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July 18, 1980

Cor de Ballet

JAMA. 1980;244(3):274. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310030050032

Lest, carried away by our imagination, we read into the title "The Heart of a Dancer"1 allusions to a great love affair in the life of a celebrated prima ballerina or a renowned male ballet star, the subtitle promptly reminds us that what it is all about is not romance but "the noninvasive cardiac evaluation of professional ballet dancers." This reminder may come as a bit of a jolt. We are accustomed to viewing dancers as artists in need of appreciation rather than as athletes in need of cardiac evaluation.

To assess the effect of ballet training on the heart, Cohen and associates1 compared some basic cardiovascular variables in 30 (15 women and 15 men) American Ballet Theatre dancers with those in 15 matched sedentary control subjects. On the basis of physical examination findings, echocardiography, phonocardiography, and ECGs, they established statistically significant differences. Male dancers, for instance, had