Here is my memory of what I read some time back in an advice book written to young ballet dancers who wish to make ballet a career. In a chapter called something like “Why we have to be thinner than other people” a summary of the first paragraph would be something like this.
Being on stage in the spotlight or in the corps is harder for ballet dancers than most other performers because of the nature of our costumes. Pink and/or white tights & costumes that are designed to show all. Every extra ounce & bulge shows. In order to be successful, it is necessary to stay on a diet at all times. Most professional dancers know the trick of taking an enema a few hours prior to a performance to define the body lines. Taking an enema is much more reliable than taking a laxative. In an emergency an enema bag can also be used as an ice pack.
This book was written after World War II long before anorexia was a plague in the ballet world. (perhaps was part of the cause of it?) I can’t tell you how many times in class I’ve heard the comment ‘my stomach is sticking out, but I didn’t have time to take care of it.’ Many large bottles of Evian water are common in dressing rooms. Everyone understands their primary use in not for drinking. The poorly paid people in the corps don’t get it for free & can’t afford to buy their own. I guess they make do with what is available for free.
There’s a theater in Dallas where the assistant stage manager has the Evian concession. He always leaves one bottle ‘complimentary’ in front of each mirror.
I wish I could find for sale one of the Evian conversion kits, that reduce the size of enema gear to a few ounces. A few catalogues are selling half of the kit, that is the carrying net/hanging net for the Evian bottle as hiking gear, calling it something like ‘water on a string’ or some such. The other half of the kit is the replacement for the bottle top that has a 2 meter length of tubing properly attached at one end & a ‘force fit’ for the nozzle at the other. They used to be available in France for a very small price. As with many things, I thought they were so readily available that I tossed the last one I had when it got a little worn out.
Most women in ballet are extremely modest although they perform in revealing costumes. So go figure! I generally hate to share a dressing room with most of them as they have to have ‘their space.’ They won’t share a mirror with anyone! The last time I was told my dressing space was to be ‘in with the dancers,’ I couldn’t even get in the door & dressed in the men’s dressing room as they welcomed me to a mirror. One very nice, very gay fellow led me to the men’s dressing room & announced as he walked me through the door – ‘the douche bags wouldn’t let her in!’