Injuries: Many dancers accept them as a necessary evil, just “part of the job.” But what if they didn’t have to be? Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA, has developed an injury prevention program in collaboration with doctors from Boston Children’s Hospital. Dance Spirit chatted with the school’s director of dance, Michael Owen, and director of physical therapy, Susan Kinney, about four rules of injury prevention.
Students at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts cross-train in a TRX Suspension Training class targeted at dancers. (Photo by Amanda Grazioli)
CROSS-TRAIN. “Bodies crave muscular balance,” Kinney says. But dancers tend to work the same muscle groups repeatedly and ignore others, which can lead to injuries. Through proper cross-training, you can strengthen underused muscles, while also stretching overused muscles.
Talk to your teacher at the first sign of injury. "If you catch it early, it's gone early," Owen says. (Photo by Nanette Grebe/thinkstock.com)
STUDY ANATOMY. “It’s important for dancers to be aware of which muscles they’re using, and why,” Owen says. An anatomical understanding of dance will help you internalize your teacher’s corrections, because you’ll appreciate the physical consequences (injuries!) of improper technique.
MODIFY. “There’s no shame in modifying!” Kinney stresses. Modifications to technique, such as not going on relevé due to foot pain, allow your body to heal without keeping you from the studio.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. “The body will know when something isn’t right,” Kinney says. Early symptoms of pain and discomfort are warning signs of potentially more serious injuries.
(Illustration by Eastnine Inc./thinkstock.com)
Did you know?
Controlling your playlist while you exercise can have real benefits. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences found that individuals who controlled the music they listened to were able to exercise longer than those who passively listened to music playing in the background. The researchers call this effect jymmin, a mix between gym and jamming. So next time you’re feelin’ the burn, make sure you’ve got your best playlist ready to go
(Photo by Dave King/thinkstock.com)
Don’t pour out the liquid at the top of your yogurt cup! It’s filled with nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and probiotics. If it weirds you out, try stirring it in or saving it for a smoothie.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "