Dancers strive for physical perfection

By Maddy Baxter

Aside from the physical strains that dancing can have on one’s body, the emotional pressures can take an equally effective toll. Such pressures include competition, stress, weight and the desire to be perfect.

“It is good pressure. A lot of it comes from myself,” Rachel Schwartz ’13 said.

The pressure to remain a certain size is felt by many dancers who desire to look more visually appealing. “Part of being a dancer is that your body is your instrument. It is all about how you look and making sure that you can make the best lines with your body is really important,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz has been dancing ballet since she was three years old. Currently, she is in Advanced Dance I at school and performs at the Westside Academy of Dance.

“I like performing. It is this weird out of body experience that lets you explore the artistry instead of just the technique,” Schwartz said.

Over the past summer, Schwartz attended the San Francisco Ballet Summer Intensive, in which incredibly talented people constantly surrounded her. According to Schwartz, there is a lot of pressure to do well because dance is such a competitive world. The teachers can tell how serious a student is and depending on what they see they will push that student harder. However, amongst peers, “we all understand and talk about it comfortably,” Schwartz said.

As far as perfection goes, Schwartz definitely feels the pressure to be perfect. “But where isn’t there that pressure?” Schwartz said. “I am definitely a perfectionist by nature and that may be one of the reasons I like dance because you can always be better.”

Hallie Brookman ’12 has been on a competition dance team since age eight, dancing contemporary, jazz and ballet. She dances at the Brentwood Academy of Dance and Westside School of Ballet, participating in about five to six competitions a year.

Brookman often feels the pressures to please the teacher or choreographer.

“One of the worst feelings is feeling like I’ve disappointed my teacher,” Brookman said.

Dancing is visual and is all about one’s body. Although no teacher has ever put pressure on Brookman to look a certain way, she finds it hard not to think about it.

“After spending endless hours in front of a mirror wearing either a leotard or tights, it’s hard to not critique my own body image,” Brookman said. However, no matter if Brookman feels self–conscious, she does not go to any extremes to look a certain way.

“There is nothing like the feeling I get when I dance. It’s my form of self expression,” Brookman said. Similar to Schwartz, Brookman admitted to being a perfectionist, constantly striving for improvement. The pressure to be perfect is all put on myself, Brookman said.