The Body of Ballet

It frightens me that I can walk into a competitive ballet studio, take a two-second glance at the aspiring young dancers in front of me and predict, with alarming accuracy, who will achieve their dreams and who will not. I may not know them or have seen them dance a single step, but their destiny is writ large in their DNA – in the length of their thighs, the shape of their feet and even the size of their breasts. It’s not right, but it is the reality.

Every year, thousands of would-be ballet dancers are turned away from elite schools around the globe simply because they have the ‘wrong’ body type. The ‘right’ ballet body type, on the other hand, is increasingly at odds with the average physique, where desired traits include high arches, a flexible torso, small head, small bust, slim hips, small ankles, long arms and legs. As a ballet student in my teens, I was always aware that anatomy was destiny, particularly for females. In fact, it was one of the reasons I quit studying ballet seriously at the age of fourteen. As a solid, round-faced young girl standing at 5 feet 2 inches, I knew I had little chance of making it beyond the bottom ranks of a ballet company, even assuming I made it past the entry requirements of a selective dance institution.

Margot Fonteyn wouldn’t meet today’s ‘standards.’ Her thighs are too big. Mikhail Baryshnikov may well not have had his legendary career had he stayed in the USSR, where he was considered too short. It’s enough to make you wonder, how many Baryshnikovs and Fonteyns are rejected by elite schools each year?

Now, I have been a part of the ballet world since I donned my first leotard at the age of six, but this practice of selecting individuals on the basis of specific physical traits for aesthetic reasons, whilst excluding numerous talented others, has always seemed inherently unethical to me. In an age in which discrimination based on age, gender or race is considered intolerable in most professions, why is this allowed to continue?

Let’s get one thing clear. All dancers who do make it in this unforgiving profession are completely deserving of their success. I am proud to know many dancers who are studying at, or have recently graduated from such prestigious institutions as the Australian Ballet School, all of whom are exceptionally talented, dedicated individuals. It must also be said that not all full-time vocational schools are equally strict about physical requirements. But the myth of the ‘ideal physique’ remains strong enough to disqualify many otherwise talented individuals from a ballet career, and compel others to maintain unnaturally low weights.

For every talented dancer I know who has ‘made it,’ I know scores more who graduated with honours, but could not find work after graduation because they were too short or too muscular or too tall. It is upsetting to see amazing dancers spend hours every day for years refining their technique, entering competitions, and in some cases forgoing an upper secondary education, only to fall at the last, arbitrary hurdle.

The counter-argument says that aesthetics can’t be ignored because ballet is a visual art form – fair enough. But why does that mean that everyone has to be uniformly thin and androgynous? Why can’t there be a greater range of fit, strong, healthy physiques represented on stage? You’d have to be pretty fit simply to dance a three-hour long production of Swan Lake, so I would think. Thinness, and willowy legs and arms do not have to be the defining characteristics of a great ballet dancer. If you don’t believe me, then just take a look at history.

Look up any picture of the great ballerinas of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and you will amazed at their comparatively stocky figures. Whilst directors are quick to cast the most fragile and delicate in the company as their Giselle in the ballet of the same name – as a young girl who dies and rises again as an ethereal nymph – they often forget that buxom ladies with rounded arms and strong legs and feet were the original stars of the role, ladies who captured the Romantic spirit by flirting with the dual image of the woman as a sexual creature and an elusive, fragile other. They forget that the role of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty too was created for a strong woman with resilient toes and a generous physique that hinted at Princess Aurora’s impending maturity. The current trend in ballet for long, thin bodies is a relatively recent development, encouraged by the personal tastes of influential choreographer George Balanchine, who wanted fast-moving, streamlined dancers to tackle his neo-classical works. The ‘Balanchine ideal’ was never meant to be extended to the entire ballet community.

I don’t go to the ballet to watch thoroughbred athletes perform feats of agility; I go because I want to see art. A thin physique does not, necessarily, a good artist make. Teachers and directors need to see dancers as more than just a sea of bodies from which they can pluck their ideal instrument.

To point the finger at the ballet community without considering audience expectations would be irresponsible. I have often asked myself if we as spectators fuel the problem. Are we so used to seeing unusually slender dancers moving in front of us that the sight of an average, healthy body seems distasteful? I believe the answer is yes and no.

