A Better You

November 2013 | A Better You | Ointment Options

Which pain-relieving gel, cream, or lotion is in your dance bag? Dancers and teachers who are suffering from day-to-day aches and pains can look to a plethora of available medical and quasi-medical ointments for relief. Let’s give those salves a look and see which ones to toss and which you might add to your bag.

Read More

October 2013 | A Better You | Sound Advice

Vocal hygiene is not just for professional speakers, singers, or triple threats. Dance teachers and studio owners too need to take care of their voices. Vocal quality is important—it can be an asset or an off-putting liability.

Read More

September 2013 | A Better You | Pampering During Pregnancy

How to make nine months of change easy on the body By Suzanne Martin, PT, DPT You got the happy news: you’re pregnant! Now what? There are so many things to consider. How do you handle the demands of pregnancy while maintaining your teaching load? What can you do to help make sure your baby…

Read More

September 2013 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Chris Collins

NOMINATED BY: Tiffany Hopper, teacher: “Chris is a wonderful role model and a wonderful boss. He has been an inspiration to so many over the years. We’ve danced at Disney World, on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, performed for special-needs friends, participated in March of Dimes walks, and attended countless workshops and competitions. Although we participate in competitions, our primary focus is on education.

Read More

August 2013 | A Better You | Sidestepping the Sidelines

How many tendus do you think you’ve done in your lifetime? Hip circles? Battements? Scary, isn’t it? Dance training requires countless repetitions of the same movements, and performing and teaching careers often follow. And all those ronds de jambe and arabesques add up. Tack on the number of times a teacher demonstrates a step, and we’re looking at some potentially serious overuse issues.

Read More

July 2013 | A Better You | Sniffles and Sneezes

One thing is certain in the dance world: the show must go on. It’s all about delivering the product. But sometimes your body doesn’t cooperate; like everyone else, dancers and teachers do get sick. And sometimes this means having to make a decision about whether it’s time to stay home.

Read More

May-June 2013 | A Better You | Perk Up With Perfect Posture

I often hear people say they can spot dancers and dance teachers by the way they walk. These observers note the dancers’ grace in motion and vertical stance. That’s true; those qualities are ingrained in us over years of training and performing. But once you’re teaching, all those hours in the classroom and at a computer, plus fatigue from doing too much on a regular basis, can take a toll on even the most aligned backs and straight shoulders.

Read More

March-April 2013 | A Better You | Shape Up for Summer

Tickets? Check. Reservations? Check. You’ve been waiting for months to rejuvenate, get remotivated, and reconnect with colleagues at the annual summertime conference. The time has finally arrived. All systems are go. It’s “you” time.

Read More

February 2013 | A Better You | Getting Out With Grace

Most teachers, myself included, have witnessed messy employee/employer breakups, or worse, been a party to the dreaded dance divorce. Sometimes teachers are fired. By the time that happens to you, there’s not much you can do except maintain your dignity and keep your chin up. But making a decision to quit, and doing so in the most positive way possible, requires thought, planning, and maturity.

Read More

January 2013 | A Better You | Say What?

What do rock bands and dance teachers have in common? No, this isn’t a joke. Sadly, the answer is hearing loss caused by listening to loud noises and music over long periods of time. Here are some facts and tips on how to protect yourself so that you can dance to the music for the rest of your career.

Read More

December 2012 | A Better You | Bodywork

Feeling achy? Are your feet tired and sore? Did you tweak your back demonstrating a step? Where do you go for relief? Many people find that massage can work miracles. But what can it do? How does it work? Who does what, and where can you find a reputable massage therapist?

Read More

November 2012 | A Better You | Dealing With Doubt

Successful teaching demands that the instructor take command of her material and her classroom with authority. This can be tough, especially when you’re just launching a teaching career. Think about when you first started teaching. Did you come roaring out of the gate, full of confidence, or do you still sometimes struggle with doubts about your qualifications, teaching abilities, or leadership qualities?

Read More

October 2012 | A Better You | Wobble Your Way to Strength

How do dance teachers stay sound and healthy enough to demonstrate safely after they stop dancing full time? It’s tricky business. We take for granted the flexibility and strength acquired throughout our performing and early teaching days. But all too often our bodies let us know that after all those years, they need more attention.

Read More

September 2012 | A Better You | Fighting Fatigue

It’s no secret that dance teachers often have long, grueling hours. Handling your own fatigue when you’re faced with a barrage of personalities, minor emergencies, and classroom challenges isn’t easy.

Read More

July 2012 | A Better You | Headache Help

If you suffer from frequent or severe headaches, here’s one more reason to be glad you weren’t around in the not-so-good old days: one treatment in centuries past was a technique called trephining.

Read More

May-June 2012 | A Better You | Health Care How-Tos

Do-it-yourself health care is a part of life for many dancers—and dance teachers. Over time you’ve figured out how to tame that tendonitis and soothe strained muscles, so you might be one of those people who often delay seeking medical attention.

Read More

February 2012 | A Better You | Beating the Blahs

Do you realize how the seasons affect you? Weather affects mood. Dance teachers aren’t immune, especially since many studios, looking for a steady income stream, offer summer and holiday camps that keep their faculty teaching through all seasons.

