Ballet is arguably one of the most graceful and beautiful styles of dance. It is well known by many people across the world. The art of ballet started out as a kind of dance for the wealthiest families in history. This art was born at a time when Roman and Geek Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries started which revived interest in the arts and in human too. The term “ballet” comes from the Italian word “Balla” which simply means dance. Ballet is a deeply traditional form where fixed steps are in a canonical way linked to each other which can be combined to make an unbounded variety of dances (Guidetti 78). Just like football which is quite a demanding physical game, ballet is also a physically demanding activity though unlike football, the body is used as a form of expression.
Ostensibly, ballet is meant to be elegant and graceful not physically demanding like football. The art and the grace of a ballet performance controvert all the physical strain that is associated with it. In ballet, there is a principle that is used of overload that consists of three variables in training; frequency, duration and intensity. In order to experience increases in the improvement of skill, performance and technique, these variables must be manipulated or increased. Characters in classical ballet normally perform on a proscenium stage which in most cases has spectacular scenery on the side of the stage. The art of ballet began as a fun dance for the well up individuals in the society and it has over the years evolved into a worldwide and elegant form of structured expressions In the face of it, ballet is basically a combination of music and dance to create an unspoken language in which dancers use their bodies and energy to tell a story in a beautiful that is catching.
Despite the beautiful outcome, ballerinas constantly battle with pressure and stress which greatly impacts them mentally, emotionally and physically.
A ballerina’s life
So many little girls envy and desire to become a ballerina, most of who have in one time in their lives have had clear images of themselves in Pointe shoes, pretty pink tutu and standing on stage looking stunning. The unseen part in a ballerina life is strenuous, full of commitment, dedication and stressful. Ballerinas go through a lot including injuries in order to perfect their skill. The life of a ballet dancer is exceedingly difficult; to start with, one needs to understand that their life is much different from the others, it is divided into four stages; the first is the pre-professional, the second is the established older professional and the last stage is the retired dancer. All these stages have unique training which advances with levels. Most ballet dancers start training early in their teenage years where they train for 2 to 4 hours 6 days a week, they follow this routine until they perfect their skills to start training for 3 to 5 hours 6 days a week as they perfect their skill (Zenic 14).
Becoming a professional ballet dancer takes years of practice and training. Dancing is arguably one of the greatest passions full of dedication and commitment. It is a hard life being a ballerina. These dancers need to keep fit, swift and have blade thin limbs. Classical ballet is intended for a specific type of body, an aspect that most people including the audience do not see. Ballet instructors always insist ballerinas to keep fit and cut more weight so as to have the ideal structure that supports the dance and the moves. They often have to hit the gym, do several sit ups and have special diet including special tea. A majority of ballerinas especially those who are extremely dedicated work exceedingly hard. They starve themselves, take swim classes and join their colleagues at the gym all in the name of keeping fit. Staying focused is not an option for a ballerina; it is an obligation, an aspect that spectators have no second thought about. Most people immediately think that these dancers live in fairyland with no stress.
There are enough divergence and conflict in the world as it is, the ballet’s whole concept is allowing people from different walks of life and the real fans to escape their normal routines and hassles for a few moments in order to get entertained. When ballerinas go on stage, their aim is to bring the audience with them to a whole new world. Though not a perfect world, but a free world where even in brokenness beauty found, in faith comes peace and in love you find freedom. In order to achieve all this, ballerinas dedicated to experience real change in life through learning a skill after another, staying grounded and remaining focused. Discipline is the core issue here. Some of the many obstacles faced by ballerinas include dancing on racked or hard floor, being injured, having jet-lag strange food, having a negative self-image, disappointments with casting, changing partners, costume issues, getting criticism among others.
Eating disorders affect the vast majority of ballet dancers in today’s society. Ballet dancers are at greater risks of developing eating disorders majorly because of the fondness to conform to the stereotype of the ideal dancer. Ballet schools are having a weight-obsessed culture which has been adopted by ballet students as a way to be considered attractive. Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, EDNOS and Binge Eating Disorders are the main types that are considered forms of eating disorders which could result in dangerous and life threatening consequences. Consequently, thinness-related learning experiences such as comparisons between peers, promotion of dieting, weighing and conducting tests especially in skin-fold could lead to certain expressions of various symptoms of eating disorders. Seemingly, ballerinas who have a high degree of perfectionism have varying perception of the rate at which the expectation of thinness is less perfected. Symptoms of depression can pretty much complicate the entire picture, for instance, dancers who score highly on the inventory of depression are much likely to perceive pressure regarding risking the development of eating disorders, their choices of food and appearance (Rinaldi 114).
Almost all ballet dancers are continually working to improve their weight. They are always stressed by their teachers and instructors who insist on them to be thin enough. Seemingly, this issue is alarming because it stresses these ballerinas with weight loss programs lead them down to a road that they are not in a position to come back up. To a large extent, the risk of developing eating disorders depends to some degree on psychological and academic characteristics of ballet schools. Ballet schools have a role to play in preventing eating disorders by developing coherent policies that curb this menace. Among these policies could be, monitoring students’ stages of preoccupation with their shape, weight of food and also depressive symptoms that can easily assess perfection levels using questionnaires to determine the students' issues and ways in which they could be at risk.
Smoking with dancers particularly ballerinas have a long history. Sometimes ballerinas smoke as an alternative to eating. In a competitive world like dancing, ballerinas usually go extreme strengths to improve themselves. They place great importance on physical health, fitness and strength, and more to that, smoking leads to diminishing fitness, loss of strength and untoward health. Smoking still remains the number one preventable cause of death among ballerinas. It is a very unhealthy way of dieting as it results in anorexia and other disorders as well. There are many drawbacks of smoking for dancers which include; reduced athletic performance, increased risk of illness, greater risks of injury and slower healing time and premature facial wrinkling. Moreover, this predicament is entirely caused by the strenuous tasks done by ballerinas. Ballerinas go into smoking to get stimulated after being stressed in ballet schools. It is contended that the whole concept especially of time preference, the personal valuations of future and present consumptions would resolve this perceptible absurdity. If not obsessed, dancers passionate with their work although to a great extent, their careers are dimmed.
Dancers should not trash their bodies but take good care of them. From an athletic standpoint, smoking is like dancing with a fifty pound of weight on their back. Smoking causes disturbance of the heart rhythm and causes chest pains when exercising and during physical activity. To a great extent, it impairs ballerinas’ ability to perform. Ballet dancers should have a good posture, therefore. Smoking causes the bone/spine disease and a lot more including damaging lungs.
The journey to a prosperous career for ballerinas is an uphill task. Most of them have a hard time learning new moves and perfecting them. Majority of ballerinas are stressed most of time as they have an obligation to commit to their training and practice. Injuries, perfectionism and stress are the main causes of a strenuous life for ballerinas. Injuries for instance, can have profound negative consequences on the performance and health of ballerinas. Training and performance is also demanding and these dancers endure overuse injuries. Compared to other dancers, ballerinas are at great risk of getting injuries including stress fractures because the task itself is risky, engaging and stressful. In many instances, it has been found that perfectionism and stress are possible psychological correlates of injury in ballet.
Ballet is hard and ballerinas are not assured of always getting what they want as there is always more to learn, practice and perfect. If being a ballerina is one’s long dream and it is the only thing they have, then it no doubt that stress is a part of them because there is always more they can learn. Even with the assistance of the best choreographers and teachers, there is always something new in store for their students. The moment a ballerina thinks they know it all, they automatically stop being a valuable asset. A ballerina never knows when their ballet career will suddenly vanish since they do not control who hires them, who like them and who doesn’t or the politics of being in school or company. The advice for ballerinas would be that they do not at any one time waste their talent and energy dwelling on uncertainties they have no control of.
In addition to that, information for a ballerina is not true knowledge. In the real sense knowledge comes from experience and a ballerina has to experience performance firsthand to call them a professional dancer. Being a ballerina entails a lot more than what is easily seen. They have a long task of proving to their employers and tutors that they are indeed competent and that they don’t need them. Secondly, though repetition is good, doing same thing time and again expecting different results is insane. To a great extent, one could affirm that a career in ballet is engaging, challenging and stressful than any other. Remaining relevant in the game and learning new skills is hard nut to crack. Ballet is a career that demands the upmost maturity as early as young age so as to adopt the culture and learn new skills. It is not an easy road, perfection and expertise is of the essence in this demanding career.
Ballet is a career of its own state. Unlike other careers where can multitask or venture into something else, ballet is right the opposite of that. Although in several ways it just like other careers, it takes perseverance, hard work and determination for one to get where they want. It is the kind of career where one cannot quite balance their commitments to ballet and their social lives in school. Most ballerinas spend most of their time learning new skill, practicing in school or performing in events. In order to be a skillful ballerina, it would take you all your life which is not very good. There is a lot of commitment in it and at times parents, friends family and associates may not understand the deep commitment especially the deep dedication that prepares you for success (Speck 6).
Moreover, ballerinas spend long days and nights practicing for events. This comes especially when they get to high school a time when their A game is on and they have nothing to chuck off. Most importantly, one can make a living as a professional ballerina since most of the time you support yourself practicing on a daily basis. Being a professional ballerina means that you definitely have to work harder than before: rehearsing, between classes and when performing. Ballet as a career is very engaging, you have to constantly practice, read about professional dancers, and look for YouTube videos and find dance blogs in order to perfect your skills.
Personally, I was lucky enough to start ballet at the age of four. Although it is not very professional in our country I still would accredit its importance in guiding me in my career path. Taking the first step is normally the hardest, but through focusing on your main objective, finding qualified teachers and practicing enough, you can be certain that you will get good training. Ballet is a unique career like no other that demands attention, commitment and total dedication. It is more strenuous than seeking justice in an uncivilized nation. Despite its drawbacks, the skills learnt and developed through it can be coherent transferable skills which could be applied to any career path.
Guidetti, Laura, et al. "Energy cost and energy sources of a ballet dance exercise in female adolescents with different technical ability." European journal of applied physiology 103.3 (2008): 315-321.
Rinaldi, Robin. Ballet. New York: Chelsea House, 2010. Internet resource.
Speck, Scott, and Evelyn Cisneros. Ballet for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub, 2003. Internet resource.
Zenic, Natasa, et al. "Comparative analysis of substance use in ballet, dance sport, and synchronized swimming." Med Probl Perform Art 25 (2010): 75-81.