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4 Ways to Boost Your Body Image in the Studio

Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet, offers tips for creating a more body-positive studio experience:


1. Ditch the Mirrors.

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Kaslow recommends that teachers lead class with the mirrors covered once in a while. If this isn't possible, try taking a break from constantly assessing your reflection throughout class. Think of the mirror as a tool to rehearse your relationship with the audience rather than as an outlet to scrutinize your shape.

2. Drown Out the Noise.

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"Dancers will hear comments their teachers make, what their parents say, what someone else's parents say, and every little comment can grow into a big picture," says Kaslow. But no one's opinion is as valuable as your own. Your own self-encouragement is more significant than the chatter on the periphery.

3. Don't Forget Your Strengths.

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Remember that the best dancers aren't lauded for how much they weigh. "Appreciate what your body brings to the table," Kaslow says.

4. Talk About It.

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Acknowledge that everyone needs a little help with their confidence, and that you aren't alone when it comes to insecurities about your body. "Oftentimes, people don't come for help until they have an outright eating disorder," Kaslow warns. If you normalize healthy conversations about self-image with your peers and colleagues, it can help stop an insecurity from turning into something more harmful.

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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