A significant number of ballet-goers have at one time or another done a class, studied dance as a child, or are dancers themselves. If you have ever been to a ballet class as a young student, you’ll likely agree that it’s not hard to pick up the message that a good dancer is a thin dancer, and that bulky thighs or curvy hips or a well-endowed bosom are to be feared because they are ‘ungraceful.’ That some of these dance veterans might project their experiences onto the dancers they see at the ballet is only to be expected.

However, the majority of ballet’s audiences are casual viewers who may also be theatre and music lovers, or first-time goers. Most of these people only expect to see healthy dancers, and pay far less attention to matters of shape or technique versus physical form than the ballet world recognises. Let’s not forget that countless would-be spectators have likely been put off by ballet’s austere image and reputation for breeding eating disorders and damaged feet.

If I sound angry, it’s because I love ballet and I hate to see it’s potential as an art form hindered by such outdated and harmful practices. Ballet brings meaning and joy to the lives of many, including mine. But I cannot close my eyes to the fact that numerous people have had their lives damaged by the flawed reasoning that still exists in the ballet community. This reasoning affects not only professionals, but also former amateurs and students whose ideas of what a healthy body should look like have been seriously distorted, and who continue to struggle to maintain their self-esteem even in adulthood.

Even people who are well into their forties and beyond continue to link their worth and happiness to their dress size. They refuse to meet up with friends they haven’t seen in years because they are ashamed of how they now look, and thus feel inadequate compared to others they see as possessing the ‘ideal body.” To be told that you are unacceptable because of your physical appearance or that you need to ‘compensate’ for your physical shortcomings relative to others is devastating on so many levels and completely untrue – the words ‘talent’ or ‘potential’ are not synonymous with skinny or undeveloped, nor is the word ‘healthy’ synonymous with ‘fat.’

So where to go from here? An ethical conundrum presents itself whenever I tackle this question.

Physically-selective ballet schools exist because of demand from ballet companies, which want dancers that fit their aesthetic. If these schools were to widen their doors tomorrow, this would not change the fact that companies employ certain kinds of dancers over others. Given the educational, financial and emotional sacrifices that aspiring dancers have to endure, would it not be most humane to select dancers with the best chance of employment in the current market, even if that means only thin students make the cut, even if it perpetuates the very problem it attempts to solve?

Personally, I can’t accept this solution. It is the responsibility of directors and choreographers to safeguard both their discipline and the dancers who make their work possible. If this involves actively employing dancers against type, then so be it. Creating a more inclusive environment will not only save dreams, but also – dare I say – ballet itself. In the face of changing values, tastes and increased consumer choice, ballet needs to deal with its ‘stuffy’ image. Valuing artistic excellence and health over thinness and technical competence in performers will only bring more dynamic artists to the attention of the public, and create the kind of energy that is too often lacking on stage.

Ballet is art, and dance is life. Anything that contradicts these two tenets should have no place in the dance world. Let’s keep it healthy and fun, and accessible to everyone, regardless of their size and shape.

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23 thoughts on “The Body of Ballet

  1. Excellent article! While the arbitrary enforced body type that is required in modeling is often talked about, I think ballet often doesn’t receive the same critique, because people are wary of seeming to devalue dance as an art form and sport – which doesn’t have to be the case, as you’ve shown. You’ve written a really illuminating piece!

  2. Thanks Melissa!

    Yes, I have definitely noticed that people tend to shy away from this topic or play down its significance. But it’s hard to deny the impact that these strict ideals have on the young students upon which they are enforced.

    Few articles over the net deal with this issue in a sustained way, and it is either impossible to comment on those that do exist or a lengthy subscription process is involved, one which doesn’t allow you to comment until days later after you’ve been ‘approved.’
    Hopefully this article will help make the topic just a little bit more accessible!

  3. Good article. Nice to see someone really raising this issue rather than the usual sweeping it under the carpet or justifying it on the basis that it is “art” and if you question it you mustn’t understand it.

  4. I was a ballet dancer myself. I remember my not-so-thin body trying to glide through the studio in a leotard that was tight around my waist. No one stopped that dream of mine, at that age. And then certain circumstances made me move away from it and move on to hip-hop dancing. Somehow i felt more confident and more ME in that studio.
    I believe that the charm and sensitivity that ballet craves for – can only be quenched by a swan alike body type. It’s sad – but it is the truth.
    On the contrary – A ballet dancer’s attempt at belly dancing would be a shameful and hideous one. I would definitely not be a fan of that.

