[中][ENG]如何成為一個健康的舞者:身體形象篇

The making of a healthy dancer – Body image

舞動潛能

Optimizing Dancers’ Performance


照片由香港演藝學院舞蹈學院提供 Photo provided by The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts School of Dance


文﹕余曉彤

翻譯:Stella Tsang


任何曾踏足舞蹈業界的舞者,對箇中為求卓越、在所不惜的無止境追求,相信深感共鳴。無論是在舞台華燈下旋轉,在空曠的水泥地上與舞伴即興共舞,在舞蹈室內練習不同的組合,舞者貌似不費吹灰之力的舞步,背後往往講求能否將優雅、美感、力量與靈巧度,拿捏得恰到好處。要做到這一點卻絕非易事,舞蹈訓練過程艱苦、苛刻,學生要成為專業舞者,必先克服重重障礙。舞者須接受嚴格的訓練及作出種種犧牲,難度之高,對他們的身體和心理狀態均是考驗。


這篇文章是系列的首篇,系列旨在關注那些正在學習跳舞的青少年,探討有關他們身心健康的各種重要議題。年幼的業餘舞者踏入青少年時期前,一般會想是否應該更認真看待迄今為止僅當成是每周課外活動的舞蹈課。選擇認真跳舞的人,多數會參與專業的培訓計劃。這除了意味著舞蹈之於他們不再一樣,興趣可能變成未來職業;與此同時,他們亦正值另一個更加重大的轉變:青春期。女孩從8至13歲、男孩從9至14歲期間,會有明顯的生理和心理變化。隨著他們逐漸長大成人,青春期自然對他們的舞蹈訓練以及生活上的許多方面,都有著重大影響。


若輕率看待這個成長階段,或會造成惡劣後果。在這段時期裡負責指導年輕學生的人所作的決定和給予的建議,都將會影響學生的職業發展與長期健康狀況。本文會探討身體形象(body image)的問題,並分析若果這方面處理不當,會對舞者的表演和健康造成甚麼負面影響,以及若果未有本著學生身心健康為先,會帶來甚麼後果。總的來說,本文將為學生、老師或家長介紹一些有效措施,藉此解決這些問題。


根據美國心理學會,身體形象可被定義為「個人對自己身體的整體主觀印象,包括有何特徵,以及個人對這些特徵的態度」。研究指出,舞蹈作為治療方式的一種,可以提升個人的身體意象和自尊。但當舞蹈被視作專業活動(而非治療),得出的結果完全相反。正值青春期的女舞者,當被問到如何看待自己的個性和身體,問卷結果顯示,她們在「不理想」、個性「敏感」以及體形「不吸引」等項目上,分數高於同年齡的對照組(Bettle et al., 2001)。頂尖舞者更是極之在乎個人體重,而害怕失去工作(或他們所扮演的某個角色),更驅使他們經常過分在意自己的體形(Özgen & Kısaç, 2009)。


年輕女性患上飲食失調的主因,通常來自對身體形象有著負面或錯誤的認知。現今社會高度重視身材是否苗條、健美,並要求達到理想體形。舞蹈界的情況更加嚴重,像芭蕾舞及中國舞等古典舞所推崇的女性理想身形,往往超出正常標準。纖長的脖子、精巧的頭顱、過度伸展的長腿、靈活的腳踝,還有高弓足、平胸以及窄臀,只是要求的一小部分。其中有些特徵常見於尚未踏入青春期的兒童,但要在青春期間和發育後保持這些特徵,往往是項不可能的任務,導致年輕舞者經常因無法控制自己的身體變化而感到非常沮喪。而舞蹈界的權威(包括老師及藝術總監)執意要向公眾呈現那些刻板、苗條和近乎非人一般的體態,進一步加重年輕舞者對自己的壓力。背負如此期望,女舞者們為求達標,或會以病態手段(例如極度拉伸和飲食不規律)拼命對抗自然定律,意圖改變自己的體形。


同樣要指出的是,男舞者亦受以上問題影響。雖然情況沒那麼普遍,但他們也不時受到壓力,要鍛鍊出筆挺而健碩的身形。研究顯示年輕男性在自我認同方面,外表所佔的比重高達20%(Tager et al., 2006)。因此,有男舞者會依賴那些聲稱能增強體型魅力的產品,而當結果不似預期時,他們會隨之感到沮喪和失去自信。


