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The darkness of dance Ballet can be like an abusive lover

A salve. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty

A salve. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty


April 4, 2023   6 mins

I was a quiet, nervous little girl who didn’t much like the chaos of life. I could escape that, though, in the safety and discipline of the dance studio. With hair scraped back and uniform strict, the daily repetitions of mastering movement were profoundly reassuring. And my dreams were of a life of dance.

A ballet career, however, is a gruelling one, and all dancers, particularly female ones, face the constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream. From a very young age and at each step along the way, we are picked out or cast aside; we are encouraged or not; given attention or ignored; we land our perfect role or our names are left off the cast lists. We must sacrifice everything for dance.

The constant sense of competition, the impossible physical standards and punishing hours can be a source of anxiety and distress. But here is the inherent contradiction: it is the dance — the movement, the music, the choreography — which is also a salve for these emotions.

Dance was the love of Alice Robb’s life, but then it abandoned her. In her new book, Don’t think dear: On loving and leaving ballet, she brings that sense of competition to life. She describes dance as though it were an abusive lover: one that consumed her every waking moment, her body, mind and soul, only to walk out on her. And she never quite recovered. Sadly, her focus in the book is on the leaving, not the staying.

Her choice of title rather gives the game away. It refers to the “genius of ballet” George Balanchine, who ruled the aesthetic of the US style of ballet for a long period and is still worshipped today. Balanchine created and adored the svelte, skinny lines of the modern ballerina. “In my ballets, women are first,” he would say. And he created astonishing roles for his chosen few. The irony was that he did this by exerting overwhelming control over women, always patronisingly commanding: “Don’t think dear!” In other words: do as you are told. Don’t question, don’t ask, don’t you dare to think.

There are distinct parallels, which Robb sketches out, between Balanchine’s behaviour and the abuses of the modern ballet masters during our #MeToo era. Balanchine’s muse Carol Sumner jokes how Mr B “was very grabby” and would “be arrested today”, yet insists she is “on Mr B’s side”. Her joking hides the brutal aesthetic Balanchine brought in: no dancer could ever be too thin. “I want to see bones,” he said. Dancer Gelsey Kirkland describes living with an eating disorder, the inevitable side effect of his “concentration camp aesthetic”.

There is a dark, parasitic corner of the ballet world that Robb began to be trapped within. The part which feeds off a female dancer’s insecurities over her size, her height and her weight — never mind her abilities as a dancer.

Robb talks at length about the pressures so many dancers feel to be the right shape. They are told to lengthen, to stretch out — all euphemisms for: “lose weight”. And she describes, brutally, how women at her school who outgrew the recommended size or could not sustain a well-below-average body weight would not make the cut. Reading, I wondered, was the same about to happen to her?

What really interests me in Robb’s account of dancing is how she exposes a dancer’s physical pain. And the central contradiction of that: what pain means in a world where women still punish themselves and their bodies, in a profession that values this punishment while also appearing to be the height of beauty, elegance and grace. From the descriptions of learning to deal with the pain of pointe shoes, which brought back vivid memories of pouring surgical spirit over raw toes, to what it feels like being man-handled by men from a young age, to the wonderful fact that the force of balancing en pointe is the equivalent to letting the full weight of a grand piano fall on a single toe. All the while she — we — learned never to scream or cry.

The pain of performing while sick, while injured, while heartbroken becomes part of the dancer’s legend. We immortalise and mythologise our worst moments. There was the time I performed with pneumonia, each breath rasping, but still got to the end (weeks in bed was my punishment but returning to work, I was praised for my skinny frame); or the time a physio told me he could not let me dance, but I did anyway, three weeks post full knee reconstruction. The sacrifice, the dying for your art that is part of the culture of dance, is not for the faint-hearted. Add to that a culture of disordered eating, and the pain and sacrifice only ends in tears.

We see that culture everywhere today. I understand how dance exerts its power over young women and appeals to their sense of pain, freedom and sacrifice. I see, too, how dance enables women to escape that sense of being trapped in an imperfect body. To truly be a great dancer one becomes more than one’s body.

But while modern women navigate a world that is still so preoccupied with submission, compliance and pain, the female dancer, in Robb’s eyes, seems to at least be honest with their embrace of masochistic tendencies; they are able to accept that both physical and emotional pain is a prerequisite for dancing. So while we dancers suffer, we know we are doing it for a higher purpose. Robb’s assessment is that the modern woman is in denial. She is “post-wounded”, a term created by Leslie Jamison. She has adopted a stance of numbness or sarcasm. She “conducts herself as if pre-empting certain accusations: don’t cry too loud, don’t play victim, don’t act the old role all over again”. I can identify with this. The idea that no matter how awful, no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, a woman can never, ever “act the victim”.

