When pursuing any sport, the perfect body is critical before an athlete’s abilities are taken into account. Similarly, for professional ballerina’s, the pressure that body image holds over her career is detrimental. Being thin, having lean muscles, arched feet, hyperextended legs, a long neck, and being short is advantageous, if not essential. While ballet is not considered a sport, like any sport, it requires an ideal body. And not just any body, but one that has been sculpted through hours of training and proper nutrition. So why is it that elegance and a tutu automatically categorizes ballet (and dance for that matter) as simply an art form?
In this blog, you will be introduced to the unseen world of dance (specifically ballet) through the lens of a former ballerina. For those who do not dance, it is difficult to understand why many dancers feel so strongly about being considered artistic athletes rather than just artists. While there is nothing wrong with being an artist, for dancers the investment both physically and emotionally is far too great for it to simply be considered an art form because at the end of the day a ballerina has to be artistic AND physically adequate to get a job. Throughout my posts, I will address several key indicators that link ballet to sports: body image, training, mentality, getting a job and winning the game.
To begin, it is true that ballerinas are very thin, but that is not to say they are not strong. While ballerina’s center their lives around eating nutritiously to maintain their lean bodies, so do football players in order to maintain their body weight and build. When it comes to sports, exercising is simply not enough to attain the adequate body; as a result, proper nutrition comes into play. While many ballerinas will justify their skinniness as the result of “a lot of dancing”, this is a lie. Similar to football players, the facts hold true to dancers as well: exercise will only get you so far if you do not nourish yourself properly. For ballerinas, however, proper nutrition means eating small portions of food (1200-1500 calorie diet) that are low in fat and carbs and high in protein and iron. Wheather ballerinas are under eat and football players respectively “overeat” the goal of attaining a perfect body is the same.
Body image is a factor accredited to athletes, not artists; however, for dancers, having the perfect body is 60% (if not more) of the game. As an artist, artistic talent is crucial to gaining attention and success (body image does not matter). As an athlete, athleticism and the perfect body is crucial to gaining attention and success. For ballerinas, artistic talent and coordination, as well as the perfect body, is the recipe to gaining attention and success. To conclude, while there are many reasons why dance should be considered a sport, dance is still not considered a sport; however, the athletic demand is the same, if not more than that of athletes. In the images below, you will see Lebron James, the athlete, and Misty Copeland, the artist. Their body build may not look the same; however, they both had to go through rigorous training and specific diets in order to achieve their toned bodies.