Guest post by Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D.
Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D. is affiliated with the University of Maryland. Hanna’s doctorate in anthropology at Columbia University focused on dance. She has been a dance critic and written many books and articles on dance published in numerous countries where she has given guest lectures and courses. This essay draws from her book Dancing for Health: Conquering and Preventing Stress. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2006, which explains the physical harm of prolonged stress. See www.judithhanna.com
Ballet dancers vary tremendously in terms of what motivates them as they progress through their careers. Here are some factors that affect their decision-making to participate in this artistic realm.
A passionate commitment, a calling, is inherent in classical ballet. Dancers study from the age of eight for 10 years before they might—just might—move in a way that is interesting and beautiful to watch. Few students reach a professional level. “As professionals we work 12 hours a day for six days a week. We inhabit an environment of order, routine, discipline, beauty and youth. Our obsessive preoccupation with physical perfection is the external result of a deep, silent, and very private spiritual commitment,” wrote Toni Bentley who danced with New York City Ballet, one of the world’s most prestigious dance organizations. Most professional ballet dancers forego college, although some companies now encourage dancers to take university courses in their free time while they are with the company.
You may read the full post here Ballet Dancers’ Motivations and Constraints