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What Is a Ballet Body? by Gia Kourlas


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9 hours ago, dirac said:

Well, JuliaJ is entitled to her view, which is fair enough. Naturally we want people to feel good about themselves but they also have to be able to get out onstage. It's a matter of striking that sometimes difficult balance and companies offering proper support and guidance to their dancers. (I don't like the superthin look but I also don't care for the overmuscled athletic look, myself. )

Everyone has their preferences, and their notions of art and aesthetics. And for some reason, people tend to think that the prevailing standard is 'just the way things are and have always been'. Which never bares up under any amount of investigation. Anna Pavlova, Alexandra Danilova, Galina Ulanova and Diana Vishneva all have one thing in common: they were trained at the Mariinsky/Imperial Ballet. And that seems to be about it for their physical and artistic similarities. Things change even while we're fighting to maintain a certain sameness.

Getting back to the article, one of the more interesting points for me was this bit:

'Miami City Ballet has a policy not to discuss its former dancers. But in speaking generally about the aesthetic requirement of thinness, Lourdes Lopez, the company’s artistic director, said she hoped that would change. “For me, this Covid thing has been a real kind of paradigm shift,” she said. “It’s been like a great reset.” And that means, she said, “everything from what we view as a body type” to “the color of one’s skin onstage.”'

Kourlas is putting words in Lopez's mouth here since we don't actually get a quote from Lopez around "hoping" for change. But hope tends to be the recourse of the desperate. Lopez is an A.D. - if she's not in a position to affect change, then who is? And whose standard is she maintaining if it's not her own? We've all heard the saying, "Be the change you hope to see in the world" but I'm not getting the sense that anyone is trying too hard to affect change at MCB.

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5 hours ago, Buddy said:

I would generally agree with this, Dirac, and with others who've expressed similar feelings. One description you didn't mention is 'wholesomeness.' A ballerina that's caught my attention is the Mariinsky's Maria Bulanova. She can be easily seen on internet video clips.
 

Wholesome - there's a word I haven't heard in a while. That sounds like the domain of the Disney Corporation (at least at one time). But Disney's reinforcement of Jim Crow viewpoints while touting their family-oriented content was anything but wholesome to me. So what exactly is "wholesome" in this context? And how could it be a universally understood attribute?

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35 minutes ago, pherank said:

Wholesome - there's a word I haven't heard in a while. That sounds like the domain of the Disney Corporation (at least at one time). But Disney's reinforcement of Jim Crow viewpoints while touting their family-oriented content was anything but wholesome to me. So what exactly is "wholesome" in this context? And how could it be a universally understood attribute?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Definition of wholesome
1 : promoting health or well-being of mind or spirit
2 : promoting health of body
3a : sound in body, mind, or morals
etc.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wholesome

"Sound in body,[and hopefully] mind, or morals" -- Maria Bulanova -- see internet video examples. As a matter of fact I was just about to watch one myself.  😊

Added: "Everyone has their preferences, and their notions of art and aesthetics." -- Pherank.  I agree.


 

Edited by Buddy
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20 minutes ago, Buddy said:

3a : sound in body, mind, or morals

"Sound in body,[and hopefully] mind, or morals" -- Maria Bulanova -- see internet video examples. As a matter of fact I was just about to watch one myself.  😊

 

Thanks for defining your term, Buddy. Few people do.  😉

It's the whole "sound in morals" part, and arguably sound in mind and body, that will be hard to find universal agreement on. Every culture and sub-culture, and individual, has there own notion of these things. In the case of ballet, the classical dance culture has had notions of acceptable physique and behavior that the larger culture doesn't necessarily agree with. Or the healthcare industry for that matter.

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8 minutes ago, pherank said:

It's the whole "sound in morals" part, and arguably sound in mind and body, that will be hard to find universal agreement on.

I don't think there are many aesthetic qualities that get universal agreement on exactly what they mean or the degree to which they're realized in individual cases, but those qualities can still be useful to consider.

(Also, morals needn't necessarily be at issue, given the definitions above.)

Edited by nanushka
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45 minutes ago, Balletwannabe said:

 “It’s been like a great reset.” 

Covid has led to "a reset" in regards to dancers bodies🤔??  How did it do that?

We won't know until the theaters reopen.

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14 hours ago, Mashinka said:

I doubt there is a dancer anywhere in the world to compare with Lynn Seymour.  She had a body that would mean rejection today, but such artistry comes once in a generation.  The thought that there may be gifted dancers out there discarded because they don't conform to the current fad for emaciation troubles me greatly.   

More than one great ballerina has said she would be rejected by ballet schools today. Their absence from ballet history would have been an incalculable loss. No doubt ballet is passing over irreplaceable talents today.

As for waists, most female dancers today have very narrow hips. They have rectangular torsos on which waists are barely visible, as alluded to in this self-deprecating post.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BtVpQfojiXy/ 

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3 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

 “It’s been like a great reset.” 

Covid has led to "a reset" in regards to dancers bodies🤔??  How did it do that?

It's been a great year for pizzerias, I understand.

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I can't think of a dancer today with a physique similar to Moira Shearer's.  I'm intrigued that this photo is by Gordon Parks,  the legendary Black American photographer not known for photos of dancers.  I suspect that the taste for high retirés and near 180 degree a la secondes has caused today's dancers to have thicker, more  muscular waistlines than ballerinas of the past.

moira-shearer-performing-ballet-dance-ne

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