News: Channel 4's new series 'Big Ballet' in a bid to overcome sizeism

Friday 31 January 2014 by Deborah Jones

Big Ballet, a new Channel 4 documentary, aims to provide a positive experience for 18 amateur, plus-sized dancers, many of whom were told they were too fat to dance when they were young.

Following the highs and lows of the reality TV format, former Royal Ballet principal Wayne Sleep and artistic director Monica Loughman, have just 20 weekends to teach their dancers Swan Lake.
As Sleep explains to the Telegraph’s Hannah Furness,

“What I’m trying to prove is that just because you’re big in weight or width doesn’t mean you can’t dance. “Why should these girls be told at the age of nine to give up and get out, with people saying they’ll never make it? To deny a child their aspirations is criminal. Who are these bullies to say they shouldn’t dance?”
Read more in the Telegraph 28 January 2014

It is a programme that will no doubt stir up further opinions on female bodies and self image in general.

For the Independent Holly Williams talks to choreographer Derek Deane, ex- ballerina Deborah Bull and others about the programme…

“If you train as hard as a dancer trains every day you’ll never be fat… but yes, there absolutely is an aesthetic ideal,” says Lyndsey Winship, dance critic from the Evening Standard“The pressure to be thin, she concurs, is definitely there… “As a dance-lover and a feminist, I do wrestle with the fact that ballet is an art form with a very prescribed, idealised image of how a woman (and man) should look.”
Read more in the Independent 26 January 2014

Big Ballet – Channel 4
Ist Episode airs 6 February 2014 – 9pm

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