Susan Jaffe teaching at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Photo by Peter Mueller, Courtesy UNCSA.

How Can I Boost My Body Image?

Thanks to my nutritionist, I've started eating right. Now I desperately want to improve my negative body image. My friends tell me I look good, but I don't believe them. I obsess over every flaw and find class depressing. What should I do?

—Crappy Body Image, Hoboken, NJ


The best remedy is to shift your attention to what really matters: your dancing. Placement, musicality and technique will help you get a competitive edge, not body checking. Searching for imperfections in the mirror or comparing yourself to others will only reinforce a habit of negative self-appraisal. By focusing on factors that affect your performance, you'll have a much better class and your body image should improve. A cognitive-behavioral psychologist can also help. Check out The Renfrew Center's nationwide referral list for a specialist near you.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at advicefordancers@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


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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