    The reason, why all “dancers” are not good and pro at every dance existing in the industry, is because all of them have different criterion and different demands.
    It’s a shame that something so beautiful as ballet calls for a stick figure. But again, maybe that’s the reason it’s so graceful.

    Beautifully written Grace. Love your work. x

  5. It is such a pity that so many dancers are completely rejected without any consideration of their skill and artistry and there can be no doubt that this lowers the standard of ballet we see today. I’m so glad that someone has written an article about this, I’d rather see an exceptionally talented company with dancers with some variation of form to one that is merely competetent with identical, superthin dancers any day!

  6. To Belle – I’m glad that you were happy to see this article written. In one sense, I have been wanting to write this article for years and yet at the same time, the idea of writing it terrified me!

    It’s not like this issue hasn’t been talked about before. In fact I feel that it is very much a part of every aspiring dancer’s reality. I don’t think many people are willing to criticise, so explicitly, the status quo though because it’s seen as potentially damaging the art form’s reputation. However, I felt I owed it to everyone to be as honest about my experiences and thoughts as possible and I hope that this shows in my article :-)

  7. Yes I agree. We have a family member who is one of the ones who is extremely talented and extremely thin. Emaciated looking. She eats when we see her that is. There is another issue that comes into play however, its the numer of hours a day they work their bodies. usually 8 to 10 with only small breaks. They burn off what ever they do put in and then some. The health risks we have had a worry for but happily were not the case, was osteoperosis, at 17?? Weak and brittle bones.

    There is an element to ballet that people like myself, who are not professional dancers, or have ny rel study in the arts. We think of the women of ballet, as the ultimate beautiful Prima Ballerina.

    Not a dark under eye circled, tired, boney tiny body more like a adolescent boy than a young woman. Most dancers are beautiful in thier art, yes I get this. But what I mean is in the leading roles where there is a leading man, I for one would like to see a bare shouldered costume with a beautiful back and neck area which looks soft like a woman,and with skin that is not just draped over boney unfeminine shoulder blades, and breasts would also be a plus. The idea “woman” not girl.

    I have had to keep quiet for years since I am just a girl friend and not actually a parent. But I still worry. I remember at 9 some local sort of big shot, once told the girls mother that if she did not have her “ears cropped” she would never make it as a Ballet Star.. within 3 weeks that child was in minor surgery and that issue was solved. I wanted to crop something off that idiot. Seriously 9 year old??? The problem was not the parents being torturous, the [roblem was the idiot said it in front of the girl. Now she would either be self conscious and feel ugly or they got it done, it isnt uncommon to some extent, but I think you get my point and frustration, it simply is an opinion, and I have seen many elf like ears over the years. She is beautiful, and always has been. The primary instructor who now loves the attention she gets off of this young womans fame, also taugh her girls to never gain more than 2 pounds at a time.

    Now that is just stupid.I think a body should be what ever evolves into when kept healthy. There is a science about fueling an athlete like a foot ball player or boxer. This is not taken lightly. The same should be done for a Professional Dancer, their bodies should be finely tuned instrument. Not a starved and under developed weakend small size. The natural beauty of the art and the talent would never suffer from healthy glow.

    We allow the rules to be forced into directions by people who choreograph and teach and judge competitions, and I think there could be such a better effort in learning and perfecting the science of nutrition and how to perfect eating as a tool or fuel for their finely tuned talent and technique.

    Science can allow a personal pinpointed programs based upon individual metabolism. This could be part of that world, just like many of the professional athletes do. Believe me there is so many ways this could be part of that prestigious and elite world, as opposed to a dirty little secret people are not too quick to want to discuss.

  8. It is very sad… As a teen ballet dancer/student I see most of the girls in my level thin and I have gotten quite thin too, I personally get really anxious about my legs because I’m afraid they’ll get too muscular. In my public school im considered really really skinny. I got blessed with high arched feet and slightly hyper-extended knees. But I always have to watch what I eat because of the fear of gaining too much weight in puberty. I’ve read about russian teen ballet dancers having to fight the natural way of puberty to try not get thick thighs, a tummy and breasts. I just wish it wasn’t that way.. But for now I guess I just have to work with it.

