In a normal year, this is the time you'd be gearing up for a busy dance summer. But with many intensives and conventions postponed or canceled due to COVID-19, you might be feeling disappointed. How can you take your dancing to the next level this summer when in-person training is on hold?
Enter the CLI Studios 2020 Dance Experience, a new virtual summer program running June 26–August 23. For $99, it offers more than 300 live streaming classes in a variety of styles and skill levels, plus over 300 additional recorded classes that you can take anytime. It can either supplement the digital classes your home studio is offering, or act as a standalone intensive. And with more than 100 world-class instructors from all corners of the dance world—including Mia Michaels, Tiler Peck, Brian Friedman, and tWitch—it's sure to help you reach your technical and artistic goals.
Mark Meismer (left) teaching a CLI class (Geo Santillan, courtesy CLI Studios)
JBlaze (center) teaching at CLI (Geo Santillan, courtesy CLI Studios)
Kathryn McCormick leads a CLI class (Geo Santillan, courtesy CLI Studios)
Despite all pandemic-related odds, you've more or less managed to keep up a dance training routine, whether it's via your home studio's Zoom schedule, Instagram Live classes, or Mark Kanemura's living room dance parties. Slow. Clap. That's a feat to be celebrated. But dancing in less-than-ideal environments—i.e., pretty much every at-home space—can take a real toll on the body, meaning lots of aches, pains, and at least a blister or two.
Here, we've rounded up all our best resources and expert connections for advice on what to include in your at-home dancer first aid kit, and how to handle (or even better, prevent) minor injuries that may come up while you're working hard from home.
Prevention: Modify and Moderate<p>First things first: Do everything you can to make your at-home training regimen as safe as possible. According to Dr. Lauren Borowski, a sports medicine specialist at NYU Langone's Orthopedic Hospital and a physician at Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, "This is a good time to check in with yourself and make sure you're working appropriately based on your own anatomy." Without the<a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/how-to-dance-outside-2646107293.html" target="_self"> safety of sprung floors</a> and the <a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/kick-your-mirror-gazing-habit-2645706487.html" target="_self">comfort of having a mirror</a> to check your alignment, bad habits like forcing your turnout or poor jump landings <a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/shin-splints-dancers-2326050478.html" target="_blank">can lead to injuries</a>. </p><p>Be willing to modify exercises when you're taking virtual class—it will benefit you in the long run. "Planning ahead as to what might come up in a class and how you can safely modify is so important right now," Borowski says. Simple modifications, like swapping one-legged relevés for petit allegro, practicing jumps in parallel instead of turned-out positions, or holding balances instead of doing full pirouettes can still activate important muscle groups while lowering your risk of injury. "This period of time is great practice to develop spatial awareness in general, because nobody in a crowded class or audition likes getting bumped into," Borowski says.</p>
Don't let aches and pains turn into something bigger. (Getty Images)
Treatment Tips<p>Whether it's a chance run-in with your dining room table or an old pain that starts aggravating you again, at-home injuries are bound to happen despite our best intentions. What should you do when they do?</p><p> Unsworth encourages dancers to always start with the basics of PRICE. "Protect the area, Rest, use Ice for pain management or inflammation, use Compression like tape or a sleeve, and Elevate the injured area to help with <a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/how-to-deal-with-lower-body-swelling-2615116317.html" target="_self">swelling</a> and blood circulation," she says. According to McIntyre, you can also never go wrong with <a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/on-a-roll-2326926492.html" target="_blank">foam rolling</a>. "The body tends to reflexively contract to protect an injured area, and sometimes that's helpful, but it also can cause more pain," she says. "Using either a foam roller or tennis ball to self-massage can help release tissue so that it can be mobilized appropriately."</p><p>When it comes to recurring injuries or pain, don't forget the techniques that have served you previously. "It's never been more important to do the exercises given to you by an athletic trainer or physical therapist," McIntyre says. Borowski agrees: "It's human nature to stop doing your exercises once you feel better, but the more regularly you do them, the more effective they'll be."</p><p>Finally, above all else, do what every dancer needs but almost never allows: rest. "A lot of dancers have more time on their hands now than ever, and they might be filling that time with exercise to manage anxiety. But there are other ways we can cope, like meditation and ensuring proper sleep and nutrition," McIntyre says. "The body is quite resilient—sometimes all it needs is a little break to heal itself." Borowski agrees that especially now, dancers have no reason to push through any sort of pain or irritation. "Now is a good time to tease out the exact movements and activities that may be causing you pain, and back away from just those things for a while," she says.</p>
When to Call in Reinforcements<p>All of our experts agree: If you've done everything you can to self-treat a minor injury, including PRICE, resting, foam rolling, and training safely, and you still don't see any improvement after one to two weeks, it's <a href="https://www.dancespirit.com/college-physical-therapy-resources-2644931877.html" target="_self">time to get a second opinion</a>. "Self-treatment shouldn't start with self-diagnosing," McIntyre says. "Knowledge is power, and once you know exactly what's causing the pain, you'll know what you need to do. Otherwise, you could end up treating the wrong thing, and it won't get better."</p><p>Over the past few months, "telehealth" has taken off—you may be surprised by how much healthcare professionals can diagnose just by using their eyes. According to Borowski, "Between gathering a patient's history, looking at the injured area, and asking the patient to perform various movements, we can usually figure out the cause of the problem and how to best treat it." Unsworth agrees, adding that "We have even more time with the patient than during a normal in-office visit, so we can fully explain what's going on and why we're doing what we're doing." While some healthcare facilities have started to open up again for private visits, even more have switched over to offer virtual visits—take advantage, if you're able.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Although this strange period of #SocialDisDancing may feel isolating, you can also use this time to improve your overall wellness. Unsworth says, "This has empowered a lot of the dancers I've worked with to be responsible for their own care even more. They're developing habits that they can use for the rest of their career."</p>
Congratulations to the May Cover Model Search Editors' Choice video winner, Reed Henry! Watch his solo below, and be sure to enter the Cover Model Search here.
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"When our hearts break, WE Dance."
That's the caption for this video, created by and featuring dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Made in the midst of widespread protests over the death of George Floyd and so many other innocent Black people, it features poetic text written and performed by company member Hope Boykin, and moving, meditative dance footage from 25 other Ailey performers.
Now in its fourth season, NBC's "World of Dance" has showcased many types of dance. "They've had styles from Mexico, China, Africa, break dancers, salsa dancers," says Kenneth Shirley, founder of Phoenix-based troupe Indigenous Enterprise.
But until last night, the show had neglected to feature America's oldest homegrown dance traditions, those of Native American tribes.