Researchers in Fort Worth examine the health of female ballet dancers – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Ballet is a highly demanding art form that requires immense dedication and often entails sacrificing one’s health to reach professional levels. Researchers at the Performing Arts Medicine Clinic at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth are delving into why this sacrifice affects health, specifically bone health, among ballet dancers.

Dr. Stephen Fung, a former competitive Dancesport dancer and Performing Arts Medicine Fellow, has observed numerous stress injuries and fractures in ballet dancers, prompting him to investigate the underlying reasons behind these health problems. He noted that from a sports medicine perspective, health issues are common among dancers.

Recognizing the unique biological differences between male and female ballet dancers, Dr. Fung emphasized the need to focus on women’s health issues in the dance community. Women in ballet are often pressured to maintain a delicate balance between strength and aesthetics, leading some to develop harmful attitudes towards food and body image. This has led to an increase in eating disorders among female ballet dancers.

Although not all dancers experience eating disorders, the prevalence of such issues has prompted dance departments like TCU to address these mentalities. Bethany Bailey, a dance student at TCU and ballet teacher, emphasizes the importance of promoting a healthy and positive approach to dance. She believes that it is crucial for dancers to recognize their own bodies’ limitations and learn how to adapt their training accordingly without compromising their health or artistic goals.

Dr. Lee highlighted the positive shift in culture within the dance community towards prioritizing health and wellness. One of the research goals is to develop a self-assessment checklist for female ballet dancers to identify their risk factors and promote overall health and wellbeing, ensuring that dancers can continue doing what they love without compromising their health.

In conclusion, while ballet is undoubtedly an art form that demands dedication and hard work, it is essential for artists and researchers alike to recognize its potential impact on one’s health, especially bone density. By focusing on women’s unique needs within the dance community and promoting healthy approaches towards training, we can help ensure that future generations of ballerinas can continue pushing boundaries without sacrificing their well-being.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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