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

Beyond the Stage: Exploring the Health Implications of Dancers’ Pursuit of Perfection

Dancers often face great sacrifices to reach the professional level, but their dedication can come at a cost to their health, specifically their bone health. Researchers at UNT Health Science Center’s Performing Arts Medicine Clinic in Fort Worth are studying these sacrifices and their impact on dancers’ health.

Dr. Stephen Fung, a Performing Arts Medicine Fellow, was motivated to investigate why dancers experience stress injuries and fractures through his personal experience as a Dancesport competitor. He initiated a study to identify risk factors and solutions to prevent these injuries in ballet dancers, focusing specifically on women dancers due to the biological differences that can impact their health.

Historically, female ballet dancers have faced pressure to be strong yet maintain a slender appearance, which may lead to body image issues, eating disorders, and calorie restriction among young dancers seeking a certain look. Dr. Fung emphasizes the importance of addressing these aesthetics in dance departments and promoting a healthy mindset and body image for young dancers.

Bethany Bailey, a dance student and teacher at TCU, adds her perspective on the prevalence of eating disorders in the dance community and emphasizes the importance of promoting healthy habits in dance departments. Bailey shares her personal experience with ballet, which she has been involved in since childhood.

Dr. Yein Lee observes a cultural shift within the dance world towards prioritizing the health and well-being of dancers over aesthetics. 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 young dancers in staying healthy while pursuing their passion for ballet.

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