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dirac

An anti-doping body for dance?

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The clinical director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet says there's a problem that needs to be addressed:

 

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Nick Allen of the Birmingham Royal Ballet has spoken out after an investigation uncovered evidence of steroid and amphetamine abuse in ballet and other dance companies.

 

Thoughts?

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It's certainly a big health issue -- I know in the past people have abused all kinds of drugs, but it's not quite the same thing as the "level playing field" concerns in sports.

 

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Wouldn’t you have some of the same concerns in a different form? Certainly in dance there would be no problems with yanking back someone’s medal or changing orders of finish, but perhaps a dancer who is using in order to improve endurance and shorten muscle/injury recovery times would presumably enjoy a benefit over dancers who are clean?

(Per the article, Allen is suggesting only educational remedies and not drug testing or related punitive measures.)

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I couldn't read the whole article, but how extensive is the study?  Has ut been peer reviewed?  How would the dancer union respond?  How much of the drug use is recreational vs performance enhancement?

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9 hours ago, Jayne said:

I couldn't read the whole article, but how extensive is the study?  Has ut been peer reviewed?  How would the dancer union respond?  How much of the drug use is recreational vs performance enhancement?

 

Don't know if it works outside the UK but you can now register with The Times and read 2 articles per week.

 

I think Nick Allen is correct in that it is an educational issue.  We've seen enough reports in the UK over the years about the effects on the body of, for example, long term use of steroids once the taker stops taking them.  This message needs to be rammed home.

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I am surrpised there has not been a lot of talk about this before. :) 

I remember not a few dance-students taking drugs to "enhance" their dancing or help them lose weight back when I was studying. 

There were drugs (cocaine, heroin, amphetamines...) in several of the companies I worked with; though it did not appear to be widespread. 

(alcohol was much more a problem...) 

Definitely agree that it is necessary to educate the dancers, and also the choreographers and directors (who are not always looking to the best health interests of their dancers, because there are deadlines and there is competition for contracts to make new pieces) to the necessity of long-enough breaks between shows/rehearsals, etc., as well as anatomically intelligent movements which do not put the dancer under undue pressure to over-and-over do things which are harmful to the body, though they look amazing. 

 

-d-

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Fair and effective drug testing regimes are expensive to design, implement, and maintain, both in terms of blood and treasure. The arts have better things to do with their scarce resources.

 

Educate by all means — and that means ADs, administrators, and board members as well as the dancers. 

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I disagree wholeheartedly.  Scarce resources should be spent on the health of the dancers.  Mandatory drug testing should be done at all feeder schools that are connected to professional companies as well.  ;)  You can not leave this up to Artistic Directors as they can have a conflict of interest of sorts.  For example, teachers and/or artistic directors are involved in recreational drug use as well or encouraging unhealthy eating disorders by praising students for looking "really good and working hard", when in fact they induced vomiting right before class.    Education is key, but is only effective to those who are open to receiving it.  

Edited by nicolc

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16 hours ago, nicolc said:

I disagree wholeheartedly.  Scarce resources should be spent on the health of the dancers.  Mandatory drug testing should be done at all feeder schools that are connected to professional companies as well.  ;)  You can not leave this up to Artistic Directors as they can have a conflict of interest of sorts.  For example, teachers and/or artistic directors are involved in recreational drug use as well or encouraging unhealthy eating disorders by praising students for looking "really good and working hard", when in fact they induced vomiting right before class.    Education is key, but is only effective to those who are open to receiving it.  

Sounds like most of you want a police state. 

 

I think you are going to get one soon, enjoy it.

 

Dancers are private individuals, making not very good money. It's ridiculous and fascistic to force them to submit to drug tests.

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2 hours ago, aurora said:

Sounds like most of you want a police state. 

 

I think you are going to get one soon, enjoy it.

 

Dancers are private individuals, making not very good money. It's ridiculous and fascistic to force them to submit to drug tests.

 

As far as I am aware people from many professions can be subjected to drug/alcohol tests.

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Yes, resources should be directed towards artists' health and wellbeing. As in universal, affordable health care, including mental health and substance abuse programs. 

