Curtain Up

June 22, 2008

As a young dancer,
I would practically drool over the older girls who I thought were beautiful. When I was 10, there was a dancer named Nina with extravagant wrists. When I was 15, it was a redhead named Linda who attacked every movement with flair. When I was 17, I tried to analyze what body part or movement quality struck me as beautiful. Was it the tilt of her head, the line of her arabesque, or a slow and controlled développé? My tastes changed along with the classes. At the School of American Ballet, I admired the girls with long legs. At the Martha Graham School, I admired the young women who looked like they were rooted to the earth.


In this Body Issue, we look at the way the dancing body is changing. Associate editor Emily Macel writes about “The Athletic Aesthetic,” a growing trend led by companies like Pilobolus and Streb, where women do the lifting as often as the men. The cut look for women (see our cover girl from Hubbard Street, Meredith Dincolo) is everywhere, from stage to screen to stadium. And women are becoming more frank about their sexuality onstage. In “Is It Sexist to Be Sexy?” Victoria Looseleaf talks to five dancers who know how to exude sexiness—but not at the expense of artistry.


Ideas of beauty are also evolving in how we see, not just how we are seen. In “In the Eyes of the Beholder,” Dance Magazine asks nine dancers and dancemakers about what they see as beautiful. For each one, their answer reveals something deeply personal. Taken together, I think they reflect the dance world’s willingness to redefine beauty.

No matter what
the ideals are, dancers at all levels of success have to face the limitations of their bodies. In “How I Learned to Accept My Body and Dance On,” San Francisco Ballet star Tina LeBlanc speaks openly about her long struggle with her body image. Although she still has days when she wishes she could trade in her body, she’s gained a perspective that clearly allows her to be the great artist she is.

An eloquent reminder
that the art of dance goes beyond the body—and all the obsessions surrounding body image—is this month’s “Why I Dance,” written by Alicia Graf. A lead Ailey dancer, Graf writes about how hard a dance career is, and then says, “But baby, when the curtain rises, and those lights start shining, something deep inside is ignited. We create our own cosmos of joy and inspiration.”

P.S. Talking about the eye of the beholder, we invite you to post your dance videos on to enter Dance Magazine’s new Video of the Month contest.