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Ballet or bust?


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#1 sejacko

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 04:30 AM

I thought I'd better start a completely separate thread for this (rather delicate) topic, although it is something I was wondering during yesterday's Mariinsky Sleeping Beauty performance at the ROH. (Let me say at this point, that as a gay man, I don't get any kicks out of gawking at ballerinas' bosums).

But I did notice that in Act 3, one of the soloists had a rather more fullsome bust that one normally sees on ballerinas. She was very good, and seemed to be.. shall we say.. extremely well-supported.

It made me wonder, from a purely practical point of view, whether this can be a problem for young aspiring ballerinas..?

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 10:16 AM

I don't know about the problem you allude to, sejacko, but the word "fulsome" (frequently misspelled), presents its own problems. It is not simply a synonym for "full" or "ample," but means something much worse. As someone once said, you could look it up.

#3 Helene

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 10:26 AM

According to Merriam-Webster, the primary meanings are "a. characterized by abundance" and "b. : generous in amount, extent, or spirit: while subsequent meanings were pejorative:
2: aesthetically, morally, or generally offensive
3: exceeding the bounds of good taste
4: excessively complimentary or flattering

and

Fulsome became a point of dispute when sense 1, thought to be obsolete in the 19th century, began to be revived in the 20th. The dispute was exacerbated by the fact that the large dictionaries of the first half of the century missed the beginnings of the revival. Sense 1 has not only been revived but has spread in its application and continues to do so. The chief danger for the user of fulsome is ambiguity. Unless the context is made very clear, the reader or hearer cannot be sure whether such an expression as “fulsome praise” is meant in sense 1b or in sense 4.


http://www.merriam-w...tionary/fulsome

#4 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 12:40 PM

I guess this is not a forbidden topic, and I'm sure we all have seen some examples of the issue. Without naming names, I must say I was a little surprised at seeing a ballerina from a top company exhibiting a VERY generous chest a while ago during a guest appearance here in Miami. The look was even more awkward because she is NOT a full figure girl at all...
If this is just a matter of mother nature, well...fine...not the most typical form in a female dancer, but it is what it is. Now, if the assets are a result pf surgical procedures, then something is wrong.
I read in a book-(I think in that "Unmaking of a dancer")-that the author used to see one of the girls in class having a lot of trouble with the same issue, and she used to wrap herself over and over and very tight with elastic wraps in order to diminish the visual effect. And that she was NOT happy at all about it...

#5 Helene

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 12:46 PM

I was surprised to see some relatively busty corps members in the Bolshoi corps recently.

#6 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:10 PM

(Let me say at this point, that as a gay man, I don't get any kicks out of gawking at ballerinas' bosums).


I wonder if this happens frequently, I mean that one doesn't. I'm not gay, but as an Occasional Bisexualist, I like to gawk at the bosums.

I don't know about the problem you allude to, sejacko, but the word "fulsome" (frequently misspelled), presents its own problems. It is not simply a synonym for "full" or "ample," but means something much worse. As someone once said, you could look it up.


:sweatingbullets:

#7 Helene

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 07:29 PM

(Let me say at this point, that as a gay man, I don't get any kicks out of gawking at ballerinas' bosums).

I remember that Christopher d'Amboise described in his memoir how one day -- I think it was on tour -- the men were able to see through the windows into the women's dressing room, where one of the more endowed members of the corps was changing. He said that all of the corps men gathered to watch her with bated breath, gay and straight, until she caught them watching.

#8 Hans

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 08:13 PM

To answer your question, sejacko, we just had a thread on this very topic over on BT for Dancers. The answer is that it can indeed be a problem for aspiring ballet dancers, frequently due to unreasonable teachers or artistic directors, but that a nontraditional body type does not mean they have no hope of a career. Although the best companies often have the strictest body type requirements (which I understand but find unfortunate, as ballerinas were allowed to have a feminine silhouette through the 1950's at least, so obviously there is no technical or aesthetic reason for being extremely thin aside from fashion) many smaller or regional companies have more relaxed standards in terms of body type.

