“Traveling again – Side Bar”

“Traveling Again -Side Bar”
So after 3 days back home while teaching 2 of those days at Goucher College. I’m back on a plane and arrive at UNLV in Las Vegas to finish my work there.
SIDE BAR- I know a lot of students read this Blog and I have a question for you? I hope you will send me responses, even though it does not pertain to many of you.
The question is; “Why do many of you feel that it is okay to be Dance Students who are not physically fit?”
Dance is an Art Form that uses the human body as its instrument. The shape, line, structure and beauty of that form is the vehicle by which dance is expressed. Any deviation large or small is a deterrent to the Art Form.
Also as Artistic Athletes it is expected of us to be in top physical shape. If you were a member of a track, volleyball or swim team and were not in physical shape. You would be cut from the team. Unfortunately, in the dance departments of these same schools they fear litigation if they demand the same standards. That to me is a very sad state of affairs and worse I feel students who abuse this have no respect for the Art Form.
I have taught at Pre-professional Schools that have had an “Unhealthy Attitude” towards their student’s physical form. While at the same time retaining teachers who are not exactly role models for healthy physical shape (Go figure).
In the University system I have seen far better teacher role models. Yet they are frustrated by the ability to address this issue.
I do not advocate an unhealthy body. Yet at the same time it is embarrassing to see students that do not respect their own bodies or the Art Form.
The Arts are here to inspire the world. The next generation must meet that challenge. Nuff Said!
My Best, The Traveling Ballet Master

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7 Responses to “Traveling again – Side Bar”

  1. Stefano says:

    I remember as a child having a great disposition for ballet but my parents were prejudiced to men dancing ballet. Too bad either it is parents prejudice or bad shapes. Not all can be great dancers and those who might were never given the chance.

  2. That is unfortunate. But I hope you do support ballet in your own community.
    My best

  3. A student. says:

    As a student of dance, I have struggled my entire life with “size” issues. I am not, and never will be, 100 pounds. My body is simply not built that way. However, I do love to dance, be it ballet, modern, or with a hairbrush in my apartment; I love it. And I do not agree that not being physically fit is an insult to the art form. Why prevent someone from experiencing the beauty, exhilaration, and physicality of dance simply because of her size?

    I understand the aesthetic desire for a trim and terrific figure, and I also understand the necessity of being in shape in the professional circuit; but I truly admire dancers who do not fit the traditional body type. They have probably dealt with much criticism for their lacking physique, but have continued pursuit of the art form out of perseverance and passion. THAT is my definition of respect for the art form of dance.

  4. Ashley says:

    After reading this blog, I was slightly annoyed( lack of a better term). I read it again and let myself think about it and what made me annoyed with it. After clarifying in class what physically fit meant, it makes more sense. In the dance world, weight and body image is a HUGE problem. Dancers are always in a struggle to maintain a healthy body in a healthy way, which some people don’t do. I asked in class about what it meant to be physically fit because it is a term widely used in so many ways. There are many great dancers and athletes that don’t look physically fit, but are. I get concerned with the fact that dancers are constantly staring in a mirror and getting judged while also judging themselves. Between your leotard making your butt look big, your tights making your thighs look gigantic, and forget the mirrors that are never accurate, it’s not great for one’s self esteem. I think dance is an art form that shows the body, but there are great dancers out there that don’t have the most aesthetically pleasing bodies. “Larger” bodies can be beautiful too, especially if the person is confident. I was asked if my sports friend’s mass effected her ability to play and if their mass was lowered would they be better. I at first said yes, but after thinking about it, I wonder. That person’s mass helps them to be the player they are and has a ridiculous record. That person’s is also 100% more physically fit then me. If someone was to look at us though, they would disagree.
    Another problem I have with physically fit is in a partnering class. Girls are told that they need to be physically fit in a partnering class, which is true. A 300lb women wouldn’t fit well in that class, but where do you draw the line. I’ve seen girls get told to drop some weight who look exactly my size? Does that mean I have to lose a few before I go back? Partnering in my view has a lot to do with holding your weight and knowing where to put it. This is a hard topic because I understand that some people would be unable to lift, but sometimes I feel that the girl is told to lose weight, but a guy is never told to go to the gym and pick up a weight. At the Rock School, the guys were told to do 10 reps of 10 push ups and if they couldn’t do that hit the gym. I bet the boys in our partnering class couldn’t do that ( no offense boys), but then why is it I’ve heard numerous girls being told about their weight? I’ll hit the gym ad start eating healthy when I see my partner in the gym pressing some weights. In HS I was told it was my fault that my partner couldn’t do a shoulder sit when in reality my arm muscles were bigger then his? Please explain because I don’t get it.
    Dance is a rough career to put yourself in, but the concept of being physically fit and body image is even worse. Where does one draw the line of being physically fit and unhealthy to the point it’s scary. I fear sometimes that comments will put some people over the edge. For myself, it isn’t worth it because there are tons of companies out there that if one doesn’t like my body, there are others. If no one likes it, so be it and this isn’t what I should be doing. Dance will become more important than being healthy. I think that sometimes dancers forget that. I think they also forget where is the line between the two. Will we ever know? I don’t know.

  5. Stefano says:

    oh yes, I taught you Spanish in your time in Colombia, did u learn? anyhoot, that way I saw ballet for free.

  6. s says:

    I was very intrigued when I read Ashley’s response (which brought up very interesting points), so I wanted to write a quick response to that:
    Here’s my biggest question…why does being thin often times automatically make a girl UNhealthy?
    Now absolutely body image is always going to be a struggle-let’s face it, you’re staring in the mirror all day wearing practically nothing (especially tough when a girl is still physically maturing and in the ‘age of obesity’).
    To that I say plainly: get over it. Accept what you were given and do what you can to keep it in the best shape and improve it as best you can (ie: stretching, toning, etc.).
    Many girls who are in wonderful shape for a dancer can have even more issues with their bodies then those who are not. That struggle can be there for anyone in any kind of shape unless you accept and with a clear head assess and maintain/improve.
    There are many ways of healthily maintaining a thin body and yes it is work, but it is a choice. Granted it’s harder for some than others, and especially for girls/women, there are many different factors that come into play.

    It’s very easy to put up fists and say ‘it’s unfair and not right’ to a teacher, director, choreographer, or ballet in general when someone is not physically fit, but why is it unfair? Shouldn’t it be even more “unfair” to the director/choreographer, etc?
    [Being “300lbs” and proud is great, but not physically fit for a dancer. If this same girl was trying to model, wouldn’t she automatically be in the ‘plus size’ division?]
    So to tie this up, physically fit FOR A DANCER is in no way an unreal and unfair expectation (and shouldn’t be unclear). In reality, when a dancer is in shape, you feel better, dancing is easier, everything is more aesthetically pleasing and cleaner, it’s much less strain on the body (less chance of injury that you can control, more aerodynamic), and what you are able to physically do becomes much less limited, especially when it comes to partnering-so what’s the problem? Why is there so much controversy on this issue?

    PS: Though the comment about loosing weight when the boys hit the gym is fair, dancing/training is a personal endeavor. Boys are expected to get strength to partner, granted, but why would you let that be an excuse to keep you from progressing?

  7. Stefano says:

    It is a pretty chatty site this one. Under the cherry tree peace might be found. Enjoy the life of dance, it is a great way to entertain one. Too bad in Norway they see it as a thing to charge you an arm and a leg for performances that are not with world known dancers worth the price. There is internet! can we see some films of FLemming dancing his youth?

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