Why Are Ballet Dancers So Thin? (Explained)

When I first started dancing ballet years ago, I had a lot of questions—and I mean a lot of questions. I wanted to know about technique, combinations, classes, and so much more. But one thing I always kept coming back to, the one thing that I never really got a clear answer for, was why are ballet dancers so thin?

Why are ballet dancers so thin? It’s the same reason other athletes and people who participate in sports are thin. Ballet dancers are thin because of their training, what they eat, and how long they’ve been dancing.

But the truth is, as I learned, there is not just one simple answer to this question, but a variety of answers and reasons why ballet dancers are thin, ranging from the sport of ballet itself to the dancers’ daily lives and training schedules.

Why Are Ballet Dancers So Thin

What Makes and Keeps Ballet Dancers So Skinny?

Like other forms of exercise, ballet leads to a certain amount of weight loss and muscle gain that can change someone’s figure into a smaller, more thin version of what once was.

Ballerinas and ballet dancers who have been consistently dancing for a long time have a high chance of having a thin and slightly muscular appearance in the arms, legs, abdomen, and back, and often keep off weight better than those who do not participate in some kind of daily or weekly physical activity or exercise.

Like many other athletes in different sports, ballerinas and ballet dancers acquire toned and thin figures from constant and rigorous training, as well as consistent healthy eating that helps them do well at their chosen sport.

Some ballerinas and ballet dancers may, in fact, really just be “born like that,” with naturally thin figures that are perfect for dancing ballet, but often, there is a little more at play than just that.

Is It Normal to Be So Thin?

Though being abnormally skinny can be a sign of health issues, many ballerinas and ballet dancers have skinny appearances simply due to the sport they participate in, much like other athletes.

Think about people who play basketball or who jog daily. Most of them often have a thin frame, too, from exercising every day just like ballet dancers. 

Even those who have only been dancing ballet for a few short months or years may already notice a different, more thin appearance contrary to how they looked before they started dancing ballet.

Are All Ballet Dancers Naturally Thin?

It may come as a shock, but not all ballerinas and ballet dancers are naturally thin and skinny. Though some people are born with the “ideal” ballet body with long legs, a long neck, and a thin and toned body, many ballerinas and ballet dancers acquire their figures from dancing and training with ballet techniques over a long period of time. 

Many people, in fact, take ballet up as a way to work out and lose weight, or as a fun physical activity that will keep their bodies spry and healthy.

What Is It About Ballet Dance That Makes People So Thin?

Ballet is a rigorous sport which requires a lot from the human body and the mind. In serious professional settings, attending daily classes, rehearsing for upcoming performances, and working out on the side is the norm for most ballerinas and ballet dancers.

Rehearsals and dance classes can last anywhere from an hour or two to four hours long and can often total up to an entire day dancing and practicing in the studio.

Because of this, ballerinas and ballet dancers are required to keep their bodies in shape constantly and do not often take breaks from daily physical activity unless they are injured.

How Can Ballet Make People So Thin When It Looks So Easy?

The easy-breezy look of ballet is part of the talent of the ballet dancer. A big goal for many dancers is to make the most difficult steps look as easy as possible, but the easy-breezy appearance of a ballet performance is nothing more than an illusion.

Why Don’t Ballet Dancers Have Big Muscles, Like Other Athletes Do in Other Sports?

Ballet is a sport that strengthens and stretches very particular parts of the human body. Ballet dance often encourages the use and growth of certain small muscles on the legs, arms, shoulders, and abdomen, which are not immediately apparent, nor bulky to the untrained eye. 

Although you may not notice from your seat in the audience or your chair in the coffee shop as your local dancers come in from the studio next door, ballerinas and ballet dancers have a range of well-built muscles hidden throughout their bodies.

Do Ballet Dancers Have to Keep a Strict Diet?

Similar to the sometimes strict daily schedule many professional ballerinas and ballet dancers keep, some ballet dancers do also follow strict diets that help keep their bodies healthy and thin.

Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and watching what kinds of junk food they consume assists ballerinas and ballet dancers in maintaining the compact and healthy body they need to perform well in their sport.

Because of the complexities of ballet dance itself, ballerinas and ballet dancers need to have a healthy diet full of nutrients to keep their bodies in shape. Eating highly processed and unhealthy foods would be damaging to a ballet dancer’s body and, thus, most stick to healthy, fresh, unprocessed foods.

Are Ballet Dancers Thin Because They All Have Eating Disorders?

Contrary to popular belief, not all ballerinas and ballet dancers have anorexia or smoke cigarettes for breakfast.

Though eating disorders can be found running rampant in the ballet industry, many ballerinas and ballet dancers have a healthy relationship with food and partake in food as a part of their training and keeping their bodies healthy enough to perform.

Do Professional Ballet Dancers Have to Be a Certain Weight to Dance Ballet?

Ballet is most definitely a form of dance that lends itself well to the skinny person. Partnering, leaping, and pirouetting are all more easily done when the dancer is on the thinner side.

However, being thin or skinny is not a recruitment to dance ballet or be a ballet dancer.

Though some companies may prefer ballerinas and ballet dancers to maintain a certain figure, size, and appearance to dance with their companies, being skinny is not something ballet companies require of their dancers. Rather, being thin is a side effect of ballet dance itself, and comes from dancing a lot everyday.

Is Every Ballet Dancer Skinny?

It may come as a surprise, but not every ballerina or ballet dancer in the world is thin or skinny. Ballerinas and ballet dancers historically have ranged in size and, even today, ballerinas and ballet dancers who are on the larger side still dance ballet, amateurly and professionally.

Like other sports, ballet attracts all sorts of people and anyone, regardless of their size, can participate and enjoy themselves in ballet dance.

Do You Have To Be Thin To Dance Ballet Or Be a Ballet Dancer?

Though ballerinas and ballet dancers are often thin, it is not a requirement for dancers of ballet to be tall, skinny, thin, or have a specific appearance.

On the contrary, any person of any weight, height, or physical capability can dance ballet and be successful at it. Like other types of dance, there are a wide range of body types in ballet, and there is no weight requirement to be a ballet dancer or take your first ballet class. Ballet is for everyone and everybody.

Read more: