During the Nutcracker, you watch as the Sugar Plum Fairy seemingly floats across the stage, does 32 fouettes on pointe and still makes it all look effortless. Little do you know how physically straining it is on her body and then you take into account her eating disorder. She constantly purges just so she can fit into the corset costume that the Sugar Plum Fairy before her fit into. Why might so many ballerinas think this is okay? I’m going to explore a few reasons why I believe ballerinas think this way. Some teaching strategies of ballet have negative effects on dancers. With the teaching methods of some teachers, the skin tight leotards and tights, and long periods of examining and staring at their self and their company members, all dressed the same, in the mirrors placed in front of them.
Why is wearing tight clothing so destructive to a dancer’s self-image? Dancers’ training relies on teachers being able to see the body of the individual and evaluate how it is performing. Dance attire, usually a black leotard and pink tights, is very revealing. For young dancers who are starting to mature and their body is changing, wearing such tight clothing causes them to feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. The uniformity of their attire also causes dancers (mostly female dancers) to compare their body to the others on their company. Thoughts start to form such as “Does my stomach look that fat too? She has a hunched spine, I hope mine doesn’t look like that. Wow she is really skinny and beautiful, why can’t I look like that” and other such ideas. This idea was experimented upon by Fredrickson, Roberts, Noll, Quinn and Twenge (1998.) They had a group of women, they either had to wear a swimsuit or a sweater then complete a math test. The women who wore the swimming suit did worse on the test than did the ones wearing the sweater (Price, 2006, 992.) The results from this may show that wearing form fitting attire can cause women to feel self-conscious and the tasks they may be asked to perform may not be the best quality, their self-consciousness affects their performance skills. A quote by a young teenager in the four year longitudinal study by Angela Pickard states:
“I’m really struggling at the moment because I’ve had a bizarre growth spurt and I’m completely off balance. I hate that I can’t control my body at the moment. It’s embarrassing. I keep looking at myself in the mirror in my leotard. I’m trying everything to get it all back but I feel so clumsy.” (Tracey)
The presence of mirrors in a dance room can be just as destructive, if not more destructive than dance attire. The reason there are mirrors in a dance room is so that the dancers can see their self and self-correct any mistakes they might be making and catch. The mirror is supposed to act as a helping device and to make training easier and help weed out any corrections that the dancer can see so that the teacher is correcting less. A study done by Radell, Adame and Cole (2003) took...