lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

May the Tap Gods be with You July 20, 2015

I went to college for dance. It was a great program that I had a lot of problems with. You were weighed in… a lot. And your weight affected everything from your ballet grade to your scholarship. I’ll let you think of that what you will.

Some of the professors really pushed the weight thing, some tried to stay in the back of it, but only one teacher really fought it.

He was a tap teacher and a really fantastic human being. Not only did he manage to inspire confidence and perfectionism all at the same time. He also genuinely cared about his students.

There was a legend about him at school. I can’t prove how true it is, but I do believe every piece of it.

There was a girl who had come to the school as a fantastic tapper, but she had natural hips and wasn’t built like a board. So the weigh-ins pushed her and pushed her until she became really badly anorexic. It had time for adjudication, and she went in to meet with the entire dance faculty.

The department head complimented her on how much her turns had improved, the girl said, “Yes, but I’m not eating.” (more…)

 

The Weight of the Legend April 15, 2015

And now for the grand conclusion of the sad tale of the department encouraged body dysmorphia!

For parts one, two, and three, please click the appropriate number.

As though it wasn’t bad enough to teach students who are going to owe student loans for the next ten years that their worth is based on their weight, the department also liked to ignore the problems it encouraged. Now, I understand that weight is important in dance. You have to be small to be lifted, and a certain look is generally more desirable to producers. But if you tell a dancer that weight equals worth in an extremely competitive atmosphere, you’re going to end up with eating disorders.

There was one girl who was an amazing tap dancer. She was truly gifted, but the department wanted to weigh her like she was a ballerina. She lost more and more weight, and eventually became truly anorexic. (more…)

 

The WP in Permanent Ink April 11, 2015

The Dance Major scale phobia saga continues…

Part One

Part Two

And now, Part Three:

After the first shock of seeing everyone being weighed my freshman year, I almost got used to the concept. Three times a semester, we’d all line up and hop onto the scale, hoping that the number wasn’t high enough to get our ballet grade docked or get kicked out of company.

I was fine with my weigh-ins during freshman year. I didn’t gain any weight and didn’t give enough of a shit to try and lose any weight to please the department.

Then when I was gone doing summer stock the summer after my freshman year, I got a letter in the mail. (more…)

 

Weighing the Scale April 8, 2015

After being accepted into the dance program of my dreams, I was thrilled! I had won the university lottery! I mean sure, I was a little concerned about the fact that they had put my weight on my acceptance letter (for part one of this blog series where that is explained please click here), but it was a great school.

When it finally came time to move into the freshman girls’ dorm, I was so excited! Yay college! I mean sure, the place had strict rules about male visitors. Only during business hours. Must be accompanied by the person who signed them in at all times. Had to leave ID at the desk and so on. Our dorm mother Mary was a scary trucker-esque lady with the ability to broadcast her voice into your room at two in the morning. And the windows couldn’t open. But hey, it was great!

Then classes started, and the first thing they did was line up the entire dance department and weigh each of us. (more…)

 

The Weight Problem April 6, 2015

When I went to audition for the college I attended, it was quite the ordeal. And not just because I had to fly cross-country all by myself or because I was auditioning for one of the best schools in the country. The school had arranged for me to stay with two dance majors while I auditioned. My mother and I baked cookies for the girls as a thank you. The looks on their faces should have been enough to warn me away. They looked at my cookies like I had brought demon spawn into their room. Then there was a little bit of moaning before they each took a bite of a cookie and shoved the rest on a high shelf out of sight and easy reach.

The next day was the audition. (more…)