  9. I like your article and I agree with a lot of what you say, but my personal opinion is that a dancer should look like a dancer. That doesn’t always mean you have to be thin, but i do believe you should be lean and strong. I feel that it is unpleasant to watch over weight dancers on stage because most of the time they do not have the agility and grace to put on a good performance. I also do feel that you are mostly advocating for women with curvier bodies, such as women with hips and breasts. And you also state that “flirting with the dual image of the woman as a sexual creature”, which is pull from this as you saying that the woman must be curvy to have sex appeal and or show maturity which is highly offensive to women whom do not possess this body type. You can easily show sexuality and maturity if you don’t have a “buxom” bosom or curvy hips.

  10. Hi Skei,

    Wow, it is great to see that this article is still pulling in comments! Thanks.

    However…I was definitely not implying that a woman has to be curvy to have sex appeal! My remark, “flirting with the dual image of the woman as a sexual creature”, was meant to highlight the fact that in earlier decades, the roles mentioned were often given to promising dancers with fuller figures because, physically, they projected the Romantic (19th Century) image of sexual maturity. So there was a different (if equally arbitrary) criteria for what a dancer “should look like.”

    When the thinner ideal came in, these earlier dancers, who did not simply become incompetent overnight, were suddenly considered ‘overweight’ in ballet terms. Thus I argue that these days, fashion for a very thin body type often overrides skill in current acts of discrimination against fuller-figured ballet dancers.

    I am certainly not saying thin dancers should be replaced or that they are less worthy; what I am saying is that the acceptable range of physiques in ballet should at least be wide enough to encompass all fit and strong dancers of talent.

    Cheers,
    Grace

  11. I absolutely love this article. It speaks to the multitudes of audience members such as myself who favour artistry and passion over technical prowess. My favourite female ballet dancers are from a bygone era: Alla Sizova, Fonteyn, and Yelena Yevteyeva. The Prima Ballerinas of today don’t capture my heart or imagination despite their more streamlined aesthetics.

    For dancers and audience members alike, I share the wish that ballet become more accessible to dancers of a wider range of body types, provided those dancers can tell a story with conviction through dance.

  12. I’ve danced my whole life, getting serious at around 13. I quit for good at 16 after I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I’m 18 now and healthy, but I’ll never forget what ballet did to my mind and body.

  13. Sorry, but I just have to comment on this article.

    When I was a very little girl (I guess about the appropriate age to start ballet classes), I began to dance.
    I think I did ballet for a year or two before I had to quit. I moved onto different types such as tap, jazz, and then gymnastics, eventually settling into hip-hop once my “adult” body grew in.

    But I’ve always wanted to be a ballerina.

    The harsh reality of it is that I just do not have that figure. My legs are short and bow-legged. I also have that very curvacious figure that hip-hop treasures but ballet disdains.

    But I have recently decided to get back into ballet. I don’t care that I’m older now or have the totally wrong body for it. Seeing anything beautiful seriously brings tears to my eyes, and as I also do acting and fencing I think that it will help me improve in all areas.

    But I don’t plan to enter an academy or pursue it as anything more than a very intensive hobby.

    My cousin, on the other hand, has been doing ballet since she was very young. She has dance classes every day and has been in multiple performances. Very recently she was accepted into an extensive summer dance program with an elite school.

    But her problem is her height, which is unatrually tall for ballet dancer.

    I’m really rooting for her and her dreams to become a prima ballerina despite her size. She really is a great dancer! And she should have the chances that her hard work allows her to deserve.

