Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Cutthroat dance world

As I’ve previously mentioned in posts, I’ve reignited my passion for the things I loved doing as a child, such as: writing poetry and songs, drawing, taking photos and dancing. Ballet was always my first passion and I started training at 4 years old. I’ve started doing more ballet recently for pure enjoyment and because it’s such a good form of physical exercise. As I’ve started remembering steps and things I learnt, I’ve also started remembering things I experienced in the dance world. I have fond memories of dance competitions I took part in and a memory of an adjudicator referring to me as “a budding little dancer.” It was when I got older that I experienced how cutthroat the theatre world really can be. A theatre performance can seem so glamorous with all the fancy costumes, dazzling smiles and dramatic lighting but the real drama often happens behind the scenes in a world that is so competitive. Performers can be so critical of one another, as well as themselves, and won’t hesitate to comment on someone’s weight or looks. Auditions are just as bad, a performer might be talented, but to the producer they are just a number and if they don’t have “the right face” or if they aren’t the same size as the other performers, they won’t get in. I was once told at an audition: “you’re too fat for this show,” that was the last audition I ever attended and I never entered the theatre world again.

Dancing is such a beautiful art form but in order for ballet to be beautiful, lines need to be flawless, which means a dancer should have a perfect body (if there is such a thing). A dance studio can be an intimidating place for a dancer with low self-esteem. Seeing yourself at every angle in a mirrored room could shatter one’s confidence, especially if one is dancing next to someone with a smaller, thinner body shape. There’s a lot of pressure in the dance world, a lot of which comes directly from the teachers. Part of a dancer’s education should include healthy eating habits so that if a teacher feels it’s necessary for a student to lose weight, the student will go about it in a healthy way and not develop an eating disorder in the process. I wonder how some dancers get through such vigorous rehearsals when they’ve barely eaten, if at all. Behind the scenes, many dancers will snack on chocolate or crisps. Chocolate is ok as long as it’s not binged and as long as it’s not the only thing the dancer consumes all day. Eating disorders have been prevalent in the dance world for years but it’s also remained a taboo subject. I seriously wonder how an underweight, undernourished ballerina can be seen as beautiful. My opinion is that in order to be a dancer, one doesn’t need to be stick-thin but definitely needs skill, passion and determination.

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