Thursday 17 March 2011

The Big Ballet

Gretel Hallet, came on our Chocolate Fairy Training in 2008 and is 1 day and 1/2 day workshops in Norwich. If you live in the area and would like to attend a Beyond Chocolate course, Gretel would love to hear from you! Meet Gretel.

Have you heard of or seen ‘The Big Ballet’? Apparently, it’s a ‘dance spectacle like no other’. All the way from the Ural Mountains in Russia comes a ballet troupe that is radically different to the ones we are used to seeing.

The type of ballet dancers we are used to seeing are often painfully thin. For example, in the film ‘The Black Swan’, which was based on the fictionalized life of ballet dancers, the stars weren’t actually ballet dancers, but had to look convincing for the film. For Mila Kunis, turning from an actress into a ballet dancer meant losing weight. She apparently lost 1 stone 6lbs and weighed in at just 6 stone 11 pounds by the time the filming ended. From what I can gather, Mila Kunis is around 5 feet 3 or 4 inches tall and the lowest recommended weight for a woman that height and that age with a small frame is 7 stone 13 pounds. According to the report I read, Mila Kunis said that she was starving for much of film shoot - and a trip to the catering table was not an option.

"I was on a five meal-a-day diet of 1,200 calories. I could eat anything that fit into the palm of my hand. That’s it," she’s quoted by Contactmusic as saying.

There’s no chance of this deprivation with the ladies of The Big Ballet. Each one of the 16 dancers in the troupe weigh no less than 17 stone and are united in one common cause – not to lose an inch! These ballet dancers proudly present their ‘voluptuous yet surprisingly flexible figures in an enchanting variety of different classical and modern ballet pieces’, according to one write up I saw. It went on, ‘these ladies will have you feeling envious of their larger figures after the first step!’ Well, that certainly would be a first in our skinny obsessed culture and I wish those ladies all the very best. My only concern would be if The Big Ballet was treated as a kind of ‘freak show’, but it seems this ballet troupe is taken as seriously as is possible, considering that they do draw attention to their own size and ‘send themselves up’ as part of their act.

They also (according to another write-up) ‘prove that grace elegance, charisma and nimbleness is not the demesne of the "thin”.’ In other words, this isn’t a freak show where people can gasp at the size of the dancers but a confident demonstration of how unnecessary it is to starve in order to dance ballet.

It led me to wonder how necessary it is to starve ourselves in order to do anything in life? If ballet dancers can weigh in at 17 stone and be flexible, graceful and nimble, why should we worry about our weight?

I know there will be some people who will respond that they find life difficult at a higher weight – I don’t deny that at all, my point is that it’s not necessarily a problem for everyone and a higher weight than we think we ‘should’ or ‘could’ be, shouldn’t stop us from doing things we want to do. Of course, if one of the things we want to do is to lose weight, we can still enjoy life while we are doing so.

Many ballet dancers suffer tremendous damage to their bodies, particularly their feet, during their career. It would be interesting to know whether this also applies to the ladies of ‘The Big Ballet’ and what they go on to do after their ballet career has ended. Whatever the future holds for them, it’s great to see them enjoying their present.


  1. I have heard it said that ballerinas were of a decent size before Anna Pavlova came along. She did her training and was pooh poohed by the other dancers who all said 'You'll get nowhere being that tiny size. Ballet dancers need to be bigger than you are.' She was chosen to be the Prima ballerina and all ballerinas have emulated her since.

  2. hi, my mum actually saw that very show recently and she just loved it, she was amazed at how agile they were and how confident, to her it was a real push for her to go ahead and do things she has been putting off because of her size,


  3. Great post Gretel. Having just returned from the US, the ladies I am most sad at are the ones who are 'stick thin', for maybe they are unware of the increased risks of liver and kidney damage, osteoporosis and infertility.

    I found it so interesting that a sports shop sold plus size sports wear but the largest bra they did was a 34DD and also that US medium size joggers from Sears are a tad snug for me!!! (er, I am a UK size 12)

  4. Thanks for your comments, ladies! How interesting that ballet dancers used to be larger until one influential one came along. I think the same thing has happened with models, they were more curvy until Twiggy set the fashion for stick insects! I'd love to see The Big Ballet and will keep an eye out for a show nearby.


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