  14. I have to say that while I can empathise with your sentiment, I disagree with your arguments.
    First, discrimination. You ask, “in an age in which discrimination based on age, gender or race is considered intolerable in most professions, why is this allowed to continue?” Well the problem is that ballet is one of those professions in which this kind of discrimination might be considered perfectly acceptable. Age, gender and race discrimination is not considered intolerable in those professions in which it is considered unreasonable to stop people from hiring someone based on such traits (at an extreme end, it is perfectly reasonable to discriminate against women if looking for sperm donors). Ballet is allowed to discriminate against people with the ‘wrong’ body because, yes, it is a visual art form. While the standards of modern ballet companies might be too narrow in terms of weight etc, it seems perfectly acceptable to have some form of physical standard for ballet dancers because a corps of dancers with wildly different physiques is not as visually pleasing as one where the dancers look roughly the same. (This is clearly the view of the ballet establishment but in my experience is generally shared by casual ballet-goers, even if they do disapprove of the harsh body standards of ballet.)
    This brings up your idea that casual ballet goers don’t care about physique, but only about art. In my experience, many casual ballet goers do care about physique, and some are even attracted to ballet because of the skinniness or long legs etc of ballet dancers. And if we consider the fact that most women buy fashion magazines and admire supermodels despite the fact that modelling is known to trigger anorexia, the number of would-be spectators put off by the skinniness of ballet dancers may well not be that large. And ANY body standard will not get rid of ballet’s reputation for destroying feet – this will happen as long as we have point dancing, and may well be less severe if dancers are thinner because there is less weight on the toes.
    You are obviously angry about the fact that lots of talented ballet dancers are unable to find work (or a place at ballet school) because of their physiques. Yes, of course the body standards of modern ballet prevent the success of some talented dancers, but to be fair it is very unlikely that ballet schools are turning away Fonteyns and Baryshnikovs every year, because a) if a dancer is really really talented, they may well be let into ballet school/company even if they look slightly ‘wrong’ (e.g. Svetlana Zakharova is in the Bolshoi despite her breast size) and b) because Fonteyns and Baryishnikkovs are so rare to begin with. And let us not forget that even if Fonteyn would not be allowed to dance today because she is too big, there was still a standard ballet body in her time (which was curvier) that probably prevented the assent of talented dancers. In other words, even if there are reasons why today’s very skinny standard is particularly bad (encourages anorexia etc), the fact that it prevents talented dancers from ascending cannot be one of them; this has always happened and will always happen with any standard.
    I guess if it is reasonable to have a standard ballet body, the issue is if it is reasonable to have a skinny standard as opposed to any other standard. Let’s be clear: any standard will prevent some talented dancers from making it, so this cannot be an argument against a skinny standard. I guess reasons for a skinny standard might be related to the fact that skinniness is generally seen as beautiful in our society so if ballet is about beauty this might be a good body standard to have, that skinny dancers have a more beautiful line, look more ethereal etc.
    Reasons against are to do with promoting anorexia or not wanting female dancers to look androgynous.

  15. I found this article very intriguing. I even managed to read it the whole way through. Also, I very much agree with your points here. As a young girl, I was the dancing sort, but I was never given solos or any part beyond the second back row – and this is not because I wasn’t good enough or talented enough, it was simply because the other girls had the better bodies. And still do. I’ve moved on to ice skating, where a broader age range in accepted and a more diverse, and possible body type is okay. The girls who got all the glory those year back are now touring the world, landing placements with ballet companies everywhere. It’s a shame I was never allowed, I really wanted to do that. But what happens in the ballet world, we must get over, it is not likely to change over night.

  16. I completely agree with this article. I used to really want to become a ballerina, but I quit when I realized that my body would not be accepted and my hard work wouldn’t be worth it. It was all I wanted to do.

  17. thank you so much for this wonderful article. I am pretty busty, really curvy, and have fat thighs. I’m also 13. Last night I cried myself to sleep because of realizing that I could never, no matter how well I danced or how hard I worked, make it big in ballet. All because of the way I was born. Millions of girls have no chance at ballet from the moment of birth. This is not right. Thank you again for this article.

  18. Thanks for this article. At 26, I’ve finally decided to get back to ballet after almost a decade long hiatus. My parents always tried to dissuade me from doing ballet because i don’t have the Balanchine body that everyone says is the best even though I was put into advanced ballet with adults and teens when I was but 8 years old and was a competitive gymnast. Even this late in my career, I’m still going to dance no matter what people say about my body (classic hourglass which my friends love but I hate for this very reason!) because I love it. Also, some more nontraditional/contemporary companies are always looking for amazing dancers even if they don’t have the perfect body. It’s a sad fact but I understand why they are doing it.

