Researchers in Fort Worth are studying the health of female ballet dancers – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Health

Unraveling the Complexities of Ballet Dancers’ Health: Balancing Dedication with Self-Care

The world of ballet is one that requires immense dedication and sometimes, sacrifices to reach the professional level. At the Performing Arts Medicine Clinic at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, researchers are studying how these sacrifices can affect a dancer’s health, specifically their bone health. Dr. Yein Lee, the Fellowship Director at UNT Health Science Center, has seen firsthand these issues in clinic from a sports medicine perspective.

Dr. Stephen Fung, a Performing Arts Medicine Fellow, was motivated by his personal experience as a Dancesport competitor to study why dancers experience stress injuries and fractures. His research focused on identifying risk factors and solutions to prevent these injuries in ballet dancers. He acknowledged the biological differences that can impact women’s health and highlighted the importance of addressing the aesthetics that young dancers are concerned about during their training.

Historically, female ballet dancers have faced pressure to be strong yet maintain a slender appearance. This pressure may lead to body image issues, eating disorders, and calorie restriction among dancers seeking a certain look. Bethany Bailey, a dance student and teacher at TCU, added her perspective to the discussion by emphasizing the prevalence of eating disorders in the dance community and promoting healthy mindsets and body images in dance departments.

Dr. Lee observed a cultural shift within the dance world towards prioritizing the health and well-being of dancers. The goal of their research is to create a self-assessment checklist for women ballet dancers to identify their risk factors and promote their overall health and enjoyment of dancing. Ultimately, this research aims to support dancers in staying healthy while pursuing their passion for ballet.

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