 

Drug testing alone will do nothing to address dancers' health. 

 

And, keep in mind that a number of states prohibit employee drug testing without cause. 

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Dancers are private individuals, making not very good money. It's ridiculous and fascistic to force them to submit to drug tests.

 

Many private individuals are required to submit to drug tests, rightly or not, so welcome to fascism (not that I'm inclined to make jokes about that just now).

 

Many dancers are faced with tenuous employment and a career that can end prematurely overnight. Precisely the sort of circumstances that might engender a turn to various substances in hopes of improving performance and speeding up recovery from injury and daily wear-and-tear. I'm not advocating drug testing, mind, but nicolc is correct to point out that people have to be open to education for it to succeed, and education alone is not always effective.

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1 minute ago, dirac said:

 

Many private individuals are required to submit to drug tests, rightly or not, so welcome to fascism (not that I'm inclined to make jokes about that just now).

 

Many dancers are faced with tenuous employment and a career that can end prematurely overnight. Precisely the sort of circumstances that might engender a turn to various substances in hopes of improving performance and speeding up recovery from injury and daily wear-and-tear. I'm not advocating drug testing, mind, but nicolc is correct to point out that people have to be open to education for it to succeed, and education alone is not always effective.

Oh I'm not joking about it either.

 

I pretty much agree with everything you have said, and I have no problem with educational programs directed at dancers and their health. I just don't think requiring drug testing is an appropriate response.

 

Except where drug use could impact safety (train drivers, pilots, etc.) I don't see why it is anyone's business.

I think its intrusive and would create a situation where dancers are treated like children even more than is currently the case (big brother is watching!)

We know what is best for you!

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Let's leave aside fascism and police states for the moment and focus on more practical matters. In sports, drug testing and enforcement regimes are generally designed, administered, adjudicated, and funded by private or semi-private organizational bodies such as the IOC, professional sports leagues, etc. that have effective control over sport or athletic even in question. The stakeholders — league officials, player's unions, team owners — have a say in the program's structure, what happens in the event of a violation, and the avenues for appeal. 

 

What international body could design, establish, run, and enforce a drug testing or anti-doping regime for dance? The professional ballroom competition body mentioned in the article is akin to a sports league and can offer up the same kind of carrots and sticks. What would induce a dance company to sign up for an anti-doping regime? What are the carrots? What are the sticks? Who will pay for it? Who will run it?

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Aurora - I do not advocate a police state -- I advocate a drug-free society.  I also am a public education educator who was submitted to a drug test before employment.  My four children and all of their friends are submitted to drug tests for employment as well.   I do not intend for dancers, or any human, to go to jail, but to get the help and counseling they need to lead a fulfilling, drug-free, and healthy career in dance.  Because it would better the situation that exists today.  And I speak from direct experience.  

 

You make false equivalencies when you equate my desires to those of Donald Trump.  I acknowledge a problem that many brush under the rug in this area.  And I hope I get what I want, because what I want is for the greater good.  

Edited by nicolc

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The approach taken by professional and Olympic sport organizations (usually involving fines and bans) isn't going to fit well with stage arts like dance. Ongoing education in the schools and ballet companies is important, but dance culture has to actively promote health, nutrition, physical therapy and training regimens over any "quick fixes" in the form of pharmaceuticals and the like. I personally see a fairly constant number of articles in magazines and on dance blogs that talk about nutrition for dancers, or what a particular dancer does in the off-season to stay in shape, but there is room for more. It would be nice to see a unified effort within the ballet world to maintain a conversation about not only what not to do, but the many things that do work in making an athlete/dancer healthy and fit, and how to build strength and stamina, etc for lasting effects.

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In a drug-free society, which substances are OK and which aren't? Who decides and on what basis? Is a zero-tolerance drug testing regime the best way to address the real problems of abuse and addiction? 

 

Ideally, anyone who was drug-dependent would have access to effective treatment programs and would be both encouraged to use them and supported while they did. 

 

An aside: anti-doping programs are not the same as anti-drug programs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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