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  1. #1
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    NY Times Dance Critic: Nutcracker Dancers Hefty?

    "Hefty," my word.

    Alastair Macaulay's review of this year's Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet:

    Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many; and Jared Angle, as the Cavalier, seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm. They’re among the few City Ballet principals who dance like adults, but without adult depth or complexity. Ashley Bouder (Dewdrop) has the brilliance they lack, but also a greater and more tough-grained hardness.
    I suppose many of us would like to look this way....in our dreams (note he says the dancer he deems "brilliant" has a "tough-grained hardness":

    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/20...04/BALLET.html

    Full review:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/ar...cracker&st=cse

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    GMAFB. It's hard to see most of her body in that picture, but I'm sure she's fine. I'd prefer to watch ballerinas that look like they keep solid food down instead of dancing skeletons.

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    Most of us are not principal dancers in major ballet companies, eys? You cannot apply street standards to top ballet dancers. Although it's hard to judge from these pictures whether the assessment of "hefty" is accurate. But if a dancer is heavy for ballet standards (extreme case, think Rachael Flatt's physique), it's impossible to create the lean, long look expected in classical ballet.

    Given all that, I do think that one of my favorite ballet dancers ever, Diana Vishneva was too thin in Don Quixote but the dancing is still superb.

    Here in Sleeping Beauty she looks healthier and dances just beautifully. I am such a Vishneva uber.
    Last edited by IceAlisa; 12-10-2010 at 09:30 PM.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

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    I'm thinking it sounds more like 'heavy on one's feet' than a body measurement - laborious instead of light of toe? Like how one feels and moves after a big meal?

    Must say though - some of the dancers in the blue/white snow photo looked a bit 'hefty' for ballet dancers, but that could just be the costumes, the sizing of the photo, or the body positions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
    I'm thinking it sounds more like 'heavy on one's feet' than a body measurement - laborious instead of light of toe? Like how one feels and moves after a big meal?
    No, as a ballet follower, I'm pretty sure it meant body measurements.

    Jennifer Ringer's problem isn't fat, it's her proportions. People with long limbs can put on extra weight without affecting their line. People with shorter limbs, like Ringer, look dumpy with just the slightest bit of extra weight. In fact, even the slightest bit of extra muscle will destroy their line. Ringer, like almost all ballerinas, has heard endless comments about her weight, but usually behind closed doors, so the critic wasn't saying anything new.

    However, to phrase it that way so publicly is insensitive because anyone who follows ballet knows that Ringer has previously battled an eating disorder. He could have gotten the point across by saying she looked a bit out of shape, but that would probably improve as the season goes on--a true statement because the added practice and performance makes dancers thinner by the end of the season.

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    Gazpacho, et al, any comment on the man? I've heard these criticisms of ballerinas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soxxy View Post
    Gazpacho, et al, any comment on the man? I've heard these criticisms of ballerinas.
    It's hard to judge from that picture. Possibly a little soft around the waist, or is it the costume? I can't really tell.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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    Also, the Sugar Plum Fairy is not a waif character like Giselle or Manon. A waifish Sugar Plum Fairy would be as out of character as a plump and robust Giselle. So weight is a legitimate issue for critique, but I believe it should be done sensitively and spoken of in terms of the dancer's ability to execute the steps and embody the character.

    Quote Originally Posted by soxxy View Post
    Gazpacho, et al, any comment on the man? I've heard these criticisms of ballerinas.
    I'm not that familiar with Jared Angle and haven't seen him dance and thus can't comment on his body line and proportions. But in general, men don't get nearly the number of weight comments as females do, both in and outside the ballet world. That's not to say there aren't men with body image disorders, but that in general, female ballerinas get mean nasty weight comments far more than men and are more likely to be affected by them since the competition among female dancers is so much stronger. In addition, long lean lines aren't as emphasized for male ballet dancers.
    Last edited by Gazpacho; 12-10-2010 at 09:56 PM.

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    Although I think it was unnecessary to comment at all, the way he did it was really out of line. It was completely an after thought put at the end of the review. There was no point to the comment except to get a jab in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
    I'm thinking it sounds more like 'heavy on one's feet' than a body measurement - laborious instead of light of toe? Like how one feels and moves after a big meal?
    He was definitely talking about her eating habits: "Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many."

    I would think a writer of sufficient caliber to be published in the NYT could think of a better way to say heavy on her feet than that.

