Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Perfect Ballet Body

People wonder why I still dance ballet. It's actually as simple as physically I am more suited for ballet than any other dance.

I have:-

1) long legs with the knee to bottom of foot being longer than hip joint to knee
2) naturally arched feet
3) at least two first toes of the same length
4) swayback legs (my knees 'dissapear' when I straighten my legs)
5) short torso
6) long neck
7) natural elevation (ie. I can jump and get some distance off the floor!)

Unfortunately, I also have:-

1) an extremely chunky body (enuff said!)
2) square shoulders that are wider than hips (sloping shoulders are ideal in ballet, and the width should be about the same as the hips)
3) weak ankles (they wobble like mad en pointe!)

The ideal ballet body measured from the top of the head to the tail bone should measure about the same as the tail bone to the floor. Too bad my legs aren't THAT long, but they're okay anyway.

I found out from someone called David Kinsella who made documentaries on Russian dancers that the perfect ballet body is calculated by:-

1) Taking your height in cm (I'm 5ft 3in, therefore 160 cm)
2) Deducting the number 127 from the number (160 - 127)
3) That is your ideal weight in kgs (my ideal weight is 33kgs!)

Now that's totally crazy!

But it does help to explain why anorexia and bulimia are ever present in the ballet world.

"A dancer's body is her instrument." Any dance student who has studied dance for a number of years can recite that phrase. Over the years it would have been drummed into her over and over and over again by her dance teacher.

Every week she would have worn a pair of thights and a leotard, stood in a studio surrounded by mirrors and have every part of her body from her head to her toes scrutinized. Every part of her physique needs to be perfect and perfectly aligned and positioned for her to master the difficult moves required in ballet.

If I were to hazard a guess as to why being thin becomes so important to the dancer, I'd say it would be because it's the easiest part of her to 'control'! Mastering any step takes months of careful and constant practise, training any part of the body to obey one's instruction takes years!

In contrast, losing weight is easy and quick - dancers burn tons of calories in a dance class and the discipline honed through years of ballet makes denying oneself easy. And always, in ballet, weight loss is met with approval from peers and teachers alike.

The rest of the world may cry out, "You're too thin! You're too pale!" but the ballet world approves of thinness, and pale features with dark eyes are prized in order to give the 'ethreal' look that classical ballet dancers are trying to project (something less prized in today's more 'contemporary' world as demonstrated in movies like Centrestage!).

(to be continued)


  1. Can i use this article for class presentation? just some excerpts, not the full article though