Reactions to "Big Ballet."
However, a nagging doubt remained about what could have been a welcome boot up the tutu for ballet’s often criticised body fascism. Rather than lumping a load of big dancers together, surely a truly revolutionary approach would have been a Swan Lake that broke every kind of size and shape boundary?
The performance was accomplished and certainly not laughable. More engrossing, however, was observing the effect of this success on the dancers. Dance graduate Emma Roby, who works in a sweet shop, said that she used to be sent to the back of her ballet class to blend in with the boys. Performing for Sleep gave her back her confidence. Hannah started ballet lessons at three, but gave up auditioning two years ago, feeling “trapped” by her size. The show, she said, had given her “freedom”.
That first generation of ballerinas hated the leotard, and many who'd never considered the idea of dieting suddenly became conscious of their weight. Alexandra Danilova, who had been surviving on semi-starvation rations in the chaos of post-revolutionary Russia, had defected to the west in 1924, to join Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes. Two years later, in a bizarrely ironic reversal, she found herself experimenting with diet pills, taking so many that on one occasion she passed out.