A Dancer’s Image

Amanda - Waltham, Massachusetts
Entered on May 4, 2008

In the world of dance, it is important to fit the picture-perfect requirements in order to be accepted. Being short and overweight is unacceptable for most professional companies because it does not fit the stereotypical description of a dancer. How then is it fair for those who possess the same talent but are turned away for being a few inches too short or a couple pounds too heavy?

I believe that there is more to a person than their appearance.

Since I was four years old, dancing has been a huge part of my life. At my dance studio I was always the shortest in my class and it never once effected me negatively. There were girls of all shapes and sizes and no one was ever criticized for it. After having such an amazing experience at my dance studio, naturally when I entered college I wanted to be a part of the dance team.

When I heard about auditions for the dance team I was very eager and excited, so I attended the information meeting. I had all the faith in the world that I could make the team. However, my ideas of this team suddenly changed after hearing the coach say that we would be judged on the way our bodies looked, and were required to wear a stomach-bearing outfit to try out. I recall her mentioning that we had to “look good on the basketball court when performing”. This was the first time that I had ever encountered an issue with having to look a certain way in order to be accepted and I really took it to heart. There were only eleven people that showed up at tryouts the next day. I was not included in that eleven.

The harsh reality is that many dance instructors feel this way- that it is important to have the perfect body to appeal to an audience. Big companies, such as the Rockettes, require their dancers to be no shorter than 5’6” and no taller than 5”10. After fifteen years of dancing, I know that I have just as much talent as any of those other girls who make the team or the show. However, because my 5’1” imperfect body does not fit the description of a dancer, I must not be good enough.

Regardless of the way society pictures a true dancer, I refuse to let it bring me down. Although I will not be dancing at my college, I will continue to dance at my studio every summer. I know I have the talent, and I hope to one day put it to good use by teaching a dance class.

Even though I am happy with my body, I never regretted my decision to skip tryouts for the dance team. You see the way I look at it is, I didn’t miss out on anything- they did.