My friend has an eating disorder. I want to tell someone, but I'm afraid it will result in her having to take time off, or even quit. I don't want to ruin her life. What should I do? —Sarah

First, try not to think that you'll be ruining your friend's life. Quite the opposite—having an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia could ruin, or even end, her life if it's not treated. And the earlier she seeks treatment, the better her chances of recovery.

That said, before you tell anyone, you should approach her yourself—you probably don't know the full situation. Choose a private time to talk to her alone so that she feels more comfortable opening up. Let her know that you're worried about her, but be careful about how you phrase your language. According to Dawn Smith-Theodore, a certified eating disorder specialist and author of TuTu Thin: A Guide to Dancing Without an Eating Disorder (available at tututhin.com and Amazon), talk about your concerns from your own perspective. Use "I" statements ("I've noticed you're not yourself lately," "I'm concerned about you," "I want you to get help"). Avoid starting sentences with "you" ("You didn't eat lunch," "You were throwing up"), which sound accusatory. "That's immediately going to put her on the defensive," Smith-Theodore says, and make your friend less inclined to confide in you.


If she doesn't respond well to your concerns, then it's time to reach out to a trusted adult, such as a teacher or your friend's parents. (Ask your parents to accompany you if you feel overwhelmed.) Start by telling them what you've noticed, and ask if they've noticed similar behavior. Let them know how worried you are—hopefully that will urge them to take further action. Will your friend be upset with you for telling? Possibly. But having the bravery to intervene shows how much you care about her well-being, which is ultimately more important. You could quite literally help save her life.

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The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

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"She is a supreme dance actress with an innate ability to bring the audience into her world," says NBoC artistic director Karen Kain. "Nan has always brought such a calm confidence into the studio and has been a role model for so many dancers I will miss her generosity both inside the studio and out." We spoke with Yu as she prepared for her final week of performances. She opened up about her initial culture shock upon moving to Toronto, her thoughts on artistry and why she chose Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow as her final role.

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