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Dancers from the past

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I'm not sure weither I should post it here.

Have you noticed that dancers on pictures from the 40s and 50s looked very different from how they look now? It seems that nobody had that amazin "swan neck" arched foot nor did they have that athletic looking legs. But still; people continue to praise dancers from the past. Isn't it possible that those dancers from the past wouldn't even make it to the corps today? The female dancers looked, well, more like women

Exactly when did the dancer's body become so different?

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Hi Susanne

I have moved your post to the Discovering Ballet board as it is more suited to that forum:D

I do agree with you, with regards to differences in dancers bodies, and yes probably none of those dancers would make it in the more prominent ballet corps of today, which I guess is a great loss, but times do change.

Exactly when did the dancers body become so different, with my limited knowledge my answer would be Balanchine. I am sure if I did more research I would find it wasn't, hopefully someone on here can point the right way :)

I know he chose dancers specifically for a certain look that he personally liked to see in a woman, and that made his visions come to life.

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Susanne, you might be interested in these two earlier discussions - both stemming from photos of the Royal Ballet's 1946 production of Sleeping Beauty.



It's interesting that the younger dancers have a different take on this.

Xena - this discussion talks more about the "chicken and egg" question of the current look in ballet and Balanchine.


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Thanks for moving it Xena!

And thanks for the links to those threads with the beautiful pictures Mr Witchel! They were really interesting since I recently saw a production of the Sleepin Beauty myself!

I wonder why there were very few dancers with those really high arches which are very common today. Is it possible that the reason is that pointe shoes were made differently?

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I believe you are right about pointe shoes, Susanne--strong feet with low arches used to be considered ideal for a dancer because shoes offered less support. Now that pointe shoes are stronger, people with high arches are able to dance en pointe more easily--the shoe makes up for the difference. One thing has not changed: the preference for toes of even length, which spread out the weight of the dancer and do not place all the stress on one toe. However, having toes of uneven length still does not make it impossible to dance en pointe with all the products like spacers and pads.

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