Leading Article: Not dancing can also be dangerous

Share
Related Topics
THE BALLET dancer's lot is not an enviable one. The level of fitness and physical flexibility required is daunting, even cruel. Gymnasts and figure skaters are subject to some of the same stresses, perhaps even more extreme in the case of gymnasts. But they are called on to perform for only a few minutes at a stretch. Ballet dancers are liable to be on (and off) stage for two to three hours if performing a three-act ballet. Their dancing careers average a mere 12 to 15 years after emerging from ballet school and the level of injuries, temporary and permanent, is high.

If life is tough at the best of times, it is even more taxing when on tour. Staying in cheapish hotels or digs in one alien and hostile- seeming city after another and performing on unyielding stages with inadequate backstage facilities is an experience to test the dedication of the most committed dancer.

All the foregoing may help to explain the decision of the English National Ballet company to call off its performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker suite on a cold Monday night in Manchester. There seems to be a dispute not just over the actual temperature that resulted in the cancellation, but over the agreed minimum. Whether the latter is 65F or 66F, many dancers believe it should be 70F (21C). The call-off was thus, to them, over more than one or two degrees.

The question the dancers must ask themselves is whether the degree of risk they ran from performing in a low temperature was serious enough to justify the damage done by the cancellation. In the performing arts the tradition that 'the show must go on', virtually regardless of the odds, is very strong. To scrub a performance after it was due to begin was to anger and disappoint many people who had themselves braved both cold and expense to take their seats, and to risk the company's reputation.

The dancers' reasoning was clear enough. They can go on stage only after warming up for 45 minutes or so. Muscles contract when cold. To become pliant and flexible, they must be expanded - and kept loose between bouts of exertion. If the temperature is too low, they will start to contract, thus greatly increasing the risk of damage. As the demands for them to become ever more gymnastic increase, dancers have become increasingly conscious of the dangers they run. However, since their fears are - however understandable - not widely understood, they should think hard before repeating Monday's pas de zero.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

I saw the immigration lies a mile off - and now nobody can deny it

Nigel Farage
The Uber app allows passengers to hail a taxi with a smartphone  

Who wouldn’t like a sharing economy? Well, me, for one

Mary Dejevsky
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game