Is Your Cell Phone Affecting Your Port de Bras?
Scrolling your feeds endlessly can have a serious impact on your posture and alignment. "Since 2008 or so, I've seen a lot of heads and shoulders hunched forward," says Kim Fielding, a former dancer who created a Pilates class specifically to counteract the effects of technology. "Some dancers will overcompensate for this, leading to splayed rib cages and too much curvature in the lower spine."
Medical pros are now calling this set of symptoms "tech neck" or "text neck," and they can ultimately lead to neck herniations, rotator cuff injuries, and even foot and ankle problems. Here's how to keep your tech from hurting your technique.
Your Own Devices
Fielding suggests thinking of your collar bone as a dowel rolling up and backwards to avoid a slumped, downward posture, without letting your rib cage splay open. "You can also hold your phone a foot in front of your face and use the opposite hand to text," Fielding says, "though sometimes people feel awkward doing that." If that's you, hold your phone in one hand instead, with your upper arm pulled in to your side to support the arm holding the phone. "This shifts the effort to your bicep, instead of your shoulders and neck," Fielding says.
When you're using a laptop at a desk or table, stack larger books underneath the computer until it's up closer to your eye level. This hack also works if you're spending computer time at a standing desk, though Fielding recommends a balance of standing and sitting time for maximum body benefits.
On the Mat
Foam rollers are a smartphone user's best friend. Spend some QT carefully rolling out your neck, upper and mid-back,
and sides (the area under your armpits) to soothe tech-related aches and tightness. "Notice where there's tension and think about how particular tech habits might be contributing to that discomfort," Fielding says. Classic cross-training, like Pilates and yoga, will also help open your chest and release your tensed-up shoulders and neck. Fielding notes that while rolling out and stretching can help, it's also vital to work on proper alignment and strengthen these areas.
Mindfulness is key when it comes to technology. It can be tempting to scroll through Instagram while stretching, but, according to Fielding, you're much better off simply focusing on the splits: "It's comfortable to distract yourself with your phone, but you need your hands free so you can properly support and align your neck and spine in the stretch." That goes for any stretch or exercise—you should focus completely on what you're doing.
And don't forget to take plenty of breaks from your screens! "It definitely helps to fix your phone posture, but also consider limiting your screen time," Fielding says.
A version of this story appeared in the November 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Technological Difficulties."
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
The 2018 Oscar noms are here. Which is fun and all; we'll never not get excited about a night of glitz and glamor and, when we're lucky, pretty great dancing. But we'd be a heck of a lot more excited if the Academy Awards included a Best Choreography category. And really—why don't they?
Maud Arnold is one of the busiest tap dancers on the planet. As a member of the Syncopated Ladies, Maud—along with her big sis and fellow tapper Chloé Arnold—is on constantly the road for performances, workshops, and master classes. For the average person, that kind of schedule could lead to a serious derailment of healthy habits. But Maud's far from average. Here's how the fit, fierce, flawless tap star stays stage-ready—no matter what time zone she finds herself in.
If you're in need of a piece that's both trendy and sophisticated, look no further than this Só Dança crop top. Featuring elegant long sleeves, a high neckline, and a delicate lace trim, it's both classic and contemporary—perfect for everything from that big audition to a long night in the studio. Enter below for your chance to win it!
Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.