I am SO incredibly thankful that reviewers don’t comment on orchestra members’ bodies when we are up there on the stage — or down in the pit (but can they really see us there anyway?) — doing our thing.

Dancers? That’s another story … or at least it was with one reviewer:
Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she’d eaten one sugar plum too many; and Jared Angle, as the Cavalier, seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm.

(Read here.)

He was criticized, so he has also defended his position. The woman dancer, Jennifer Ringer, who was accused of having “one sugar plum too many” has responded as well.

And does the “rest of the story” — the fact that Ringer has been open about her eating disorders — make one pause when commenting about things like this, or should the reviewer not concern himself with that?

Me? I have never eaten a sugar plum. Not even one. But you can bet I look as if I’ve eaten far too many. Sigh.

So what think ye? Does a dance reviewer have the “right” to comment on bodies? Hmmm. I wonder if they’ve ever commented on the ones who look like they could drop dead any minute, they are so skinny. (We had one, years ago, who was simply frightening. Turned out the audience agreed: the next day the office received a multitude of calls saying, “Why are you allowing someone like that on stage?” It was fairly clear the woman had an eating disorder and it really was tough to watch her dance. She has since left the company. I hope she is healthier now.)

Dancers are in such a different world than we musicians. I can’t even imagine! I am guessing they are obsessed with body image. They see themselves in the mirror constantly! (I rarely look at myself in a mirror. Really.) They wear clothes that reveal all. (I wear nice, loose fitting black.) And yet when I get to the hall for a ballet performance there so many are (especially the guys), smoking away. Body image and health are two very different things.

I’m thankful to be in black. On stage. Judged by my performance and not my body. Whew!

Side note: when an instrumentalist solos reviewers do on occasion, feel the need to comment on what is worn. Especially if a woman is the soloist. But I’m not a soloist — whew! — and you can pretty much bet I’ll be in black when I am on stage or pit.

4 Comments

  1. I do think it’s true that ballet dancers aren’t supposed to be fat, they’re making art with their bodies, and it would just look different if they were fat. It would also make a lot of the movements extremely complicated I guess.
    Thing is, I’ve never seen a fat professional ballet dancer. Jenifer isn’t fat at all, she’s skinny… So while he’s probably doing his job commenting on her being perhaps ‘fatter’ than average ballet dancers, commenting on her body as if it were a piece of art, it isn’t really neceasarry.. Ballet dancers are usually skinny, but they could be normal people, it would still look good.

    And for musician’s it doesn’t really matter I think. We make art as sound, not to look at. A lot of fat might make breathing difficult, but that’s only when it’s a lot. Maybe it even helps with some instrument? A lot of people on the bigger brass instruments are heavier, even though that’s just my observation.

  2. I can’t even put the word “fat” next to a ballet dancer. (But I never use the word “fat” … it just sounds like such a painfully ugly word to me for some reason.) Even one who isn’t skinny is never that large! I watched the video of the dancer he mentions and she doesn’t look at all overweight. Perhaps he is bothered because she actually has breasts? Sigh. The dancer in question even says that her body is part of her art. There is no denying that for dancers! I just think the reviewer was amazing for suggesting she looked heavy.

    And yep, our weight isn’t an issue with our job, thankfully. I do wonder about those players who are so large they are horrendously obese, though … I saw one on a video and couldn’t imagine how he could play he was so darn huge. (He looked as if he needed two chairs, really!)

  3. Well, maybe it’s a good or bad thing that there ARE reviewers who comment on the too-skinny ones as well. One critic (for the life of me, I can’t remember who it was and which dancer he/she was referring to) even said about a dancer, shame on her mother (inferring that she didn’t raise her daughter right or something ridiculous like that) and mentioning how thin she looked onstage.

    It’s hard – ballet is a visual art, and for me, weight only matters if it disrupts the body line, or the fluidity of movement, or if movements start to look like effort. More than body type, it’s way more interesting to me to see how dancers MOVE, rather than what they look like. Perhaps the two tie together. I also think it’s a generation thing – that critic is older than me, and back in his day, he’s probably used to seeing thinner dancers rather than the more athletic, healthier bodies onstage now.

    I was so impressed with her response to the critic; clearly she knows her profession well, and has a good head on her shoulders.

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/40639920/ns/today-today_people/

    Oh, and there *are* busty women in ballet! 🙂

  4. Oh interesting, Jolene … it’s always the mother’s fault, eh? Hmmm.

    Ballet is definitely visual, and I certainly can’t imagine seeing someone up there looking like, for instance, ME! Far too heavy for dance, yet most people would say I’m sort of “average”. Dancers are far from average build. I have noticed that our company down here has changed from what it was first like; the girls used to ALL be skinny breastless things. These days some are a bit more round (but still thin as can be, mind you). They just look healthier to me, to be honest. I’m glad for that!

    I, too, thought the dancer’s response was admirable. She’s one smart person!