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

Ballet is a demanding art form that requires dedication and often involves sacrificing one’s health to reach professional levels. Researchers at the Performing Arts Medicine Clinic at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth are exploring why this sacrifice affects health, specifically bone health, among ballet dancers.

Dr. Stephen Fung, a former competitive Dancesport dancer and Performing Arts Medicine Fellow, observed numerous stress injuries and fractures in ballet dancers, prompting him to investigate the underlying reasons behind these health problems. He emphasized the need to focus on women’s health issues in the dance community, recognizing that women in ballet are often pressured to maintain a delicate balance between strength and aesthetics.

Dr. Yein Lee, the Director of the UNT Health Science Center Performing Arts Medicine Fellowship, noted that from a sports medicine perspective, health issues are common among dancers. She highlighted the positive shift in culture within the dance community towards prioritizing health and wellness. One of their research goals is to develop a self-assessment checklist for female ballet dancers to identify their risk factors and promote overall health and wellbeing, ensuring that dancers can continue doing what they love without compromising their health.

Bethany Bailey, a dance student at TCU and ballet teacher, emphasized the importance of promoting a healthy and positive approach to dance. She noted that although not all dancers experience eating disorders, the prevalence of such issues has prompted dance departments like TCU to address these mentalities. Dr. Fung also recognized this issue with male ballet dancers who are pressured to maintain an ideal physique leading them into developing unhealthy attitudes towards food and body image.

By Samantha Johnson

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