A New York Times critic accused the dancer in the Sugarplum Fairy role in a new "The Nutcracker" production of being fat and provoked a furore.
The row started when Alastair Macaulay, a high-profile ballet critic, wrote that New York City Ballet's principal dancer, Jenifer Ringer, had eaten too much to be the fairy in the popular Christmas season show.
Advertisement"Jenifer Ringer, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, looked as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many; and Jared Angle, as the Cavalier, seems to have been sampling half the Sweet realm," Macaulay commented.
The backlash was led on Monday by Ringer herself who appeared on NBC's "Today" program to declare: "I'm not overweight."
"I do have, I guess, a more womanly type than the stereotypical ballerina," she said.
Defenders took to the Internet, calling Macaulay out for picking on a dancer's shape in an art form notorious for its physical challenges and culture of eating disorders.
Donna Fish, a commentator on the Huffington Post, said Ringer was skinny by most people's standards and that women who saw her on television "were desperately searching for a sign of, well, her fat."
Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton weighed in, saying: "We thought reviewers were supposed to review the dancing, not someone's stomach."
But Macaulay is standing firm.
After his original comment two weeks ago, he wrote a follow-up describing "a certain brouhaha online, and a minor deluge of reader e-mails, in many cases obscene and abusive."
But he defended his position, saying that the shape of the human form is a vital part of ballet. Dancers "make their bodies subject to the most intense scrutiny."
He also complained that the outrage was one-sided in defense of Ringer, with no one apparently upset by his even tougher critique of the male dancer Angle -- or his panning of their dancing skills in general.
"Notably, the fuss has been about Ms Ringer's appearance. No one took issue with what might be considered a much more severe criticism, that the two danced 'without adult depth or complexity,'" Macaulay wrote.
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