在青春期間,不論青少年是否舞者,出現飲食失調的風險都會較高,但舞者的風險更為顯著。特別是那些較同齡人早發育的女孩,脂肪量或更易增長,或使她們面臨連串不良社會心理因素衝擊,例如會有負面的身體形象、飲食失調或自尊心低落。這情形在舞蹈學校等環境中更為嚴重,因為同儕之間會作強烈比較,以及體態上強調對瘦的追求,造就了充滿敵意的環境。另外,緊身的舞蹈服裝、長時間對著鏡子練習、高壓的競爭環境、對體形及舞蹈表現有著不切實際的期望,還有那些充斥在社交媒體上的刻板印象及理想形象,並長期熏染其中,這些均是年輕舞蹈學生面對的日常。這亦導致他們身處在專業舞蹈的培訓環境時,對身體會抱有更顯著的自我意識。


在這種背景下,年輕舞者經常尋求老師和父母指引,令這些權威人物對舞者的健康成長以及發展起著關鍵作用。因此,我們有必要問問自己可以做些甚麼,去改善以往的慣習,並對抗那極容易使人對身體形象出現負面認知的環境。以下是一些建議:


- 彈性的服裝規定


容許學生自行選擇課堂上穿著的服裝,尤其是在特別情況下,例如他們休息(或受傷)後回歸訓練時。嘗試鬆綁日常上課亦要學生穿著傳統緊身衣的規定。只要不妨礙學生安全舞動(如穿著過於寬鬆的衣服或會有麻煩),容許他們自由加穿單品,例如針織外套或半身裙。


- 減少使用鏡子


以簾幕遮掩鏡子,或乾脆背對著鏡、朝舞蹈室另一方向練習,以淡化鏡的作用。面對鏡雖有助於自我校正,但它們並非唯一的工具。與其完全依賴鏡像,倒不如嘗試教舞者集中注意力,感知身體的內部活動(本體感知)。


- 避免談及節食或評論體形


不要基於學生的體形去評論他們。老師不是營養師,不應該向學生提供節食或減重建議,也不應該批評他們的體重和飲食習慣。若發現學生的外貌或情緒出現劇烈變化,請私底下小心提出,並通知家長,必要時協助學生尋求專業人士幫助。體重較輕並不等於跳舞會更出色,若果舞者不健康地節食,減去的很可能是肌肉而非脂肪,導致表現不理想,以及由於能量不足和營養不良,增加受傷風險。


- 注意課堂上的言辭


根據舞蹈動作而非體形給予積極反饋或糾正建議。避免將學生與同儕比較,而是關注每個人的能力和進步。舞蹈室內應禁止老師、父母或同齡人批評學生的體形。


- 教育是關鍵


教育學生均衡營養的重要,以及青春期間自然發生的變化。對不同體型均持正面態度。因應各個成長階段、練習強度、食量和壓力,身體出現變化是很自然的事。若學生在受傷,或無法進行常規訓練後重新展開訓練,那麼復元期間體重有所增加,應被視作自然而必需的情況。一旦恢復訓練,身體就會逐漸適應。讓身體有時間休息和康復才是最重要,如果持續高強度的體力消耗而沒有充分休息(像運動賽事中的休季),或會導致受傷和倦怠。


- 鼓勵對身體形象持包容態度,及對身形的想像符合現實


作為青少年的榜樣,父母和老師應對身體形象持包容態度,積極說明食物與身體之間該維持著健康的關係。重視理念實踐,而非執著於對外表的固有看法。了解盲目追求無法實現的體形所帶來的潛在風險。


長遠來說,青少年舞者如何適應青春期間身體和身份的變化,會為他們的心理健康奠定基礎。作為教育工作者或父母,在這個關鍵階段,應該努力營造一個健康的環境,為正經歷青春期的舞者給予支持,幫助他們建立正面的身體形象,實現自己的夢想,讓他們在身體和心理上,有著最佳的表現。


參考文獻:

Bettle, N., Bettle, O., Neumärker, U., & Neumärker, K. J. (2001). Body image and self-esteem in adolescent ballet dancers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93(1), 297-309.

Özgen, L., & Kısaç, İ. (2009). Drive for thinness, bulimia and body dissatisfaction in Turkish ballet dancers and ballerinas. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 2218-2221.

Tager, D., Good, G. E., & Morrison, J. B. (2006). Our bodies, ourselves revisited: Male body image and psychological well-being. International Journal of Men’s Health, 5(3), 228-238.

延伸閱讀:

Oliver, W. (2008). Body image in the dance class. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 79(5), 18-41.

Mitchell, S. (2018). Psychological implications of puberty in dance. National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, 2(1), 1-8.

