Entertainment Theatre & Arts

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Eating disorders are exaggerated, ballet star claims

Published 21/06/2014 | 02:30

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Monica Loughman and Leanne Sexton pose at the National Concert Hall

IRELAND'S most accomplished prima ballerina Monica Loughman has dismissed the widespread belief that eating disorders are prevalent in the ballet world.

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Loughman, a former principal dancer with the Tchaikovsky Perm State Ballet, said it was both a "preconception and a misconception" that many ballerinas suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

"I'm not going to say a ballerina with an eating disorder is an urban myth but I do think it has been exaggerated," she told the Irish Independent.

"I've only encountered one girl with anorexia in my entire career. If you train eight hours a day you are going to have a lean physique. It's as simple as that."

Loughman, who featured as a coach on Channel 4's 'Big Ballet', compared ballerinas to long-distance runners.

"We're athletes, we train everyday," she said. "People never looked at Sonia O'Sullivan and thought 'she's got an eating disorder'. They thought 'there is an athlete in peak physical condition'.

"The whole issue of eating disorders in the ballet world has been blown out of proportion."

Loughman runs her own ballet company and prefers dancers to have "a bit of meat on their bones".

Monica Loughman Ballet will present Marius Petipa's 'Giselle', at the National Concert Hall next Saturday and Sunday (June 28 and 29).

Irish Independent

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