But is this where modern feminism has brought us? To a place where we have to deny that we have struggled and suffered to take control of our lives and our bodies and the world we live in. In this post-wounded, post-vulnerable world, is it no longer acceptable to expose our pain? There is a generational difference here that Robb does hint at. It is sometimes only by exposing our pain as women that we can come together to say “no we need this — this is important to us”, which makes women of a post-wounded generation simply cringe and recoil. “We are not like the other women, we can handle our pain,” they say, a stance which might not be as helpful or progressive as they realise.

Missing from the book, tellingly perhaps, are the stories of women who have truly succeeded in dance, those who have found creative freedom and choice within these strict confines. This may be born of Robb’s relationship with the artform — she was not able to continue her career. Having rejected ballet and embraced modern dance, I was lucky enough to be inspired by a plethora of strong, independent and pioneering female artists, from Martha Graham and Doris Humphreys to Isadora Duncan and Pina Bausch. Women who created their own style, substance and companies, and gave life to their view of the world material through dance.

What about Robb? I was delighted by her description of the final moments of the dancer Anna Pavlova: her last words were “Get my swan costume ready”. The epitome of the show must go on. Then, in the next paragraph, Robb destroys her legacy, comparing Pavlova’s low legs and poor technique to that of a teenage amateur.

Did Robb miss out on female mentors along the way, I wondered? Was the gaze and award-giver only a man? Did she judge all other women by some impossible standards a man had bestowed on her? Where is the joy, I wondered. Was she never able to escape that bitterly critical voice inside herself and actually dance for her own reward?

It was this aspect of Robb’s examination — that of the somewhat expelled, rejected dancer which ended up being too strong for me. To be an independent voice, a female voice in dance, you need to have almost reached the point of giving up, and when you return, you play it by your own rules. That can be difficult to carry, and it can sometimes be lonely; you forge your own path, and by very definition you are no longer “the good girl”.

But Robb, the spurned dancer, can only hint at what she is still seeking. Comparing a ballet class to an exercise class, she laments the abstraction of the vocabulary of the gym compared with the beautiful vocabulary of ballet. In the gym you feel your “abs” and “quads”, in the studio you can be lifting your leg with an imaginary silver thread, expanding your arms like wings and being supported by the air around you. No mention of the muscles involved — simply an instruction and whisper of visual imagery and close attention to the detail of the movement.

This felt familiar: she knows the dancer’s world of imagination and visualisation, where we are free to conjure beauty and truth with our bodies. Deep down, Robb understands that dancers are not machines; we do not dance for punishment, we dance for love.

Rosie Kay’s 5 SOLDIERS  is touring nationally


Rosie Kay is an award-winning British choreographer and dancer.

RosieKayK2CO

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Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

The second paragraph can be said of anyone in the arts. We all – women and men – have to compete for attention, and that competition is fierce. Most writers, artists, musicians, and singers must have “day jobs”. Dancers, like athletes, rely on their strength, grace, and skill in order to perform. For dancers, there is a specific esthetic involved. I’m sure it’s brutal; it’s the same for wrestlers who endure very strict weight requirements (I knew more than a few male wrestlers in high school; bulimia was commonplace, and encouraged by coaches).
The point is, those of us who choose to make our life in art do so with our eyes open. Some of us, like the author, make a great success of it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allison Barrows
Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Good observations.
Although a lifelong interest, i only started painting seriously after taking early retirement. I liken gaining traction in the art world to trying to climb a brick wall, using just fingernails for leverage.
Success is, of course, always relative. Just getting shown to begin with is a real achievement. Financially secure, i’m not dependent on patronage from individuals or galleries so i’m free to explore where my work takes me. Can’t imagine what it must be like for the thousands of art school graduates churned out every year, all presumably hoping for a career in their chosen field.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Good observations.
Although a lifelong interest, i only started painting seriously after taking early retirement. I liken gaining traction in the art world to trying to climb a brick wall, using just fingernails for leverage.
Success is, of course, always relative. Just getting shown to begin with is a real achievement. Financially secure, i’m not dependent on patronage from individuals or galleries so i’m free to explore where my work takes me. Can’t imagine what it must be like for the thousands of art school graduates churned out every year, all presumably hoping for a career in their chosen field.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

The second paragraph can be said of anyone in the arts. We all – women and men – have to compete for attention, and that competition is fierce. Most writers, artists, musicians, and singers must have “day jobs”. Dancers, like athletes, rely on their strength, grace, and skill in order to perform. For dancers, there is a specific esthetic involved. I’m sure it’s brutal; it’s the same for wrestlers who endure very strict weight requirements (I knew more than a few male wrestlers in high school; bulimia was commonplace, and encouraged by coaches).
The point is, those of us who choose to make our life in art do so with our eyes open. Some of us, like the author, make a great success of it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allison Barrows
Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

“ A ballet career, however, is a gruelling one, and all dancers, particularly female ones, face the constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream.”
How and why particularly female dancers? I see this sentiment asserted often but I’m sceptical. Is it worse or do females not cope as well? Is it just political expediency to assert this? Is it just in the air and repeated?

Linda Hutchinson
LH
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Male ballet dancers rarely have to dance en pointe for any extended period, and, although they need to be physically fit, they are not continuously pressured into losing weight.

A Willis
A Willis
1 year ago

“Male dancers tend to have greater number of dancing days lost due to injury and might be at greater risk of injury from techniques such as lifts with female dancers.”
Steere, Dr. Karin; Duncan, Amanda; Johnstone, Kaitlyn; and Lux, Emma, “Low Back Injuries in Male Ballet Dancers: A Review of the Literature” (2017). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 36.
https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/ptsymposium/36

Last edited 1 year ago by A Willis
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  A Willis

Maybe they are not stoical enough 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  A Willis

Maybe they are not stoical enough 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
A Willis
A Willis
1 year ago

“Male dancers tend to have greater number of dancing days lost due to injury and might be at greater risk of injury from techniques such as lifts with female dancers.”
Steere, Dr. Karin; Duncan, Amanda; Johnstone, Kaitlyn; and Lux, Emma, “Low Back Injuries in Male Ballet Dancers: A Review of the Literature” (2017). Physical Therapy Research Symposium. 36.
https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/ptsymposium/36

Last edited 1 year ago by A Willis
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

“How and why particularly female dancers?”
The “dancer” part at the end is a bit redundant.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

A strange article. She blames men for all the problems faced by ballet dancers but I’m not sure exactly who is guilty (other than Ballantine, apparently), and what they have done wrong.
She also claims “a woman can never, ever act the victim”. This is so patently untrue, an inversion of reality, that it’s bordering on ludicrous. Acting the victim and claiming victimisation are the epitome of women today and have been for several decades. This fact seems to have gone unnoticed by the writer.

Emily Riedel
Emily Riedel
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I agree, but I think the author was referring to the pressures on women, (or people, I might add) who perform within this art form. Having been to a conservatory, (not for dance) I can say that the pressure to shut up, work your ass off and take it is extremely high. Everything was performance based, everything you did was critiqued. Exhibiting stoicism through it all meant that you were a professional, not a whiner, fit to carry the banner of this sacred, classical art form. I don’t personally think that’s such a bad thing, but it can get out of control and cause damage, especially to young people.

Emily Riedel
Emily Riedel
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I agree, but I think the author was referring to the pressures on women, (or people, I might add) who perform within this art form. Having been to a conservatory, (not for dance) I can say that the pressure to shut up, work your ass off and take it is extremely high. Everything was performance based, everything you did was critiqued. Exhibiting stoicism through it all meant that you were a professional, not a whiner, fit to carry the banner of this sacred, classical art form. I don’t personally think that’s such a bad thing, but it can get out of control and cause damage, especially to young people.

Mindy Nagel
Mindy Nagel
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

All good points shared here. Also there are just far more females engaged in ballet training than males at every level. As a ballet student I saw boys with very poor natural facility for ballet and even worse technique awarded scholarships based solely on the fact that they were boys and schools need more boys. Then as an adult I saw men, again of questionable ability, accepted into companies and awarded roles simply because men were needed. There is no doubt that ballet is difficult and damaging for men’s bodies too and hiring is very competitive for men as well, but the standards are just lower for men because the talent pool is smaller.

Linda Hutchinson
LH
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Male ballet dancers rarely have to dance en pointe for any extended period, and, although they need to be physically fit, they are not continuously pressured into losing weight.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

“How and why particularly female dancers?”
The “dancer” part at the end is a bit redundant.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

A strange article. She blames men for all the problems faced by ballet dancers but I’m not sure exactly who is guilty (other than Ballantine, apparently), and what they have done wrong.
She also claims “a woman can never, ever act the victim”. This is so patently untrue, an inversion of reality, that it’s bordering on ludicrous. Acting the victim and claiming victimisation are the epitome of women today and have been for several decades. This fact seems to have gone unnoticed by the writer.

