Saturday, 25 July 2009

Spot the annie

Frozen dancers at Luce
Originally uploaded by pearl_ady
I have blogged before on my troubled conscience in being a balletomane. This feeling came back in spades earlier this week when I purchased tickets to see "Ballet Under the Stars", two short ballets performed by local company Canadian Pacific Ballet. Economic times being what they are, this is a tiny company, in fact all of the costumes are designed by one of the danseurs. The technique, however, is good. A lot of the younger dancers had that smile-held-in-place-by-pins expression, but one of the leads had that air of control and calm that allowed me to just relax and watch her.

It wasn't long before my gaze drifted to the bone-white limbs of one of the other dancers. And I do mean bone. As she turned, I saw the sinews in her neck, and where her shoulders met her upper arm in a startling knob. Mentally, I gauged how my fingers could easily encircle her humerus, and I have really short fingers...

At the intermission, I stole over to greet someone from church who is, believe it or not, writing a Unitarian Latin mass with the aid of a composer who used to accompany the music activities at elder daughter's preschool. (Victoria's like that; everyone is separated by three degrees, rather than the more usual six.)

"What did you think?" I asked.
"Well," she sighed. "It doesn't take much to pick out the two "annies" in the company, does it?"

I had noticed the rather skinny limbs of another dancer as well. My acquaintance has apparently attended workshops with members of the company and has learned that two of the artists dance under a doctor's supervision, and that their reward for keeping above a certain weight is permission to perform. In the meantime, it is suggested, they have a community of support.

So, maybe you see my dilemma. In purchasing tickets, am I in fact supporting something that keeps these skeletal young women going, or am I part of the problem?

The second ballet was a truncated version of Midsummer Night's Dream. The hollow young woman I'd first noticed before the interval had the lead role of Titania with a flowing empire-waist shift that concealed the shadows beneath.

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