One point to keep in mind is that a classical tutu looks best on dancers with defined hips, waist, and bust. I recently saw a video of a well-known company and was surprised at how masculine the women's bodies looked in tutus because of their extreme thinness. It was not a pleasing aesthetic. There are supportive garments (that are invisible under leotards or costumes) available for female dancers, so it need not be an issue on the stage.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 05:22 AM

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was an ad that appeared in ballet programs with a photo of a dancer, in tutu, and wearing only a bra. A sturdy piece of construction that a Viking Warrioress might don before going into battle. The caption was: "I dreamt I was a ballerina in my Maidenform bra." (or was it "I dreamt I danced a ballet"?) You can tell from photos and films from that period that women of whatever size wore armor while dancing (and everywhere else, of course, before the Bra Burners).

#10 Mashinka

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 05:43 AM

I noticed her too (straight woman, just to make things clear), because it is unusual in the ballet. As far as I'm aware she is new, so I'm not certain of the name, but she was actually rather good, very musical and unlike so many Kirov girls can dance well at a faster tempo.

#11 bart

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 05:45 AM

Alexandra, you piqued my curiosity. I think it was "I dreamed I danced in a ballet in my Maidenform Bra." Old friend Google did not turn up a copy of the ad, but it did lead me to a poem published a few years in Ploughshares which contrasts Maidenform dream and Maidenform reality. The ballet ad is referred to in stanza 5.

http://www.pshares.o...marticleid=7926

#12 dirac

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 02:37 PM

I don't know about the problem you allude to, sejacko, but the word "fulsome" (frequently misspelled), presents its own problems. It is not simply a synonym for "full" or "ample," but means something much worse. As someone once said, you could look it up.


This particular misuse of fulsome has been around for awhile, so it's not unique to you, sejacko. :angel_not: I remember Gelsey Kirkland referring in her first book, edited by the late Jacqueline Onassis, to "fulsome breasts." Not Gelsey's fault, of course, but you'd think a copy editor would have come to her aid.

#13 sejacko

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 09:59 PM

Thanks for coming to my rescue, dirac.

"Pedants rush in where angels fear to tread." :wallbash:

#14 dirac

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:05 PM

Happy to assist, sejacko. :(

Fulsome became a point of dispute when sense 1, thought to be obsolete in the 19th century, began to be revived in the 20th. The dispute was exacerbated by the fact that the large dictionaries of the first half of the century missed the beginnings of the revival.


I think ‘revival’ is a neutral way of saying, in the manner of many contemporary dictionaries, that people began misusing the term and the large dictionaries of the first half of the century continued to uphold the by then settled upon and accepted pejorative sense(s) of the word. The difficulty is that if you use ‘fulsome’ to mean abundant or generous in a positive sense, as Kirkland did, you run the risk of looking foolish or ignorant. It would be helpful for naive readers of Merriam-Webster if the dictionary warned of this risk, but it sounds as if it doesn’t.

My American Heritage dictionary is more helpful. It notes accurately that the pejorative meanings are the primary ones, placing the positive meaning at #3, and adds a usage note that makes the whole business clear for its readers, suggesting that they not use fulsome in a positive sense to avoid any potential confusion.

(Sorry for going off toic, but it really annoys me when dictionaries hew to their descriptive goals without considering that people also come to them for prescriptive guidance.)

He said that all of the corps men gathered to watch her with bated breath, gay and straight, until she caught them watching.


I add to this that all people tend to be distracted by nudity or anatomical irregularities such as very large breasts or a very flat chest, and one’s personal sexuality doesn’t enter into it much, I think.

#15 Helene

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 05:21 PM

I think ‘revival’ is a neutral way of saying, in the manner of many contemporary dictionaries, that people began misusing the term and the large dictionaries of the first half of the century continued to uphold the by then settled upon and accepted pejorative sense(s) of the word.

Except that the original definition was the settled upon definition until it was replaced. Why is it impossible for the usage to change again, with the original definition now the proper one?


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