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Gregory Alan Williams
Dancing is truly considered the nicest art of self expression, aside from music, theater, and painting. But those disciplines cannot rival what dancers often painstakingly do for their art. This movie portrays what happens when intensity goes too far.
18-year old Alyssa Lennox (Kimberly McCullough) was accepted into the Metropolitan Ballet Company in New York City, and moves into the dormatories. The letter she received upon her acceptance says explicitly that they recommended she lose 5 pounds. For the already-skinny Alyssa, losing the weight is no problem--until it becomes addictive. Her weight plummets, and the word anorexia is thrown in her face.
This is truly a disturbing story of pushing yourself to the limit. I was a dancer for fourteen years at local dance schools (from 1987 to 2001, from age 4 to age 18), and studied Ballet and Jazz. I never made it to an advanced level, but I noticed that many of the girls who did pushed themselves hard, but I'm not sure if any of them dieted. They all looked seemingly okay to me, although several of them liked excess (drinking and smoking), and this was in high school. But, I noticed in the one college dance class I took, the girls were skinnier and more intense. I heard stories of asprin addiction. The fact that these girls did not have much free time scared me away from dancing again, besides the teacher who turned me off from it. I'm a Communications major for that reason.
I'm not saying I'm built like a dancer (I'm 5'4", about 125-130 lbs., built slimly but have wider hips than most dancers), but I loved dancing and never would have done what Alyssa did to lose the weight. When my weight hit 135 lbs. two years ago, I worked out and danced and ate right, and my weight dropped SAFELY to 125 lbs. The idea that stuff like this can go on behind closed doors is what truly gauls me. It's hard enough to succeed in dance--it's another thing to pressure someone to lose weight so they'll be perfect. And it wasn't even the parents (thankfully) that did it, but it still disturbs me that a prestigious school would pressure their dancers. Obviously, their skill got them there, and if their weight was never a problem, then leave them along. Some of the most graceful dancers I've seen were slightly overweight.
The acting in this film was good, and I was shocked to see that Rick Springfield, Mr. "Jessie's Girl" himself was playing Alyssa's father. Kimberly McCullough turned in a stellar, solid performance as Alyssa, but seriously, give the girl some food--PLEASE!!!! The mother in the movie was much like my mom when I was dancing--protective but not overbearing. She was a great "stage mom," but didn't push me to be perfect. Because of that, I think I know why I enjoyed dancing so much when I was learning it, and actually was pretty good.
This is a good movie to see if you dance, because it shows what no one should EVER have to go through to be a perfect dancer. Perfection is learning the steps--NOT dieting yourself into emaciation. I think dancers--especially college dancers--should see this movie--it might teach a valuable lesson in how fall you should go when persuing what you love.
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