The wispy quality of professional ballerinas sets a precedent for aspiring dancers that is often unachievable through healthy practices. As a result, young dancers are typically tempted to change their bodies by overexercising or under-eating. According to a study in 2019, dancers are three times more likely to develop an eating disorder than non-dancers.
In my interviews with current and former ballet dancers, I found their stories of body shame and eating disorders echoed my own. We pushed ourselves through 8 hours of dance with nothing but a granola bar in our stomachs. We hated wearing a leotard and tights in front of a mirror all day. We all had these experiences and still, many of my interview questions were met with the phrase, “I’ve never told anyone this but…”
To start conversations about body shame in the performing arts, I am creating a collaborative video project using aerial dance and original music to express how ballet shaped my body image. This piece will demonstrate the restriction of body shame and the freedom of relinquishing that shame. We will shoot the video in April 2021 and begin recording the music in May.
Viewers will walk away with an increased sense of responsibility to consider the way they talk about thinness in addition to promoting critical thinking about how they treat their bodies. Alongside the video, we will share informative resources including the names and emails of local health professionals and advanced performers who are willing to discuss body shame.
I am connected with 7 training facilities for young athletes in Oakland that would benefit from Corps de Ballet and the accompanying resources. Kinetic Arts Center, a circus gym in Oakland, has agreed to premiere the music video to all 50 students in their youth and teen troupes virtually.
Funded by Oakland, CA (April 2021)