Kerry1968

What will a ballerina look like in 2062?

17 posts in this topic

In a podcast on iTunes U, Joan Acocella commented that Diana Adams would have been regarded as "a freak" by ballet audiences of the 19th Century. She was commenting on the very great changes in the ballerina's physique which have occurred over the last century.

This got me to wondering if those physical changes won't continue on and on. There's no reason to suppose that evolution stops with Sylvie Guillem (or is there?).

And so I'd like to pose this completely hypothetical question: what will the ideal ballerina body be in fifty years? And, from our present day perspective, will the ballerinas of the future be "freaks"?

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Body-type wise, there has been certainly a movement toward hyper extension and muscularity in females. Not too much can be still invented then...the body naturally stops at one point developing, and still it ought to be constricted by certain preconceived ideas that we inherited from the XIX Century, from photos and lithographs. A ballerina, even if she works out in gyms nowadays, will never be as developed as a female bodybuilder. About sizes, I think the controversy will keep going on, as they were, are and will be great technicians that were or will never be able to be a size zero. That has happened at all times in the history of ballet-(didn't Kschessinskaya feel sorry for "poor little Pavlova" being so skinny and fragile when she was teaching her some role due to her pregnancy..?). I believe that there's a little whispering around about not going that extremely thin...and if that's what the future can be, so welcome.

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Unfortunately, like the heroine of "Avatar" and the daughter in "The Incredibles."

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I do think that the emphasis on extreme flexibility and thinness will prevail but I think that it is possible that body types other than “tall and willowy” will be more accepted so long they are still very flexible and very thin.

For better or worse, I think that by 2062, there will have been a complete backlash against certain aspects of what we now consider classical ballet and classical ballet choreography. I think that the fluidity of movement that you see in certain contemporary dance choreography (like Lar Lubovitch) will eventually come to be regarded as more in a keeping with the spirit and progression of classical dance than the more static, sometimes pose-heavy, classical choreography of ballets like Paquita and Swan Lake. So I think that the now-familiar versions of story ballets will be performed far less, and there will be an increasing push to redo them with new choreography when they are performed. I think too that the increasing concern over the physical damage that can result from 180 degree turnout in standing positions and pointe work will come to a head and eventually mean that these aesthetics will no longer have the prominence that they do now. If classical ballet in 2012 looks like a more-or-less traditional performance of a Petipa work, I think by 2062 it will look more like Paul Taylor’s “Airs”, still classical-based technique, still performed to classical music, but less academic steps in actual performances, more fluidity of movement and costumes, and without pointe shoes.

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I think by 2062 it will look more like Paul Taylor’s “Airs”, still classical-based technique, still performed to classical music, but less academic steps in actual performances, more fluidity of movement and costumes, and without pointe shoes.

God... save me from that sight...

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Unfortunately, like the heroine of "Avatar" and the daughter in "The Incredibles."

That's my intuitive sense too

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Female principals and soloists will be shorter due to the avg shorter height of male dancers. Male dancers will be more widely accepted and revered by society.

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Female principals and soloists will be shorter due to the avg shorter height of male dancers. Male dancers will be more widely accepted and revered by society.

Interesting, and counter to my original agreement about those who go for long legs and willowy appearance. Your pragmatic explanation makes sense, bagg.

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Balanchine loved to have tall women with medium/medium-tall sized men. Although tiny Madeleine Eastoe is one of my favorite dancers -- because she dances as if she were 5'7" -- I would rue the day when ballerinas are like tiny gymnasts.

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Wasn't that Balanchine after seeing Isadora Duncan? If not, I'm sure he said something equally rude.

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If the current trend continues, future ballerinas will look like the 2012 U.S. Women's gymnastic team. Bulky and muscular with athletic prowess but without an ounce of grace or elegance. Many people even ballet fans today equate ballet with sports or overvalue athleticism in ballet, so it makes sense that future ballerinas will have powerful builds and sportier technique overwhelmingly prized over innate lyricism. Natalia Osipova has jumpstarted this trend IMO.

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I think there will be less one overarching trend and a greater appreciation for a variety of physiques. There will be short Odettes and Myrthas, athletic Auroras and Giselles. And I think it will be a good thing, because artistry and stage presence will count for more than size. It seems to be happening already, with small dancers like Osipova and Obraztsova leaving their home companies for greener pastures with more acceptance of dancers breaking type.

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