The Shame Of Imperfection
I wrote the following referenced article many years ago. Doomed with one’s body type applies to gymnasts and models. And, is anyone excluded?
Many of us are, of course. Yet, even while shopping I’ve noticed that some tasty designs in blouses, tunics, and pants, transform into square blocks above a certain size. In the mid-price ranges, anyway. So, doomed…
As I write today I’m running videos of ballet auditions on the Tube. One ballet master makes extremely sarcastic and body shaming comments disguised as corrections throughout the class, mostly aimed at the girls.
Doesn’t that make him so special! 👿 I know, that was bad.
I had teachers like that and the whole class suffered this abuse every day. The diseased attitude even transferred to some of the academic teachers in the school. As a child, I didn’t get it. I thought teachers were there to help me.
Any artist knows that criticism isn’t always going to be constructive.
Having the perfect body for ballet is a chance of birth.
Sedona, gifted for dance in some ways, doesn’t know why her teacher Ms. P., doles out nastiness to her in ballet class, far above the every day sarcasm the other students receive.
I trained with some very gifted students who -omg! – grew breasts! BAM. Those careers were over.
A decade and a half later, I directed young dancers who had small bosoms with scars beneath them. Health insurance could be lobbied to cover a reduction if it was professionally related.
Likewise, students who gained weight in their teens were simply written off by their teachers. No hormone testing, no diet or nutrition advice was forthcoming. Only shaming.
Oh cruel world! 😀
I am surprised to see those attitudes now, in the 21st Century.
Rejection Is A Thing For Writers
And we get that, right? It’s a challenge, a numbers game.
We keep writing, keep editing, keep taking workshops to improve.
Luckily our joint shapes and leg lengths don’t determine our potential for publication!
What helps is community, beta readers, critique groups, connections and family support.
“Now we get to the part of class I truly love – the grand allegro – the flying leaps where I can soar as high as the boys. I don’t know why, but it’s the one thing I can do that money can’t buy and technique can’t improve. But then there is still this awful embarrassment I have to try and hide even though I’m only a 32B.
That’s huge for ballet by the way. It can really hurt – despite my carefully practiced landing technique and the expensive sprung floors. I’m too developed to wear a sports bra or just to go without like most girls in class. But I’m thinking that the five pounds I just lost for the show is making things feel a little better.
Ms. Pavlechenka catches my eye as we’re all leaning over the barres, gasping for breath after a long combination. There is no way she can find fault with my jumps but I can see a toad or some other slimy thing rippling waves just beneath the surface of her oh so benign gaze. And every other eye in the room is on me waiting for the alien baby to erupt from her chest and go for my throat.
“You know Sedona, some things can be changed. Insurance will pay for a reduction if it involves a professional liability.”
I’m hoping for a 9.2 quake or worse, right now, this second, as it registers that she really laid that out in front of the whole class! At the same instant I notice Nadya stiffen, her eyes deer in headlights. And suddenly I get it. I met her mother and sisters at the last show. They are all, uh, bountifully endowed. And yet Nadya is almost flat. Gag.
Lawrence is giving me his BS alert “Don’t buy it!” look. Ms. Pavlechenka seems very pleased over her snarky hit-and-run strike. Get me out of this no-fly zone. ”
Doomed With My Body Type in the Dance World by Dianne M. Buxton
Anyone who has seen a few classical ballets, or modern ballets with dancers in white spandex unitards, has figured out what the favored ballet body type is:
*Small head***long neck***shortened torso***long, thin, lean (but slightly muscular)legs
*Turnout of the leg from the hip joint. This would depend whether the natural angle of the thigh bone in the hip is angled outward or inward. Also, increasing the flexibility of the surrounding soft tissues must begin before the age of seven to significantly enhance the degree of turnout.
*Slight knee hyper-extension has become a pleasing line in ballet. The slight backward curve of the leg enhances the look of the arch curve outward (yet undermines the function of balance).
*Bowleggedness is favored for the ballet dancer for both practical and visual reasons. External tibial torsion (outward rotation of the lower leg) is favorable in that it can increase turnout look of the feet.
* Adequate mobility of the ankle and foot so that the body can be stacked up from a demi pointe or full pointe position. A less flexible ankle especially would have the dancer’s weight slightly back.
Some talented dancers with lesser-favored proportions and muscle shapes rise in the ranks to become soloists and character performers in classical dance companies. Hard work, a winning personality and acting ability all help contribute to the success of a dancer like this.
Yet body type has nothing to do with the love of dance or performing talent. If a dance student realizes that she/he is struggling to accommodate ballet positions, let them keep struggling. And also investigate other styles of dance where success is more likely. Also look into whether or not fulfillment may be gained better acting.
Hitting the ballet body barrier never has to be a negative. It may propel a young person toward a different area of performing. And this person will have gained dance technique, discipline, ability to work hard, and they no longer will be doomed with their body type in the dance world.
If you’re a writer you may also be a teacher, coach or editor. Can you imagine talking to your students or clients in those caustic tones?
I can’t imagine them putting up with it!