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Contentious issue?

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#16 Calliope


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Posted 13 November 2002 - 01:42 PM

in "The Dancer's Body Book" there's several conversations about smoking with different dancers. I think it was Allegra Kent that either wrote it or co-authored.
It's a bit dated, but a decent insight.

#17 citibob


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Posted 13 November 2002 - 01:53 PM

Hey, I don't know why smoking is considered a contentious issue (it is elsewhere also). There is no doubt that it's bad for you, that it makes it harder to dance, that it costs precious money, and that it shortens life. So what's there to disagree about here?

#18 dirac


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Posted 13 November 2002 - 02:53 PM

I think Antony meant "contentious" in the sense that while everyone agrees smoking is bad for you, there's often been controversy about how far to go in outlawing the practice, incidents of outright public rudeness to smokers, the effects of secondhand smoke, that kind of thing.

#19 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 13 November 2002 - 03:31 PM

Most interesting. folks... Indeed, so interesting that I lit another fag...:D

#20 grace


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Posted 14 November 2002 - 01:00 AM

i certainly do recall seeing old film, early videotape, and B/W photos of dancers and/or staff smoking during rehearsals - "to pass the time" - and i do recall teachers smoking in class, when i was a child - but, in australia at least, i THINK (hope?) that would be unimaginable now.

heavens, i DO even know dance teachers and ballet examiners who smoke, even now, but i feel sure they would not only NOT do it while working, but also would make at least a minimal attempt to not be seen by their students 'doing it'...

also, as someone has pointed out above about the US, in most public venues in australia, there are prohibitions on smoking - which just means that people go outside to do it.

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 04:35 AM

I'd say that in the US, local laws and ordinances have been less effective in curbing smoking indoors, but building owners have been more effective by declaring "no smoking" in their buildings because of higher insurance rates for buildings allowing smoking. Higher insurance premiums get passed on to the renters in the form of higher rents. This from serving on several boards, building committees and vestries.

#22 Alexandra


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Posted 14 November 2002 - 04:43 AM

Mel, in D.C., it's the laws. There's no place left to smoke here, except outside.

We could make a list of dancers who died of lung cancer. Erik Bruhn, Toni Lander, Inge Sand, Nicholas Magallanes.....

#23 archaeo


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Posted 14 November 2002 - 04:47 AM

Going back to an earlier point in the discussion:

Alexandra wrote:

"I've always been surprised when I see a dancer with a cigarette, because of the effect on lung capacity."

When my daughter was at Idyllwild Arts Academy, 6,000 feet up in the San Jacinto mountains of Southern California, we were shocked that any of the dancers smoked. I had enough trouble just walking around in the thin atmosphere, let alone dancing. The thought of someone smoking, and then dancing, up there was amazing to me. Yet, every year, someone would be suspended for smoking, or sent to counselling to help them stop smoking.

#24 Guest_Antony_*

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Posted 14 November 2002 - 05:28 AM

Originally posted by citibob
Hey, I don't know why smoking is considered a contentious issue (it is elsewhere also).

I guess I'm more than a little wary of upsetting people here who smoke (which would be just about everyone, if the anecdotes were true! :eek: ). I've been surprised in the past by how heated people can get in defence of the habit - I wouldn't have cared so much, except that they were also good friends (and still are. Doesn't change my opinion of smoking, though.)

An issue that doesn't square up for me is the one Alexandra touched on, in mentioning lung capacity. I always see dancers as striving, via any means possible, for the pinnacle of fitness and health - more than any other group. But if smoking has as much of an impact on one's lungs as we're led to believe, then a cigarette would be more of a no-no than having a bag of lard-filled donuts with extra cream for every meal.

I guess I can sort of understand why some doctors smoke - like everything else, we all know it carries long-term risks that you can weigh up with some accuracy, as for driving a car. But in this case, I'd have thought that the more subtle effects (such as loss of lung capacity) would simply make it impractical for a professional dancer to smoke regularly.


#25 diane


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Posted 15 November 2002 - 09:25 AM

I guess I will jump in here after all. :)

All of my career as a dancer was spent in Europe, and many of the dancers smoked; including, for some years, myself...stupid of me, I know.
Not all dancers smoked; but many.

There was not the publicity here that there was in the US during the late 60s and the 70s against smoking, and it shows.
(As I left the US in the early 70s, never to return, I do not know if this campaign continued or not; I imagine it did...)

As to lung-compacity: while I was dancing and smoking, I actually did not consciously notice that my lungs were compromised.
Only when I stopped did I notice a difference.
Ballet is not exactly an aerobic activity; and short-term power was possible even with compromised lung capacity.
However, jogging became much easier when I stopped.