  19. Well, ballet is an art form, and we should appreciate the beauty of it, which includes the body aspect of it. While I appreciate that in the past the criteria of a perfect ballet body was different than now, wasn’t there still a criteria for the body shape? This criteria is not only in ballet. It is also in sports including basketball, soccer, gymnastics and more. As well as ice skating. In fact probably in all sports, aesthetic arts and more. You don’t see short or higher weight models. You don’t see overweight gymnasts or gymnasts with very long legs. And in ballet, you don’t see dancers with short legs or long torsos. So if we don’t want success in some things to be based largely on our body type, we have to change things not only in ballet. And dancers are not judges only on their body – that is half of it, yes, but only half. If by sixteen a student not largely fulfilled your potential, I doubt any school or company is going to take that dancer. Not only does there need to be flawless technique, there also needs to be a passion, because without passion you can’t truly improve. I am sure companies look for passion in the dancing. So body is very important but so are other things because if at 18 you haven’t largely fulfilled your potential or have largely fulfilled your potential except for the passion part, it is time to audition for companies and try to get a contract, but if the audience won’t see flawless technique or the magic of the story what is the point of a company hiring you? Even the back row of corps de ballet needs to bring life into a performance!

  20. Yes, body type is mostly based on Genetics, which cannot be altered unless with surgery- sadly. :(
    While most people may think it is unfair for the ‘fortunate’ few blessed with this body type, I would like to consider taking into account insecurities even this group of female dancers may feel.
    First off, I am not a ballet dancer, though I do appreciate the beauty and grace of ballet. I’m more of a hip hop person when dancing. I have a small fame, a slim neck,small bust, tiny waist and slightly bigger hips and butt with visually long arms and legs (with thighs – I am not emaciated.) Due to my small frame, my collar bones show slightly, even when I was chubby in highschool. Always had a small waist, small wrist and ankles and when I put on weight I goes into my thighs and butt- like my mom when she was my age. I do use some ballet stretches in my exercise routine, for toning purposes and they work great.
    I feel graceful and beautiful in any dress, but also have my insecurities. I am pretty sure female ballet dancers can relate to these ‘body-based-insecurities’ as well.

    1- Small bust (not flat, it’s there but it’s small): I may look good in tight fitted clothes, but do I feel sexy? A little, but mostly no. I can wear plunging necklines and still manage to look elegant and classy – yes a happy thought, but what I am trying to say is it’s always there in my head. “Does my partner find me sexy- even with the lack of ‘you-know-what’?” Oh, I’m sure my backside compensates somewhat, but still- it haunts me.

    2- Being called ‘skinny’ and ‘annorexic’- being stereotyped: People assume you diet the hell outta yourself to be thin- and they do not believe you when you say it is genetic. If you are a slim person who exercises regularly- your ‘friends’ may even discourage it. If you eat healthy, it does not matter how many helpings you have, your “friends” say that you are not eating enough. I get this so much that I practically wear loose, frumpy clothing almost all the time (except on special occasions), specially If I am going out with my girl buddies.

    3- Loss of Friends: It may be hard to keep friends, because friends may have a hard time trying to ‘fit-in’ with you. I know this for a fact, because you tend to make your friends more aware of their insecurities (image wise). It does not matter how helpful you are or how supportive. It is always easier to be close friends with people who are similar to you- thought and body wise. I have a high level discipline, am engaged and do not flirt around with men so flirting is cannot be the reason. On special occasions, when I wear a good tailored gown, I get looks and mumbles of unhappy ‘you look great’s- from my girl buddies. It kind of hurts deep down that the people whom you consider as close friends cannot be happy for you.

    I know, long comment. So i’d summarise. There are two sides to every coin. Pro’s and con’s. We all are not made the same. So we must make most of what we got, with pride and learn to be happy with what we have been blessed with. And do not let the haters get to you, or stop you from making your dreams come true. :)

  21. My daughter just concluded the second phase of one of Canada’s elite schools audition program. She is really good but she was not invited to the professional program. She is the shortest among the auditioning class incoming grade 8. Two of her acquaintances who attended at this school left because they were told they were too tall or have small feet. Sad thing is that schools will fill the class with students who they know were not qualified based on physical features in the first place and later on tell them to go because another set of auditioning students the following year or so are more qualified.

  22. It’s a well-known fact that ballet is a physically elitist world. It is up to the individual in question to honestly appraise their physical appearance and work out their limitations based on what they have.

    If you’re not the right body type for ballet then you have two choices: a) find another area of dance that excites you, or, b) work harder and smarter than anyone else to make sure you can’t be looked over.

    People who shouldn’t have been ballet dancers based on their physical traits have risen to the top for years, because they fought tooth and nail to get there.

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