It's a fact of life: Dancers get stressed out, whether the cause is being passed over for a part, a bad class or an upcoming performance. But there's a difference between a few preshow butterflies and debilitating stress that keeps you from enjoying your passion. Dance Spirit asked the experts about how stress affects the body—and how to minimize its negative symptoms.
Before each Pacific Northwest Ballet show at Seattle's McCaw Hall, the green room is full of stretching dancers—and massage therapists. “If a dancer is about to go out onstage but their calf is hurting, we get them on the table, loosen up the calf and send them out," says Christopher Kagen, LMP, who coordinates massage therapy services for the company. A preshow massage increases blood flow to the injured tissue and, Kagen explains, more blood means more oxygen and more energy. The presence of a backstage therapist highlights the importance of massage for dancers. “Massage helps to decrease tension in the muscles and increases the body's healing response," says Johann Howard, DPT, of the NYU Langone Harkness Center for Dance Injuries.
Dance Spirit turned to the experts to demystify five different types of massage and what they can do for dancers.