edge over the other dancers and sometimes this edge is important.

The ultimate goal for a dancer is to become a professional. The truth is as stated by a dancer, "In the real world people who are not thin do not get jobs." (Emily Martin, personal communications, December, 1995) In the dancing world this is true. All dancers know that to get into a dance company of choice they have to look like the other girls in the ballet world so that when they get on stage they all look the same. The dancers know this and before applying for a dance company make sure that their bodies conform to the ideals of the dance company. The edge (being smaller than all other) that is gained through anorexia may be what gets them into the dance company. Those girls that do not have the figures have to find something else to do with their lives. For some this can be too much and that will drive them to anorexia to get into the company the next audition.

Dancers are usually from a moderately high socio-economic background. As discussed previously, the children from the high socio-economic background have a higher incidence of getting anorexia than any other group. With the pressures of their family life and of dancing these girls are at a higher risk than any other group in society (of getting anorexia).

The primary reason that a dancer will develop anorexia is traditionally a ballet dancers are slender. When it is known throughout the world that the best dancers in the world are thin and only the thin ballet dancers get jobs, it is easy for a dancer at a young age to think that anorexia is the only way for them to become and stay thin. To a dancer the pressure to be thin is very great. Before anyone looks at the way they dance or the way they move, the way they look is the first thing noticed. "An ideal has been set in place in the dance community which reflects the general publics desire to see thin women on stage." (Dyson, 1995)


Conclusion:

Although eating disorders can affect everyone, the incidence in dancers is almost one hundred percent as estimated by the CAAWS. "Most dancers have been through some kind of eating disorder, it's just that we don't see it. We don't discuss it." (Kehree LaCrosse, dance teacher, personal communication, January 1996) The ballet dancers in our society have been told by the general public that if they are not thin then they will not be considered ballet dancers. Because of pressures put on a dancer to be thin she will find her peace in developing an eating disorder. These disorders can cause many disturbances in the body sometimes resulting in death. Why do we put one elite group in our society through such emotional and physical turmoil? Do we really need to have thin, frail girls dancing across a stage? Our society is killing a group on individuals because of the traditional way we view the ballerina.

Here is a story of Sorella Englund a ballet dancer who had an eating disorder.

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Ballet dancers take steps to healthier bodies
Written by CBC News Online staff

An international conference entitled "Not Just Any Body" was held in Toronto and The Hague on the weekend.

Delegates were linked by satellite as they discussed the danger of being obsessed with appearance and performance.

"I got anorexia when I was about 19 or 20, and it sort of just increased and increased, so by age 33, I had a heart attack," said Sorella Englund, former principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet.

A growing number of people in classical ballet want to change the way dancers train -- from the old system of "punishing" the body to achieve greatness to a new model of eating well and exercising.

At Canada's National Ballet School, doctors and dance instructors now work hand in hand.

Under the new program, students are no longer required to weigh themselves at the start of the day, and instructors are discouraged from discussing ideal body shapes.

The school estimates that the number of its students suffering from eating disorders has fallen from about 15 per cent to zero -- with no cases reported in more than three years.

But others say the pressure to be thin is still there, and that more must be done to change the culture of dancers.

"One heart attack there, or one death here, doesn't really move things," says Englund. "It has to be a bigger wish of the whole community."


All in the end is you want to have a healthy body check out www.dancer.com and click on "eat right" for more information or try out Canada's eating plan.

"Eat Right"

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The wording above came from this site http://www.something-fishy.org/cultural/ballet.php
&
www.cbcnews.com

The following was borrowed from the following site http://www.radacadabra.org/



Site By Ashley made on December 9 2004