Dance News

A Lesson on Injury Prevention at The School at Steps

School at Steps director Kate Thomas with NYCB principal dancer Sara Mearns (courtesy The School at Steps)

Taking time off to recover from a stress fracture or strain can be unbearable for a dancer. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to prevent that dreaded injury.

On Sunday, The School at Steps in NYC hosted the “Injury Prevention Workshop,” part of The Complete Dancer Series. Dance Spirit sponsored the event, and we were so excited to learn about taking care of our bodies from pros in the know.

The panel included clinical psychologist Linda Hamilton, pediatric orthopedic specialist Dr. Andrew Price, Dr. Marijeanne Liederbach of the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, Pilates instructor Robin Powell, physical therapist Rebecca Blanchard and, a special treat, Sara Mearns, principal dancer with New York City Ballet. That’s a whole lot of experts! And, boy, did they have a ton of useful information to dole out. Here’s just a taste of the helpful hints attendees were privy to:

1. Don’t dance to get in shape. Get in shape to dance. Improving your strength and stamina outside of the studio will improve your dancing in the long run.

Pilates instructor Robin Powell gives a demonstration with School at Steps dancers Maria Edmond, Grace Sautter, Liza Berg and Bridget Scanlon. (courtesy The School at Steps)

2. That signature ballerina duck-walk is actually bad for you! Give your turnout muscles a break by cross training in parallel.

3. The two biggest contributors to injury are faulty dance technique and bad posture (not just while you’re dancing, but while you’re standing and walking around). So listen to your mom when she tells you to stand up straight.

4. 85% of all injuries happen in a previously injured joint. Give that ankle sprain the time it needs to heal, or you may be rocking a boot again before you know it.

5. Do you feel like your dance schedule is wearing on your body? Say something! Sara Mearns didn’t, and she ended up with a bad back injury that took her away from dancing for eight months.

Want to know more about the most common injuries for dancers? Click here. 

Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!


Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'


Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.


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