When you’re a ballerina, you have to put up with a lot. From exhausting workouts to intense physical discipline, ballerinas are some of the strongest athletes out there and for good reason. But one thing they shouldn’t have to deal with is intense scrutiny on their physical appearance—from New York Times critics. But The Nutcracker performer, Jenifer Ringer who is cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy at the New York City Ballet, has had to face exactly that when dance critic Alastair Macaulay wrote that she “looked as if she’d eaten one sugarplum too many.”
Read on for details…
After Alastair Macaulay’s comment went public, the internet lit up in protest. So of course after hearing of the story, I searched for a picture of Jenifer Ringer out of curiosity expecting to see a picture of a very cherubic curvy ballerina. And to my surprise, I wasn’t even close. Jenifer Ringer is nowhere near being overweight, even when it comes to ballerina standards. I’m still trying to figure out where this extra weight is and if Alastair Macauley needs better glasses or if he has something personal against Jenifer Ringer.
Jenifer Ringer responded to the criticism on NBC’s Today Show and said that the critic’s comment initially hurt her feelings but makes it clear that emaciated ballerinas aren’t necessarily the ideal:
It’s a physical profession. We’re dancing all day long…. But if you’re too thin, you can’t do the job. That’s where people run into trouble. When I went through my eating disorders, I went through anorexia; when you’re weak, you can’t do the job, and you can’t perform it well. As a dancer, I do put myself out there to be criticized, and my body is part of my art form. At the same time, I’m not overweight. I do have, I guess, a more womanly body type than the stereotypical ballerina, but that’s one of the wonderful things about the New York City Ballet. We have every body type you can imagine. We have tall, we have petite, we have athletic, we have womanly, we have waif-like. We have every body type out there. They can all dance like crazy. They are all gorgeous, and I think dance should be more of a celebration of that — seeing these beautiful women with these different bodies all dancing to this gorgeous music, and that’s what should be celebrated.
Well said. With the popularity of movies like Black Swan, it’s a bit sick to think that ballerinas are supposed to look like a pile of bones so bravo for Jenifer Ringer’s public comment.
As if women don’t have enough to worry about, now extremely talented dancers have to take BS from dance critics that revel a little too much in pointing out others’ flaws.
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