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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. 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. 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.

Recognizing the unique biological differences between male and female ballet dancers, Dr. Fung emphasized the need to focus on women’s health issues in the dance community. Women in ballet are often pressured to maintain a delicate balance between strength and aesthetics, leading some to develop harmful attitudes towards food and body image.

Although not all dancers experience eating disorders, the prevalence of such issues has prompted dance departments like TCU to address these mentalities. Bethany Bailey, a dance student at TCU and ballet teacher, emphasized the importance of promoting a healthy and positive approach to dance.

Dr. Lee highlighted the positive shift in culture within the dance community towards prioritizing health and wellness. One of the 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.

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