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Dance Injuries


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#16 Estelle

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Posted 09 January 2002 - 12:14 PM

It reminds me of a dancer who seriously injured her ankle twice in two years- and each time in the same role in the same Forsythe work... I think that she'd be quite reluctant to dance it again now.

#17 katharine kanter

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Posted 09 January 2002 - 12:30 PM

Estelle, what I meant about Mlle. Pontois, is that her delicate, unathletic style - like that of her exquisite daughter - is OUT. She definitely would not have been a "danseur polyvalent". I cannot imagine how she would have got through the POB's current repertory, which under Brigitte Lefevre, is now roughly 65 to 70% "modern".

Mlle. Pontois' dancing was something to think about, just as one can remember how thoughtfully her daughter has danced, in the wee little roles assigned to her. But neither of those ladies have ever produced the MASSIVE EFFECT of what Clement Crisp calls "extreme physicality".

There is a link between what is aesthetically shocking, the "frisson", and what is physically harmful.

Classical ballet has, until recently, been based upon the idea that one hides all effort. Effort does not exclude joy of the highest order, in fact, there is no joy of the highest order without effort.

Effort does not mean mindless, useless, suffering, however. Joan of Arc did not launch the campaign against the English, IN ORDER to end up burnt at the stake !

It has, until recently, been possible to hide the effort in ballet, because, hard as it is, it is NOT supposed to entail intense, shooting pain, dislocated shoulder joints, etc, nor should one habitually need anti-inflammatories and/or maximum strength pain-killers before going out on stage.

There is now so much effort, so much strain, so much forcing to the outer limit of Territorial Army Special Unit or SAS Commando capacity, that the application of energy and force can no longer be hidden. People are suffering, and it shows.

The spectator's conscience tells him, though secretly, that he SHOULD NOT BE WATCHING this stuff. He knows that he may find it "aesthetically" thrilling, but he also knows that he is, in a way, getting pleasure from others' suffering, perhaps even their permanent harm.

I can recall one performance, where I later learnt that the famous young star involved, had to have a massive anti-inflammatory injected, under anaesthetic, before going out that night in a demanding role. The star retired for good some three months later.

I do think that the public should build up a head of anger, against the use of artists in this irresponsible way.

As for the reason that the men have tended to suffer less from injury: this is likely due to two major factors: 1/ they are not expected to pick up the leg (although I fear that some in Russia are now pushing in that direction), to make grand jeté open at 180 degrees, as the women are, and otherwise, hyper-extend down Mlle Guillem's blazing path. Men are not expected to be enormously flexible and elastic (although again, the Russians seem increasingly to want this - see Ruzimatov, Malakhov, Tsiskaridze), and therefore have not stretched out their ligaments by age 22.

Women's training, at the moment, is generally of poorer quality than that of the man. There is too much emphasis, too much time wasted, on getting those legs up there, and on pointe work, which IMO should be a detail, a slight side-line. Not enough stress on clean foot-work, batterie, terre à terre, to build aplomb, stability, and strength. And jumping, all sorts of jumps, to build strength and stamina.

That being said, were accident statistics available for places such as the Frankfurt Ballett, where both the man, and the woman, are expected to do bizarre things to their joints, we might find that the accident rate is more or less equal for both.

2/ in order to have ultra-slender legs, men do not need to starve their torso. Therefore, they need not become anorexic. And of course, they do not wear the short classical tutu, surely the most unflattering, fattening garment ever devised ! Althogh prancing about on stage in nothing but a leotard is not precisely flattering either...

#18 Calliope

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Posted 09 January 2002 - 12:55 PM

I think it's hard to generalize all the dancers into one category for injury. Obviously each case will be individual.
But I'm not sure as an audience member don't find myself deriving pleasure from someone else's pain. Wendy Whelan at New York City Ballet can turn herself into a human rubberband at times, but I would hope for her sake, that she's not getting injected with drugs just so she can do that. At that point, somebody needs to bring in a psychologist.
I think, as the article says, we need to marry the medical and the teaching.
And I don't think any dancer becomes anorexic because they want slender legs. Male or female.

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 09 January 2002 - 01:10 PM

On the dieting to have slender legs issue, this is something I've noticed as well. (I can't speak to anorexia, which is a specific condition, and there are, I think, some very slender people who are not anorexic.) But there are also dancers who, I think, do not have a natural lines.

A colleague pointed this out to me once; I don't think I could have figured it out for myself. His example was Ruzimatov, whom he described as a character dancer who had pared off every ounce of body fat so that he could simulate line, which he did not naturally have. When I now see a very sinewy dancer -- male or female -- I remember that. I'm certainly no medical expert, but I would imagine that this could also have an effect on injuries. (Of course, true anorexia is a disease with hideous consequences.)

[ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]



#20 Estelle

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Posted 09 January 2002 - 03:25 PM

[quote]Originally posted by katharine kanter:
Estelle, what I meant about Mlle. Pontois, is that her delicate, unathletic style - like that of her exquisite daughter - is OUT. She definitely would not have been a "danseur polyvalent". I cannot imagine how she would have got through the POB's current repertory, which under Brigitte Lefevre, is now roughly 65 to 70% "modern".

Thanks for the clarification. However, I think that the figure of 65% might be too high: Lefèvre has added much modern works (most of them haven't been danced again after their premiere) to the repertory, but in general their have much shorter runs than the classical works (more than 20 "Bayadère" this season, for example).

[quote]
There is now so much effort, so much strain, so much forcing to the outer limit of Territorial Army Special Unit or SAS Commando capacity, that the application of energy and force can no longer be hidden. People are suffering, and it shows.


I'm afraid much of the ballet audience isn't fully conscious of the technical difficulty of what they see, and of the extreme physical effort it demands...

[quote]
As for the reason that the men have tended to suffer less from injury: this is likely due to two major factors:


Perhaps also it is because they dance less often?
In all the classics, the female corps de ballet dances a lot (Swans, shades, snowflakes...) and most of the men dance shorter roles...

[quote]
Althogh prancing about on stage in nothing but a leotard is not precisely flattering either...


That was pretty obvious in Neumeier's "Midsummer night dream" last summer at the Paris Opera (there are many scenes when the dancers, male and female, wear only pale green leotards with long sleeves. One dancer told me that with such costumes it was nearly impossible to eat anything before the performance, because one's stomach was so visible...)


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