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.

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Ballet BC dancers Tara Williamson, left, and Darren Devaney in RITE by Emily Molnar. Photo by Chris Randle, Courtesy Ballet BC

Why Do Mixed-Rep Companies Still Rely on Ballet for Company Class?

In a single performance by a mixed-rep company, you might see its shape-shifting dancers performing barefoot, in sneakers and in heels. While such a group may have "ballet" in its name and even a rack of tutus in storage, its current relationship to the art form can be tenuous at best. That disconnect grows wider every year as contemporary choreographers look beyond ballet—if not beyond white Western forms entirely—in search of new inspiration and foundational techniques.

Yet dancers at almost all of the world's leading mixed-rep ensembles take ballet classes before rehearsals and shows. Most companies rarely depart from ballet more than twice a week and some never offer alternative classes.

"The question, 'Why do you take ballet class to prepare you for repertory which is not strictly classical?' has been in the air since Diaghilev's time," says Peter Lewton-Brain, Monaco-based president of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science. "What you're doing onstage is often not what you're doing in class."

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