Now I am practically an anti-smoking fanatic.
One of my daughters is allergic to cigarette smoke and gets asthma attacks if too near to someone who is smoking.
It is sheer impossible to avoid second-hand smoke here.

It is nearly everywhere.

In the ballet schools many teachers smoke, though not in the studios.


#26 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 15 November 2002 - 04:55 PM

I have a feeling that this discussion is becoming a bit silly.
When I was a teacher of English and ballet at a state school in Southern Spain in the late 60ties and early 70ties an ashtray was
provided at the teacher`s desk. Not so in ballet class - but there was also an open window!
Now there is a different argument thou...
Not exposing young people to anything - smoke - pollution - pets -what have you... OK, I have actually been in Russia and, pardon me, there was filth such as I have never seen before - and I have been around - but kids did not seem as allergic there as in Sweden. OK, now I am talking about normal kids, the ones I met;
those I were contact with, not street urchains. Ok, there were also many children begging at traffic lights. and they seemed to
be in a bad shaoe.
It may be so that exposure to various things might make the
constitution stronger...

#27 dirac


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Posted 15 November 2002 - 05:12 PM

There is actually some evidence, I understand, that overprotection from germs and the like can create greater vulnerability to them -- apparently immune systems get better with exercise. :)

People do seem to fret overmuch about the occasional whiff of secondhand smoke, when we are surrounded by so much else that is bad for us. (I have a theory about this, but I'll spare you. :)) However, I'm not sorry to be spared the uninhibited huffing and puffing that went on everywhere years ago was virtually inescapable, in fact. People would just blow the stuff directly into your face, and think nothing of it.

#28 beckster



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Posted 17 November 2002 - 05:21 AM

I am a total believer in the idea that the immune system needs to be trained. Your immune system is thoroughly naive when you are a baby, and you have to expose it to allergens so that it knows what is harmless and what isn't. That is how the immune system works - it has to know its enemy before it can defend the body. Of course there are people who would be sensitive to pollen, smoke, or whatever, anyway, but as a general rule the immune system needs to encounter lots of things when you are a child, or it overreacts to everything.

#29 Mel Johnson

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Posted 17 November 2002 - 07:06 AM

Then there are the people who, for extraphysiological reasons, go on about smoke. I belong to a church where the use of incense was curtailed because of complaints from the alleged allergic who said it caused them respiratory distress. One year, we had a supply priest who didn't know about the herem on incense and so elected to make a Christmas Mass a Solemn one, with the incense and extra choreography and the whole schmier. Part of the extra choreography was a procession of the sanctuary party around the outside of the church in a driving slush storm. Father was all right, because he had a proper cloak for that sort of thing, but we lay ministers and acolytes had to do the best we could. So, when the sanctuary party arrived in the church, dripping, as we advanced up the aisle, three choristers began loudly and vehemently sneezing. They said it was from the thurible(censer). The only problem with that explanation was that in the driving slush, the charcoal in the censer had been extinguished, and there was about an inch of water in the fool thing. Its gas output was somewhere near zero.;)

#30 Estelle


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Posted 18 November 2002 - 03:22 AM

diane wrote:
"It is sheer impossible to avoid second-hand smoke here.

It is nearly everywhere."

I agree with that- and I think it's especially bad in France (I'm really fed up with that attitude typical of some French people that "laws are for other people only"... about smoking in public places, driving while drunk or over the speed limit, etc.) One of my best friends is allergic to smoke (her eyes and throat itch a lot, it's a consequence of another allergy to acarians, I think). Well, it was totally impossible for us to find a restaurant to go to in Marseille, except in the summer season when we could have dinner or lunch outside. Very, very few restaurants there have separate rooms for smokers and non-smokers (though there are laws saying that they must- but nobody pays attention to that law, unfortunately) and in the few that have such rooms, the separation isn't good enough, there is some smoke going into the non-smokers part. Well, even at my wedding, though I insisted that smokers should smoke outside, there were people smoking in the dinner room (and my friend had to leave early). :)

From what I've read recently, the percentage of smokers among people between 15 and 24 in France is the highest in the European Union (53%, while the average is 41%, Sweden has the lowest figure with about 21%- however, I don't know how those statistics were made). I don't know about dancers. But I remember an anecdote which was told to me by a POB dancer: in Roland Petit's "Carmen", the dancers of the corps de ballet have to smoke during a scene- and she said that each time they performed it, there were some dancers who had stopped smoking who started smoking again after performing the ballet...

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