The Mirror in Dance- The Body Image and the Reflected Image

May 14, 2020

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By Emma Bachtel

Mirrors are something I’ve done a lot of reflection (hehe) on since quarantine started. As a dancer, I spend many hours a day in the studio staring at myself in a mirror. This is something all dancers experience from the moment they take their first class. I’ve realized that since studios have shut down I’ve been spending far less time looking at myself in the mirror and feel much better about my body. This realization is what has inspired me to write this piece, which will hopefully shed some light on this issue.

Impossible Standards

As if standing in front of a mirror judging yourself all day wasn’t enough, the dance world also puts an an enormous amount of pressure on students to look a certain way. There is a very specific body type required, especially for ballet dancers, and it can often be difficult to succeed professionally if you don’t have it. This is no different than how you are expected to be tall to play in the NBA, or have a sturdy build to be a linebacker in the NFL. However, just because body typing has become socially normalized, that doesn’t make it right.

At the end of the day, I’ve decided that I will not hate or harm my body in order to fit an image that someone else has established. I will love my body and work hard to make it the very best it can be, not try to look like someone else. Being a dancer is not just about looking good hitting that pose, it’s about the movement. Even though I may not have the longest legs, their muscularity is what allows me to move the way I do, and I love how I move. For that reason, I will never wish to have someone else’s body or strive to make mine something it is not. I will focus each day on how to make myself the healthiest and happiest dancer I can be 🙂

Read this post and other great thoughts on ballet and dance on Emma’s blog here.