Ballerina's appear to live in a world distinct from the rest of the world. They create art with their dainty, impossibly small lines. They appear to fly across the stage in an unrealistic way, and cause an audience to gasp, jaw's opening in awe. Beyond the stage, the world of a ballerina is somewhat hidden. A professional ballerina spends a majority of her time rehearsing, spending hours upon hours in the studio working to achieve the perfection she so desires but deep down knows is impossible to reach. Many don't realize the darker world of being a ballerina, the pressure, the constant judgement, the harsh critique that one hears on the daily. When you enter the intense lifestyle of ballet, you begin to learn some of these secrets, one of which being the huge amount of smokers that make up this world.
Percentage of Professional Ballerina's that Smoke: 45%
Dancer Newark Star-Ledger said "I'd like to stop smoking, I have smoked for about 15 years. I was a dancer, and all dancers smoke, it's the most bizarre thing."
1) Dancers live in the moment. Ballet is a short career - most "die" their first death in their thirty's. Dedicating ones life so passionately to one thing that is only humanly possible to strive towards for a short period of time, proves that ballerina's care intensely about living in the moment and deriving pleasure from the now. Thinking about the damaging affects of smoking in the future becomes abstract to them.
2) Many ballerina's that I personally know believe that smoking aids to weight loss - something that is passionately sought for in the ballet world. Ballerina's are 7 times more likely to be anorexic than non-ballerinas. One needs - desires - stunning lines, and with beautiful lines classically comes skin and bones.
Ballerina's are 7 times more likely to become anorexic than non-ballerinas.
3) Escape. Long rehearsal hours, stress, ones entire self dedicated to one thing. Smoking becomes an escape for many - especially when it becomes a culture within a ballet school and everyone begins to join it.
4) To create beauty on stage, one must dance with intense passion and feelings, and one can't do this without real life experiences. Smoking, drugs, sex, they all become outlets for these stories that can be re-created on stage as the beautiful art that you watch from the audience.
5) The physical demands of ballet dancing are insane. Training is intense 12 hours a day, and ballerina's/ballerino's are badass fitness masters. They have muscles in places you don't even know exist. This eludes to the notion that they are so fit they can abuse their bodies on occasion - and many do.
Ballerina's don't smoke because they are bored, they do it because they need an escape, something outside of their rigorous routines. It's 2015 and everyone knows that smoking is detrimental to ones health, but so is manipulating your body to dance on bloch's and turn out for hours upon hours every day. To change the culture of smoking in the world of ballet, one must first delve into the deeper reasons of why they do what they do and the solution must be sensitive to the insanely passionate, detail orientated, ruthless desires of ballerinas.
In a world where your constantly being told that you aren't good enough, skinny enough, strong enough, beautiful enough, one faces the impossible challenge to learn to love their bodies and themselves despite the critique - and until this happens, and even if it does, smoking will remain present in the secret world of professional ballerinas.
What's your experience with smoking in the world of ballet? Did you realize it existed?