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Abstract

The unique sense of self we have as human beings is colored by our relationship with our physical self, assumptions which we then take to help us understand the world around us. This paper explores this notion by comparing and contrasting ballerinas with the typical young, American female-and how the additional demands placed on the body of a ballet dancer lead not only to differing physiques, but different body ideals, lifestyles, and ultimately, different realities. Case studies in research in dance education, books on dance medicine, and magazine interviews and autobiographies of professional ballerinas both past and present, support that ballerinas have their own unique understanding of the human body in terms of aesthetic ideals, athleticism and nutrition, injury, and personal identity, proving that each one of us lives in our own reality.

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