Early July Morning, Cocoa Beach, Florida

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Makes a Great Dancer?

My daughter is going to school at Brigham Young University and majoring in dance. Her ultimate goal would be to become a choreographer and to start a dance company for special needs children. She would like to become a dance therapist and work with special needs children, especially with the autistic community. She has always been good with children, and having two autistic cousins, she has really become interested in autism. On her journey to this great goal, she has been busy with her major. She is on the BYU International Folk Team, and will be doing some touring with the group this summer. This semester, she is taking quite a few classes, among which are Dance History, Jazz, Modern Marathon, Book of Mormon, and Anatomy (with cadavers), are just a few of the 9 classes she is taking this semester. In addition, she is working and assisting in teaching a tap class on campus...she is a VERY busy girl!!

In one of the dance classes she is taking, she has to write a paper; the subject--body image of a dancer. She sent out a request on her Facebook to her dance friends asking them, "I'm doing a paper on the body image of a dancer and what is considered beautiful and how it has changed throughout the years. I was wondering what you're opinion of beautiful is and what you consider to be the ideal dancer?" This was my answer to her--"I've been in the dance world for many, many years. When I was your age, the "perfect" dancer had long LEAN lines. I know many great dancers that had great lines, even though the dancer was not "lean." You can still have long beautiful lines even though you are not thin (just like a short person on stage can look tall). Sometimes I have seen dancers that were so thin, it was distracting. I can think of several times when I was with a group, watching a dance program, and seeing one dancer so incredibly thin, that all we could do is talk about how skinny she was, and how she looked like she might have been sick.

"Majoring in dance in the early 80"s, body fat was a great concern, and many times, dance teams would take everyone's body fat. I would see girls who looked skinny, but their body fat was on the high side, and they were encouraged to get that down. This is where many would find themselves with anorexia and bulimia. I danced with several girls that developed these problems.

Today, it seems, that the "perfect" dancer still has great lines, but also great muscle tone. They are built more like an athlete (which they are). It is great to see this. No longer do we see dance teams taking their body fat, and harping on them to loose weight. When I see a dancer with great muscle tone, I see strength, not weakness. I believe, anyone can be a great dancer, no matter what body type. I have seen a few girls who were quite heavy, who could still move quite well, and I applaud them for getting out there and moving. And, by the way, I do agree with what Cassie (someone else who replied to her question) has said, that the best dancers are the ones who dance from their heart...

This I believe, is what my daughter does. This is what makes her such a great dancer (and person). She dances from the heart...she lives from the heart...

1 comment:

  1. I remember taking a tap class when in the middle of class the instructor stopped the music and basically said that everyone but two students in the class needed to lose weight. I've also noticed these days that the ultra-thin dancer has now become the ultra-muscular dancer, and though I would have never been able to create the kind of muscle mass I see on most dancers today, I think it is much healthier and looks much better.