Even since I saw Center Stage, that old cliche coming-of-age ballerina’s tale, I’ve always been slightly obsessed with the world of ballet. The graceful movement, the strength, the seemingly effortless ability to fly through the air on a whim, it is truly remarkable.
But unfortunately, ballet is ruled by very strict body standards. Chief among them, typically, only slender, tiny bodies are allowed with almost no room for even the slightest variation. Take the now renowned Misty Copeland’s ad for Under Armour, which featured a compilation of her rejection letters from ballet schools.
The world of ballet celebrates slim, toned bodies, and curves are usually nowhere to be found. But, in quite a few recent cases, curvy women have let their love for ballet trump the negative perceptions of their bodies.
In February 2014, an inspiring documentary series called Big Ballet came out on the small screen. Over three intense episodes, former Senior Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet Company, Wayne Sleep, UK women who wear sizes 12-24 in a unique reimagining of the classic production, Swan Lake. With the help of renowned Irish ballerina, Monica Loughman, these women were able to channel their skills and passion for dance into a beautiful performance.
What I find inspiring about this endeavor is that it gave curvier women a chance to you know, actually live their dreams. Plenty of these women revealed that they danced at one point in their lives, but eventually stopped, mainly due to their size – the real dealbreaker. Through this program, they were able to return to something that once gave them so much joy, and this time, their size was celebrated and accommodated. Not shamed.
Last month, Frostine Shake, a makeup artist and burlesque dancer from Texas, also made waves because of her unique skills in point shoes. She decided to stop traditional ballet when she was in her late teens because of the negative atmosphere concerning her body.
Now, she incorporates ballet into her burlesque act because it is a positive to use her fabulous skills. As she told Buzzfeed, “I started to explore different types of dance that gave me freedom to express myself in a body-positive way…Burlesque showcased my love of dance, art, music, and fashion.”
These women are proving that curves don’t take away from the grace and beauty of ballet. Ballet can be transformed via the curvy body into a more fluid art form. There are so many ways you can use this rigid style of dance, and the possibilities are only limited by your stereotypes.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Creative Commons.)