Mindy Nagel
Mindy Nagel
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

All good points shared here. Also there are just far more females engaged in ballet training than males at every level. As a ballet student I saw boys with very poor natural facility for ballet and even worse technique awarded scholarships based solely on the fact that they were boys and schools need more boys. Then as an adult I saw men, again of questionable ability, accepted into companies and awarded roles simply because men were needed. There is no doubt that ballet is difficult and damaging for men’s bodies too and hiring is very competitive for men as well, but the standards are just lower for men because the talent pool is smaller.

Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

“ A ballet career, however, is a gruelling one, and all dancers, particularly female ones, face the constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream.”
How and why particularly female dancers? I see this sentiment asserted often but I’m sceptical. Is it worse or do females not cope as well? Is it just political expediency to assert this? Is it just in the air and repeated?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

The article sounds just like my career as a window cleaner, uncanny.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Jonathan Andrews
JA
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago

Now I go cleanin’ windows to earn an honest bob
For a nosy parker it’s an interestin’ job
Now it’s a job that just suits me
A window cleaner you would be
If you can see what I can see
When I’m cleanin’ windows
Honeymoonin’ couples too
You should see them bill ‘n coo
You’d be surprised at things they do
When I’m cleanin’ windows

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

Oh the ukulele playing. The constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream and no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, you can never, ever “act the victim”

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

Oh the ukulele playing. The constant impossibility of fulfilling that dream and no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, you can never, ever “act the victim”

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Did you also train as a medical student in a bawdy 1970’s hospital?

Jonathan Andrews
JA
Jonathan Andrews
1 year ago

Now I go cleanin’ windows to earn an honest bob
For a nosy parker it’s an interestin’ job
Now it’s a job that just suits me
A window cleaner you would be
If you can see what I can see
When I’m cleanin’ windows
Honeymoonin’ couples too
You should see them bill ‘n coo
You’d be surprised at things they do
When I’m cleanin’ windows

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

Did you also train as a medical student in a bawdy 1970’s hospital?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

The article sounds just like my career as a window cleaner, uncanny.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Why not do modern dance instead and avoid the needless foot pain ? I’ve seen good modern dance and ballet and prefer to watch modern dance.
Bragging about the supposedly “wonderful fact that the force of balancing en pointe is the equivalent to letting the full weight of a grand piano fall on a single toe” seems both wilfully stupid and unnecessary.
Ballet shoes seem rather reminiscent of Chinese foot binding. Only self-inflicted.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Perhaps in future people will wonder why this form of painful art is encouraged – just as we are astonished at the enthusiasm for castrati in former times.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

When my daughter was training, pointe meant mastery and a move into an aesthetic she loved. The Balanchine influence also pushes long limbs, short backs whereas in the past the women could also have longer backs and shorter limbs which puts less strain on the back.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

It’s a serious, good question because it relates to a lot of decision making by young girls and their decision making.

Based on a lot of personal experience and writings by females – women would rather follow the herd, and do what they are told is best (invariably by other women), and rather whinge and complain about it (usually blaming men) rather than take charge of their lives. Despite all the guff about strong women etc.

You need to start working on your little daughter from a young age, keep prompting her to think what she is doing, ask her what she really wants, and follow her own mind.
Incidentally, you need the dad to do that. Always. No matter how much feminism the mum spouts, if left to them their daughters will follow the beaten path and do whatever mum and society says.

Hence a lot of foot pain inducing dances but hardly any women playing video games or going to watch football, for instance.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

75% of the gamers I know are female – and I know a lot of gamers, so don’t generalise please. Plenty of women enjoy football as well, “hardly any” is massive hyperbole on your part.

Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
1 year ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

75% of the gamers I know are female – and I know a lot of gamers, so don’t generalise please. Plenty of women enjoy football as well, “hardly any” is massive hyperbole on your part.

David Jennings
DJ
David Jennings
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

this reminds me of the old joke that all of this could be avoided if ballet comapneis would only hire taller dancers.

Jeremy Bray
JB
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Perhaps in future people will wonder why this form of painful art is encouraged – just as we are astonished at the enthusiasm for castrati in former times.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

When my daughter was training, pointe meant mastery and a move into an aesthetic she loved. The Balanchine influence also pushes long limbs, short backs whereas in the past the women could also have longer backs and shorter limbs which puts less strain on the back.

Samir Iker
SI
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

It’s a serious, good question because it relates to a lot of decision making by young girls and their decision making.

Based on a lot of personal experience and writings by females – women would rather follow the herd, and do what they are told is best (invariably by other women), and rather whinge and complain about it (usually blaming men) rather than take charge of their lives. Despite all the guff about strong women etc.

