When Ballet Goes Wrong
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There are many gifted ballerinas in the world who tragically had to end their careers due to a number of factors. Let's take a look at what happens when Ballet goes wrong.
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Voiceover by Carl Mason: firstname.lastname@example.org
Number 8 Emma Livry
On November 15, 1862, the 20-year-old was rehearsing for a show in which she played the title role. During her second-act entrance, Livry shook out her skirts, which caught fire on a gaslight. She burst into flames, clasping the burning material to her torso, out of modesty. Livry ran across the stage three times before other dancers and firemen extinguished the flames that had engulfed her body. The doctors in attendance examined her and found that pieces of her costume had melted into her flesh.
Number 7 Anna Pavlova
Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova is one of the best-known figures in ballet history. The ‘Dying Swan’ role, created alongside choreographer Mikhail Fokine, has inspired ballerinas for decades. Pavlova danced with the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Ballets Russes before she formed her own ballet company. She became the first ballerina to take ballet around the world, touring in the United States, India, Australia and South America. Pavlova developed pneumonia while touring the Netherlands and her doctors told her that she would need surgery. They also told her the operation meant she would never dance again.
Number 6 Alexander Money-Kyrle
In 1998, Alexander Money-Kyrle died during rehearsal for a production of Romeo and Juliet with the Dutch National Ballet, in Amsterdam. The 35-year-old had tried to rescue the production’s director, who’d fallen off stage after mistaking the dark safety netting for part of it. The director landed in the orchestra pit and Money-Kyrle rushed to his aid, falling head first from several feet. He died from his injuries in the hospital, two days later.
Number 5 Ageism and Sexism
The career of a ballet dancer is quite short. Most of them begin dancing professionally when they’re 19 and transition to a different career by their mid-30s.
Number 4 Stress
Training in ballet comes with a great degree of perfectionism. Ballet dancers are under constant expectations to conform to highly exigent standards. Competition in their trade is fierce and the positions in prestigious companies are limited. Those selected for the principal role in a production know that many others would consider themselves very fortunate to be in that same position. It isn’t uncommon for them to fear that they’re going to be replaced. That’s why many perform even if their health is in jeopardy. They weather through the grueling pain caused by their injuries, without ever showing it.
Number 3 Eating Disorders
For ballerinas, body image issues start early. Many ballet schools hold regular weigh-ins, which ballet dancers must take part in from a young age. Many dancers starve themselves in the days leading up to the weigh-ins and, even so, they’re often told they need to lose more weight. Because ballet is a visual expression and the dancers wear skin-tight clothes, they become extremely self-conscious about the way they look. In some circles, the body of the ballerina is viewed as the ideal body type but, in order to obtain it, dancers often push themselves to unhealthy limits. Some choose to follow drastic diets as well as smoke cigarettes and drink coffee to keep their weight down. The problem with this is that their bodies become frail, even though their craft requires a high level of strength and flexibility. A study revealed that ballet dancers are three times more likely to develop an eating disorder while another indicates that one in five dancers typically suffers from such a condition. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are statistically high among ballet dancers.
Number 2 Other Health Issues
Research suggests that ballet dancers suffer injuries to such an extent that their profession is comparable to that of athletes in contact sports.
Number 1 Ballerina Feet
The feet are perhaps the most commonly injured part of a ballerina’s body. This is because a lot of the movements they perform have to be executed ‘en pointe’. What this means is that their entire body weight is supported by the tips of their feet. Ballerinas wear special lightweight shoes, which offer little in the way of protection. The shoes and the demanding moves that have to be performed over and over again, eventually wreak havoc on the feet. Cuts, bruises, blisters and calluses are frequent occurrences. Nails break, grow inward or even fall off and the trauma can sometimes result in infections. It’s why some ballerinas opt to have their nails removed entirely.
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