The Dance World Is Like No Other, And The Unique Blend

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The dance world is like no other, and the unique blend of art and sport creates a specific breed of human. Joseph Mazo summarizes it well,
There is physical stress: speed, pain, the arbitrary acrobatics of their profession. There is emotional stress: the quest for perfection, the drive of ambition, the need to succeed here, in this theater, because no other arena of life exists. Meals are irregular, circles of friendship are limited, work is taxing (Mazo, 1974: 93).
Dancers are athletes who devote their life to the unenumerable demands of their directors, their peers, and their selves. A dancer possesses one priceless tool that determines their success—or failure—in the field, their body. A healthy, capable body equates to an income, the
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Part of a dancer’s quest for perfection, is the belief that they cannot be broken. A dancer will never want to admit that they are suffering—a sign of weakness. Refusing to admit defeat is one of the reasons dancers push through their pain.
This quarter, I polled my dance friends via text message if they would encourage or discourage their child from pursuing dance. I asked my friends who said they would encourage their children to dance for their reasoning. Their responses were about how they want their children to be high-achievers. The dance world is a place where only those who are driven, people-pleasing disciplined, Type-A personalities survive. Adherence to conventions surrounding the pursuit of perfection are rewarded with contracts and promotions.
Dancers have amazing work ethics—a dancer would not survive in the field without one; this “can’t stop, won’t stop” attitude can be unhealthy, especially when a dancer’s compliant mindset prevails. The studio has a distinct set of rules, and dancers learn these manners from the minute one steps foot into the studio. Dancers are taught verbally and through observation to always do as they are told. This leads to an ‘authoritarian’ teaching environment (McEwen, 2012). When a choreographer or teacher tells a dancer to jump, their response is “How high?” Dancers naturally have an “insatiable craving for approval” (Mazo, 1974) that often places the body at risk.
Building on the idea of dancers being compliant,

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