You need to start working on your little daughter from a young age, keep prompting her to think what she is doing, ask her what she really wants, and follow her own mind.
Incidentally, you need the dad to do that. Always. No matter how much feminism the mum spouts, if left to them their daughters will follow the beaten path and do whatever mum and society says.

Hence a lot of foot pain inducing dances but hardly any women playing video games or going to watch football, for instance.

David Jennings
David Jennings
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

this reminds me of the old joke that all of this could be avoided if ballet comapneis would only hire taller dancers.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

Why not do modern dance instead and avoid the needless foot pain ? I’ve seen good modern dance and ballet and prefer to watch modern dance.
Bragging about the supposedly “wonderful fact that the force of balancing en pointe is the equivalent to letting the full weight of a grand piano fall on a single toe” seems both wilfully stupid and unnecessary.
Ballet shoes seem rather reminiscent of Chinese foot binding. Only self-inflicted.

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
1 year ago

The idea that no matter how awful, no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, a woman can never, ever “act the victim”.

Is this what they call gaslighting?

blanda luciano
blanda luciano
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

This reminds me of the old joke that all of this might be prevented if ballet companies just hired taller dancers.

geometry dash

blanda luciano
BL
blanda luciano
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Hume

This reminds me of the old joke that all of this might be prevented if ballet companies just hired taller dancers.

geometry dash

Chris Hume
Chris Hume
1 year ago

The idea that no matter how awful, no matter how terrible or traumatic or painful an experience, a woman can never, ever “act the victim”.

Is this what they call gaslighting?

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
1 year ago

This was a great essay. One of my daughters is a dancer, and like the essay’s author has so far had far more training in modern dance than in classical ballet (though ballet remains her first love and chief goal), and mostly only female teachers and coaches along the way. The few male instructors have (in her words) been far less constructive, and far tougher (with one notable exception, a self-certified “male feminist”, who has been, well…. weirder). Her toughest female teacher and coach was a diminutive Cuban expat with a sharp temper and keen wit who was brutal to dancers who didn’t take the work seriously, but this same teacher, who came out of the Balanchine school, also rewarded work and built up the girls she coached, and tried to teach them mental toughness. My daughter credits this teacher with much of her own success.
The dance world is very tough, and the ballet world is very prone to a snootiness that exceeds the normal bounds of esprit de corps. But my daughter (so far) wouldn’t trade it – the dance itself is the reward.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan
1 year ago

This was a great essay. One of my daughters is a dancer, and like the essay’s author has so far had far more training in modern dance than in classical ballet (though ballet remains her first love and chief goal), and mostly only female teachers and coaches along the way. The few male instructors have (in her words) been far less constructive, and far tougher (with one notable exception, a self-certified “male feminist”, who has been, well…. weirder). Her toughest female teacher and coach was a diminutive Cuban expat with a sharp temper and keen wit who was brutal to dancers who didn’t take the work seriously, but this same teacher, who came out of the Balanchine school, also rewarded work and built up the girls she coached, and tried to teach them mental toughness. My daughter credits this teacher with much of her own success.
The dance world is very tough, and the ballet world is very prone to a snootiness that exceeds the normal bounds of esprit de corps. But my daughter (so far) wouldn’t trade it – the dance itself is the reward.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

“Swan Lake” with men? Surely not?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

“Swan Lake” with men? Surely not?

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
1 year ago

I would be interested to know if ‘modern’ dancers also feel the same pressure to be thin, best, dedicated, perfect etc? I suspect that some of the issues are not limited to classical ballet, and that many young women impose these competitive pressures on themselves, as they undoubtedly do in many other spheres of life. Don’t think we can blame it all on Balanchine

Penny Mcwilliams
Penny Mcwilliams
1 year ago

I would be interested to know if ‘modern’ dancers also feel the same pressure to be thin, best, dedicated, perfect etc? I suspect that some of the issues are not limited to classical ballet, and that many young women impose these competitive pressures on themselves, as they undoubtedly do in many other spheres of life. Don’t think we can blame it all on Balanchine

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

Rosie Kay often substitutes the word ‘dance’ for the word ‘ballet’. Kay should have been honest and made it clear that the extreme physical, diet and sexual demands are for a form of dance that is subsidised and patronised because it is the supposed highest form of European culture. Kay also does not make it clear that she is not talking about excelling at dance but about having a professional career in dance.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I would rather remove my spleen with a blunt knife than have to endure so much as a nano second of watching ballet, let alone actually paying so to do.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago

Can we watch?

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
1 year ago

Can we watch?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I would rather remove my spleen with a blunt knife than have to endure so much as a nano second of watching ballet, let alone actually paying so to do.