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    Yes, I think snarking like that here on FSU is one thing but putting in print in NYT is another.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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    There has been backlash -- here is the critic's response. Some of the backlash articles are linked below. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/1..._n_792503.html
    I think I will have a snack and take a nap before I eat and go to sleep.

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    OK, I stand corrected - the guy is an ass. Why does ballet have to be about body shape? Because we say it has to? Because it's traditional? Well, there are quite a few traditions that we as human beings have decided are arcane and unneccessary. I'd like to see the brittle ballerina tradition tossed out the window too!

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    Not surprising for Alistair. He can be brutal.
    In my opinion he's just being self-indulgent by making this crack. It's totally unnecessary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmeck View Post
    OK, I stand corrected - the guy is an ass. Why does ballet have to be about body shape?
    What should ballet be about if not about lines and shapes and grace and precision? Not svelte enough for ballet? There are other dance traditions. A ballerina should not look brittle, she should be long, lean and strong.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    It's hard to judge from that picture. Possibly a little soft around the waist, or is it the costume? I can't really tell.
    It's not the costume. He probably has 6 pack abs but he is not nearly as lean as some would expect from a male ballet dancer. His waist would come in more. I bet he is between 15-20% body fat rather than 10-15%.

    However, I do not believe that would effect his ability to perform, in terms of athletic ability, as much as it influences his lines aesthetically.

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    While I believe that maintaining a certain weight and look is important in ballet, horrible things as a result of eating disorder can happen.

    This is the story of Heidi Guenther, a ballet dancer from California who died suddenly at the age of 22. I think her death was a result of a combination of a genetic heart condition aggravated by an electrolyte imbalance caused by the abuse of laxatives. But that's just my opinion. OK, that's also the coroner's opinion in so many words.

    I knew Heidi a little and have seen her dance--she was a lovely dancer.

    Here's the story: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...E2036.dtl&ao=3
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    What should ballet be about if not about lines and shapes and grace and precision? Not svelte enough for ballet? There are other dance traditions. A ballerina should not look brittle, she should be long, lean and strong.
    Exactly. Ballet is all about lines, every movement is about creating a line. There's a reason why some children don't even get accepted to ballet schools because they don't have the right body types.
    I don't think this dancer looks particularly overweight, however, overweight dancers do bother me.
    Bardtoob mentioned the right word: aesthetic. That's what's it about and being overweight and aesthetic doesn't go together in my opinion.

    One of the girls I train with was sent home before the audition even started not too long ago because of her weight. She's trained and she doesn't look "fat" but she's overweight and the choreographer couldn't be bothered with her.

    Of course, eating disorders are the other side of the story; I think dancing as a professional is very hard on the mind and body and it's a very thin line between eating healthy and maintaining your weight and lines. There's a lot of pressure on the girls especially and it already starts in the schools, so I guess, something should be done about it there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    What should ballet be about if not about lines and shapes and grace and precision? Not svelte enough for ballet? There are other dance traditions. A ballerina should not look brittle, she should be long, lean and strong.
    I would say this is an example of "long, lean and strong," but I just can't even imagine the work and self discipline it must take to maintain that kind of shape - especially after having two kids!

    http://www.ballet.ca/thecompany/prin..._rodriguez.php

    If you are not born with the right body type, being a ballerina would be brutal.
    A good rant is cathartic. Ranting is what keeps me sane. They always come from a different place. Take the prime minister, for example. Sometimes when I rant about him, I am angry; other times, I am just severely annoyed - it's an important distinction. - Rick Mercer

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    What should ballet be about if not about lines and shapes and grace and precision? Not svelte enough for ballet? There are other dance traditions. A ballerina should not look brittle, she should be long, lean and strong.
    I do agree that if ballet is to remain as physically stringent as it is (I have a BMI of 17 and I would still be too fat for ballet, judging by pics of these dancers ), steering the dancer towards other disciplines is certainly healthier than pressuring them to lose weight at any cost.

    The Balanchine ideal just looks unhealthy to me, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by mag View Post
    I would say this is an example of "long, lean and strong," but I just can't even imagine the work and self discipline it must take to maintain that kind of shape - especially after having two kids!

    http://www.ballet.ca/thecompany/prin..._rodriguez.php

    If you are not born with the right body type, being a ballerina would be brutal.
    Some people are naturally very lean and slim, but it looks like a lot of work on Sonia. She's looking rather skeletal.

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