Daniels, E. A., Gillen, M. M., & Markey, C. H. (Eds.). (2018). Body positive: Understanding and improving body image in science and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

諮詢熱線:


香港青年協會「關心一線」 2777 8899

香港撒瑪利亞防止自殺會24小時情緒支援熱線 2389 2222

香港基督教女青年會「輔導熱線」 2711 6622


 

攝:Worldwide Dancer Project


The making of a healthy dancer – Body image


Text: Heidi Yu


Anyone who has experienced the professional dance world can attest how our profession often compels dancers to continuously strive for excellence at all costs. Whether on stage pirouetting under the spotlight, improvising on a concrete floor with a partner in an open space, or simply executing a combination and traveling across the studio, the apparent effortlessness of dancers and their movements often hides a complex balance of grace, beauty, strength and dexterity. Achieving that mastery, however, is far from simple. Dance training is a strenuous and demanding journey. Countless hurdles lie between students and their dreams of becoming professional dancers. The rigorous training and tough sacrifices dancers have to endure are highly challenging, both for their body and their mind.


This article aims to be the first of a series discussing different critical topics on health and wellbeing among adolescents in dance. Upon reaching their teens, young recreational dancers often have to face the decision of whether to take their hitherto weekly extracurricular activity more seriously. For those who decide to give it a try, a common path entails joining a pre-professional training programme. In addition to this change in their relationship to dance, seen now as a possible future career, these students experience, at the same time, a perhaps even greater change: puberty. During this process, which begins between the ages of eight to 13 years in girls and nine to 14 years in boys, drastic physical and psychological changes take place. Naturally, these have a significant impact on their dance training progress, as well as many other aspects of their life, as they develop and grow into adults.


Imprudent management of this developmental phase can have nefarious consequences. The decisions and advice of those responsible for guiding young students during this period can heavily impact their career advancement and long-term health condition. This article will focus on body image issues. It will analyze the negative effects that mishandling these can have on dancers’ performance and health, as well as the consequences of failing to prioritize students’ wellbeing. To conclude, some effective strategies (for students, teachers, or parents) to navigate these issues will be presented.


Body image can be defined as “the mental picture one forms of one’s body as a whole, including its physical characteristics and one’s attitudes toward these characteristics” (The American Psychological Association). Studies have shown that dance, when used as a form of therapy, can enhance body image and self-esteem. However, research studying dance as a professional activity (not as therapy) has shown completely opposite results. In responses to questionnaires looking at how they perceive their own personality and body, adolescent female dancers scored higher on “undesirability” and “sensitivity” (personality) and “unattractiveness” (body) than their age-matched controls (Bettle et al., 2001). Dancers at an elite level are extremely preoccupied with their weight, and fears of losing their job (or a particular role for which they have been cast) often drive them towards excessive concern about body image (Özgen & Kısaç, 2009).


Negative or erroneous perceptions of body image are particularly salient motives in the pathogenesis of eating disorders among young females. Looking slim and toned, conforming to an idealized body shape, are highly valued physical characteristics in our modern society. In the dance world this is exacerbated, as the ideal female body praised in classical dance styles like ballet and Chinese dance often includes bodily features far beyond common standards. A long neck, small head, hyperextended long legs, flexible ankles, high arches in the feet, small breasts, or overly narrow hips are just a few of these. While some of these characteristics may be more common in prepubescent children, maintaining them during and after puberty is very frequently an impossible mission, resulting in a high degree of frustration among young dancers who see their bodies transforming beyond their control. The fixation on stereotyped, slender, almost inhuman bodies openly displayed by authority figures (teachers, directors) within the dance industry can further increase the young dancer’s self-induced stress. Burdened with such expectations, female dancers might be drawn into pursuing these standards by pathological means (such as extreme stretching and disordered eating), in a desperate attempt to fight against natural development and modify their bodies at will.


It should also be noted that this problem, though less prevalent, also affects male dancers, who are often pressured to achieve a trim but muscular body. Previous research has shown that physical appearance counts for up to 20% of psychological self-acceptance among young men (Tager et al., 2006). As a result, there is a trend among male dancers to rely on products that promise to artificially enhance physical attractiveness, with the corresponding frustration and loss of self-esteem when the results are not as expected.


During puberty, although both dancer and non-dancer adolescents are at a high risk of developing eating disorders, for dancers this risk increases significantly. In particular, girls who mature ahead of their peers are more likely to experience larger gains in fat mass, potentially exposing them to a range of harmful psychosocial outcomes, such as negative body image, disordered eating, or low self-esteem. This situation is aggravated in contexts like dance studios, as the conspicuous peer comparison and the emphasis on being thin create a largely hostile environment. Revealing uniforms, long practice hours in front of a mirror, high pressure competitive environments, unrealistic expectations for physique and performance, and a massive exposure to stereotypes and ideal images in social media are the day to day situation young dance students face. This contributes to the presence of a heightened self-awareness of the body in vocational dance training settings.


