Just Because I'm a Ballerina...

Let's get some of these ballerina stereotypes corrected.

Photo:  Katarina Sokolova

Just because I'm a Ballerina, it doesn't mean...

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...that I hate my body.

While there are some body issues in the dance world, not all ballerinas have an unhealthy obsession with their bodies. Most love our bodies and what they are capable of! Most dancers know what their body needs to keep up with a busy day of physical conditioning, and they respect that. Our bodies are our tools to work with. Most dancers respect their bodies more than most can imagine. Yes, occasionally we feel "let down" by our bodies, if we're having a bad turn day or things just aren't happening as they usually do. But we chalk that up to a "bad day" and move on, still giving our body the nursing attention it may need.

...that I don't eat.

It is often portrayed that ballerinas don't eat. It isn't the whole truth. Dancers are very aware of what goes into their bodies because "we are what we eat" and so we know "we can't dance without eating." Our body needs the proper fuel. In fact, in some cases, it is dancers who eat the most we've ever seen! Dancers know and manage their diets better than anyone I know. They know what - how much - and when.

...that I obsess over everything.

We will admit that part of why dancers are so amazing is that they have a super hero willpower and focus to succeed. But they aren't Black Swanning it up every day. Dancers know that progress takes time and effort (with more time). While dancers work hard, they don't break down at every request from a teacher. They are more mature and stable than Black Swan portrayed.

...that I am gay.

This is a stereotype that has followed ballet for years. Quite simply: It's true when it's true, and it's not true when it's not true. It has everything to do with the person, and nothing to do with ballet. This is a stereotype that we wish would go away. It keeps young male dancers from entering the field, since they may not have support from family members. This needs to change!

...that I am conceited.

There can always be snobby people in any field, but most dancers we know are kind hearted and come from a genuine place. Sure, the competition is fierce and it can get ugly (like in business), but at the end of the day, dancers form a special bond that keeps them together in the special world of dance. They support each other, lift each other up, and they are there for understanding when an understanding heart is needed.

...that I don't have a real job.

The responses one gets when you say, "I'm a ballerina" or "I'm a dance teacher" may be along the lines of, "Oh, that's fun! Spinning and twirling all day! Must be nice!" They say it with that tone of, "Well, that's the easy life..." They could not be more wrong. Dance is difficult beyond what most can imagine. You are dancing for hours and hours and hours a day. Your body is pushed to its limits. Your mind is challenged every second, remembering every detail. You are listening to feedback, correcting, trying again, re-trying, correcting, listening. The process is relentless and exhausting. It's a JOB. It is WORK.

...that I'm a stripper who works in Vegas.

People like to connect the ideas of "dancers" and "Vegas." That is the very connection that most dancers strive to prove are nothing alike. Because they are nothing alike. While dancers make their own life choices the way everyone does, not all dancers end up on a pole somewhere in a desert, collecting dollar bills. That just simply isn't... it. And to continue that connection is harming all of the hard work dancers do to disconnect those ideas and images in the dance world.

Dancers are some of the most fascinating people we know. They inspire us every day as we work alongside them, dance with them, learn with them. Other dancers help make us better dancers and better people.

Also! Dance education is no less than dance performance. If there was no dance education, there would be no dance performance.

The dance world has been purposefully a mystery from the world's view, because it is magical. It is a mixture of hard work, talent, creativity and pure magic. It is performance. It is business. It is inspiration, friendship, dedication, love, passion, stress, tears and a very tight community.

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