Mental Illness in the dance industry

This is a rational concern for students who don’t have natural ‘dance bodies’. Making dancers beat themselves up about their appearance and weight . This is where there are very real dangers of eating disorders within the dance industry.

Mental illnesses in dance is usually known to be one of the best remedies due to how dance improves your heart health, overall muscle strength, balance and coordination, and reduces depression. Dancing also bolsters physical and mental health by helping to prevent falls, improve posture and flexibility, lift mood and ease anxiety. It's also a fun activity that sharpens the mind, increases aerobic power and strength, builds social bonds, and can reduce pain and stiffness. However all talks with mental illnesses and dance aren't always so positive.

Many young dancers struggle with eating disorders due to needing to have the perfect 'dancer body' or wishing to be as ‘good’ as someone else in their class. In a dance class a mirror is almost a dancers bestfriend needing to get everything right in a phrase of a dance where it has to be in the right order; how the dance is perceived to the audience; what you look like in front of your fellow peers or even the fear of getting told off by your teacher yet a mirror is also their biggest enemy. These are small things that build up just by looking at themselves in pink tights and leotards. It's not surprising how many dancers end up with eating disorders. They are put under so much pressure to be perfect for a performance or even just to get into their dream dance school that some or many dancers feel permanently damaged in the long term of the stress and worry to be so perfect but by this some get put off by the idea of dancing. This causes a lot of young dancers to believe that they're fat even if they're an average weight where many people who aren't within the dance world would think as being normal and healthy. They feel this way due to the industries obsession of thinness and the ideal dancer body which for some could possibly be impossible to achieve like the right size feet that point and are strong enough, the right height and so many more things which no one can control because everyone is born is their own way which makes everyone so unique. Dancers are frequently reminded if they don't have these qualities and again some even drop out of their dream aspirations because right now they might not be right for it but then would just rather give up. This can make them getting severly depressed or being diagnosed with anxiety and no future to look forward to. 

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Emma Collins

Emma Collins

Mental health Issues in the Dance Industry


  • Elle Farrell-Kingsley

    On 31 March 2021, 17:40 Elle Farrell-Kingsley Kickstart Team commented:

    Really powerful article, Emma. I've seen it amongst my dance class and fellow dancers frequently. It's a sad, often stigmatised topic. Well done for covering it!

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