Within this context, young dancers often look to their teachers and parents for guidance, making these authority figures crucial for the healthy growth and development of a dancer. Thus, it is necessary to ask ourselves what we can do to improve our practice and help combat an environment highly prone to creating dangerous negative body image perceptions. Below are some suggestions:


- Flexible rules for uniform

Allow students to choose their own clothing in class, especially at sensitive times such as the return to training after a break (or injury). Try to loosen the restrictions of the traditional tight leotard in daily classes. As long as it is safe to execute the movements (too baggy clothes may be problematic), grant students the freedom to add extra pieces, such as a cardigan or a skirt.


- Reduce the use of mirrors

Play down the use of mirrors by covering them with curtains, or simply facing the other side of the studio for practice. Mirrors are helpful for self-correction, but they should not be the only tool available. Instead of relying exclusively on their reflection, try to draw the dancers’ focus to sensing the movement from within the body (proprioceptive awareness).


- Avoid talk about diet or comments on body shape

Do not judge students by their physique. Teachers are not nutritionists, they should not offer dieting or weight loss advice to students, nor criticize their weight and eating habits. If drastic changes in a student’s physical appearance or mood are identified, mention these changes with care in a private conversation, inform the parents, and help the student to seek assistance from qualified professionals if necessary. A lower weight does not equate to a sharper performance, as the dancer will mostly likely lose muscle mass rather than fat through unhealthy dieting, resulting in unsatisfactory performance and a higher risk of injury due to energy deficit and poor nutrition.


- Be mindful about the language used in class

Offer positive feedback and corrective comments based on movement rather than body type. Avoid comparing students with their peers, focus instead on each individual’s abilities and progress. Criticism of a student’s body shape (from teachers, parents, or peers) should be forbidden in the studio.


- Education is key

Offer a holistic education where students can learn about the importance of good nutrition and the natural changes that occur during puberty. Maintain a positive attitude towards a variety of body types. Bodies are supposed to change, adapting to the different stages of growth, training load, food, and stress. If a student is returning from an injury or lockdown where regular training was not feasible, gaining some weight during the recovery period should be considered as what it is: a natural and necessary response. Once training resumes, the body will gradually adapt. It is essential to allow time for the body to rest and heal, being exposed to continuous high levels of physical workload without adequate rest (or off-season as it is referred to in sports) can lead to injuries and burnout.


- Encourage a flexible body image and realistic body expectations

As a role model for teenagers, parents and teachers should be flexible about body image, promoting and demonstrating a healthy relationship with food and the body. Engage in value-driven practice, rather than holding onto fixed beliefs regarding appearance. Understand the underlying risks of striving for unattainable body types.


How teenage dancers adapt to physical and social changes at puberty can lay the groundwork for their psychological wellbeing in the long run. As educators or parents, we should work towards cultivating a healthy environment, especially during this critical stage. Supporting dancers who are going through puberty, and assisting them to build a positive body image will help them succeed in their aspirations, and allow them to optimize their performance levels, both physically and psychologically.

照片由香港演藝學院舞蹈學院提供 Photo provided by The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts School of Dance


References:

Bettle, N., Bettle, O., Neumärker, U., & Neumärker, K. J. (2001). Body image and self-esteem in adolescent ballet dancers. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 93(1), 297-309.

Özgen, L., & Kısaç, İ. (2009). Drive for thinness, bulimia and body dissatisfaction in Turkish ballet dancers and ballerinas. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 2218-2221.

Tager, D., Good, G. E., & Morrison, J. B. (2006). Our bodies, ourselves revisited: Male body image and psychological well-being. International Journal of Men’s Health, 5(3), 228-238.


Recommended readings:

Oliver, W. (2008). Body image in the dance class. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 79(5), 18-41.

Mitchell, S. (2018). Psychological implications of puberty in dance. National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, 2(1), 1-8.

Daniels, E. A., Gillen, M. M., & Markey, C. H. (Eds.). (2018). Body positive: Understanding and improving body image in science and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Counselling Hotline Services:

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups "Youthline" 2777 8899

The Samaritan Befrienders HK Emotional Support Service 2389 2222

Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association Counselling Hotline 2711 6622

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余曉彤(MSc, MFA)

香港演藝學院講師(舞蹈科學)

余氏擁有豐富的芭蕾舞背景和經驗,近年將重心投放在舞蹈科學研究在舞蹈訓練中的應用和實踐,全方面關注舞者的身心健康,希望透過教育和知識普及,幫助舞者預防傷患並提升表現。

Heidi Yu (MSc, MFA)

Lecturer (Dance Science) at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

With an extensive background in ballet training and performance, she currently dedicates her enthusiasm to Dance Science research, advocating for its application to dance training and promoting a holistic approach for performance enhancement, injury prevention, and dancers' health and well-being.