How to Take Care of Your Feet When You Aren't Dancing
Let's face it, no matter how many precautions you take in the dance studio each day, your feet are inevitably going to get trashed. Between pointe shoes, petit/grand allegro, and stretching beyond what is natural, those puppies take a genuine beating. All that impact may tempt you to ask, "Is there any hope for performers to avoid injuries at all?" As it turns out, yes! According to Dr. Bryan Hersh, DPM, of the Center for Pediatric Medicine in Chicago, IL, dancers can seriously reduce the likelihood of injury by taking care of their feet outside of the studio. Read on for his tips on how to keep your feet safe and strong.
1. Wear appropriate shoes.
Dr. Hersh, who's worked with performers from Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, recommends you wear shoes with supportive arches, a stable heel counter, and a wide toe box. Good tennis shoes are likely to have all of these things, and can help you keep your feet safe from needless, daily wear and tear.
"These shoes can get the pressure off of dancers feet the rest of the day, in a way that will make a huge difference for them," Hersh says.
If you have to wear high heels for any reason, try to wear platforms or wedges that aren't above two inches. Finally, limit how much you wear them by wearing tennis shoes to and from your destinations.
2. Talk to your podiatrist about orthotics.
Although orthotics can't be worn inside your dance shoes, Hersh says wearing orthotics outside of rehearsal can support a wide range of dance related feet problems in class.
"Whether dancers over pronate (flattened-out feet) or have a high cavus (high-arched feet), I give them orthotics to bring their feet back into a neutral position with the most support when they aren't dancing."
Talk with your doctor about whether or not orthotics would be appropriate for your feet and their particular ailments.
3. Do strengthening exercises.
According to Dr. Hersh, you should never discount the simple stretch and strengthening exercises most dancers are familiar with. Be consistent with them in order to keep the stability and strength in your feet that help prevent injuries. Here's a reminder of what some of those are:
Basic calf muscle stretch
Push against a wall with one leg bent forward and the other leg lengthened behind you with both heels completely on the floor.
Resistance band exercises
To work those small intrinsic foot muscles, wrap the band around your foot and pull back on the ends of the band with both arms so that your toes face the sky. Move through half point, full point, half point, and flex for multiple reps. Then move your ankle between a bevel and a sickle for multiple reps as you pull the band in the opposite direction of where your feet are working.
Place a towel on the floor in front of you, and use your toes to repeatedly crunch and grip it toward you. Continue doing this until the towel is entirely bunched. This exercise will be helpful in strengthening your big toe. This is important as it bears much of your weight as you perform.
4. Talk to your doctors immediately after the onset of pain.
Because dance is such a competitive field, fear of falling behind due to injury can tempt some performers to dance at times when it's dangerous for the health of their bodies. Dr. Hersh warns against this practice, and encourages dancers to be forthright with their doctors, teachers, and parents about any pain they experience.
"Soreness is normal, but pain is not," Hersh says. "You should not be afraid to tell someone, and get your injuries treated appropriately before they become a bigger problem."
Patients often come to Hersh months after the initial pain is experienced. Much of the time, the injury would have been less severe and easier to treat had the dancer expressed their concerns earlier on.
Taking care of your feet outside of the classroom can make a big difference in your longevity as a performer. Be kind to your body, and take this advice from Dr. Hersh.
Turkey is great and all, but the best part of Thanksgiving? It's watching some truly fantastic dancing on television, courtesy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. On Thursday, when your arms are sore from mashing potatoes and/or you need to escape crazy Aunt Linda, head to the living room to catch these super-dancey parade highlights:
Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers
P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.
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Oh hey there, Hallmark Channel! The producer of all those sweet, homey movies best watched in your PJs with your mom has a super dance-y film on its holiday lineup this season: A Nutcracker Christmas. And the casting is—to use a very Hallmark-y pun—perfectly on pointe.
A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.
Yes, it's a whole lot of plot to wrap your head around. But the real story here is that Sadie is played by none other than the phenomenal Sophia Lucia, and the ever-dashing Sascha Radetsky is also involved in the project. (Radetsky's exact role is unclear from the press material, but he seems like a pretty natural fit for Mark, no?) The odds seem good that we'll get the gift of some very high-quality dancing. Merry Christmas to us!
Sophia Lucia showing off those banana feet (via @sophialucia5678)
You can catch A Nutcracker Christmas on December 10 at 8 pm. Get your slippers and hot cocoa ready.
After 13 seasons, "So You Think You Can Dance" viewers probably thought they'd seen it all. From "Ramalama (Bang Bang)" to Bollywood, Travis Wall to tWitch, it seemed like there couldn't possibly be any room left on Mary Murphy's Hot Tamale Train.
Then came 19-year-old Lex Ishimoto. When Lex showed up at the show's Season 14 NYC auditions with an improv solo in lieu of a choreographed routine, the judges were shocked—and then brought to their feet by his show-stopping creativity. From there, the jaw-dropping moments kept coming. In week one of the live shows, Lex busted out a super-crisp tap (!) routine. In his Episode 12 solo, he pulled off a triple (!) tour en l'air. And in Episode 14, he and fellow finalist Taylor Sieve revealed that they'd been dating on the down-low (!!!).
To dance insiders, Lex's name isn't new: It first popped up in playbills when he joined the national tour of the musical Billy Elliot at age 11. Last year, he was featured in Sia's "The Greatest" music video, and he's toured with Travis Wall's critically acclaimed contemporary company Shaping Sound. But now, Lex is officially a household name as America's Favorite Dancer—and has a first-class ticket on that Hot Tamale Train.
We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.
New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).
One of the most beautiful things social media has brought us is the ability to feel like we're up close and personal behind-the-scenes with all our favorite dancers. And one of our favorite stars to Insta-stalk are actually two casts of 36 scintillatingly synchronized precision dancers. I'm talking, of course, about my mild obsession with the legendary Radio City Rockettes.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.