Day 18 of 84 Days of 84 Ribbons: Dancers’ Diets
In the late 1950’s, the period of Marta’s story in 84 Ribbons, dancers were on their own for everything that took place outside their rehearsals. That include their diet. It was simple: don’t gain or lose weight because the costume mistress didn’t want to adjust costumes. Many young women took weight issues to the extreme, eating only one meal a day, taking diet pills, smoking or using drugs to curb their appetite or whatever means they thought of to control their weight. They worked hard not necessarily smart to maintain their proper body image.
In today’s ballet companies time and energy is spent helping dancers find the diet that works for them. If you saw the TV reality program, Breaking Pointe, during 2012 and 2013 you observed just how much more modern era dancers eat and drink compared to the 1950’s. Dance magazine individual interviews with Jessica Daley, Christina Dooling and Meredith Webster are prime example of those changes.
Daley dances with the Koresh Dance Company. Her breakfast is usually toast and a banana with a high-powered smoothie before morning rehearsals. Lunch is also light: tuna or yogurt and nuts. Her big meal is after dancing: veggies, rice and a protein with an occasional indulgence of an entire bag of popcorn.
Dooling dances with the Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She nibbles dried fruit, juices and roasted nuts during rehearsals and snacks on water, grapes or melon to replenish liquids. Her evening meal mirrors Daley’s veggies, rice and a protein to refuel for the next day of dancing.
Webster dances with Alonzo King LINES Ballet and takes a different approach to eating. She eats small meals throughout the day: fruit, nuts and whole grains. She cooks organic food and eats a healthy midday snack three hours before performances than eats a hot meal after. Sometimes she settles for Pop Tarts if she’s overly tired after dancing.
As another example, some dancers are unable to eat after they dance. Their exhaustion precludes eating so they must find ways to eat and stay healthy throughout the careers.