Read More

January 2012 | A Better You | Mood Swings, Menopause, and Men

Hormones. You can’t live without them, but sometimes it’s hard to live with them, and that includes when you’re on your feet all day, teaching and dealing with teens who are as temperamental as you feel. How to cope? Being aware of what’s happening and being kind to yourself are good places to start.

Read More

December 2011 | A Better You | Down in the Mouth

Take a test. Look at your face in the mirror. Open your mouth, make a fist with the knuckles held vertically, and see how many knuckles you can fit in between your teeth. This is called the “freeway space.”

Read More

October 2011 | A Better You | Osteoporosis and You

Why should dance teachers worry about their bones? Osteoporosis is basically an epidemic. About 10 million Americans have this bone-weakening disease, with another 34 million at risk, the National Osteoporosis Foundation says.

Read More

September 2011 |A Better You | Helping Your Hands

As a teacher, think how many times a day you use your hands. As a dancer, consider the beauty of a delicate hand in a port de bras. Our hands are priceless, yet we don’t always think of protecting their health.

Read More

May-June 2011 | A Better You | Better Balance

Living the dance life is a balancing act. Literally. How many hours have you spent teetering on demi-pointe or performing a challenging adagio on one leg for 64 counts? So much of our early training is spent in finding our balance, and then once we gain it we assume it will always be there for us. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.

Read More

February 2011 | A Better You | Needy Knees

When a dancer has to stop dancing prematurely, it’s often the knees that are to blame. Sometimes those pesky joints lay dancers low in a dramatic mid-performance injury, and sometimes it’s just daily knee pain that leads a dancer or teacher to quietly end her career.

Read More

December 2010 | A Better You | Get Hip to Health

Hips—we love ’em in the dance world. They make life worthwhile by letting us kick, swivel, turn, jump, everything—you name it. We probably spend half of our dance lives cultivating the perfect demi- and grand plié.

Read More

November 2010 | A Better You | Body Check

For dancers, pain is a way of life. And as teachers, after years of accepting the physical discomfort caused by rigorous training, rehearsal, and performance, we may end up with a skewed perspective on how much discomfort is acceptable. It’s time to rethink what’s acceptable for your body from a health-and-wellness point of view.

Read More

October 2010 | A Better You | A Touch of Caution

As dance teachers, you probably find that you need to touch your students in order to make certain corrections. Dance is a visceral, physical tradition, and hands-on cueing and correctives are essential. Yet in today’s dance world—at least in the United States—let the teacher beware.

Read More

September 2010 | A Better You | Letting the Sun Shine

Waking up tired and sluggish? Do you feel apathetic, indifferent, and numb at the studio? Have long days turned into long years, your attitude become “Been there, done that” as you anticipate every irritation that can happen in a day? Are you counting the days until vacation even though the dance year just started?

Read More

July 2010 | A Better You | Super-Charged Caffeine

Ten years ago, during one of my nutrition lectures at the San Francisco Ballet School, a young dancer asked if it was OK to consume an energy drink—then new on the market—before performances. She said one drink (which will remain nameless here) gave her more than enough va-voom to get her through a two-hour ballet.

Read More

May-June 2010 | A Better You | Oh, My Aching Back!

Got an aching back? You’re not alone. It’s estimated that 80 percent of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and why wouldn’t dancers be included? They endure long hours standing in classes and even longer hours delegating, directing rehearsals, and doing grunt work during performance crunch times. Most teachers have reveled in their back flexibility, perfect pull-up, and posture, but how long can those nobly acquired attributes hold up? Here are some tips to help tame those aches and pains.

Read More

February 2010 | A Better You | What’s in a Word?

Having a nice day? As teachers and studio owners, you’ve probably noticed that the quality of your day has a lot to do with the people you deal with. Dance education means lots of face-to-face interaction, and that means running the gauntlet of myriad personalities and their varying emotional states. When customer satisfaction is a necessary goal for survival—as it is for anyone involved in teaching dance—it’s important to work toward positive outcomes in both business and casual interactions.

Read More

January 2010 | A Better You | “Ouch” to “Ahhh”

It’s one thing all dance teachers have in common: standing for mega-hours. I remember talking to a friend who had stopped teaching dance; she said the best thing about it was that her feet didn’t hurt anymore. And when I sympathized with a dancer caught in ridiculous traffic, a similar thing happened: She said she was so grateful just to be sitting down. Sound

Read More

December 2009 | A Better You | Frenzy Free

Everyone would agree that the year’s end is a difficult time. It usually involves frantic list making, wrapping up the fall season’s dance programs, and facing increased family and social commitments. And then there’s coming to terms with what did and did not happen in the business plan for the year. If that isn’t a recipe for hyperventilating and an impending sense of doom, I don’t know what is.

Read More

A Better You | Super Powers of Sleep

Missing a little sleep? Well, think twice about doing that, if you can. As someone who travels frequently across both national and international time zones on business, I can attest to the mental and physical challenges of sleep disruption. And judging from the plethora of commercials for sleep medication on television and in magazines, sleep—or more important, insomnia—is a national concern.

Read More

A Better You | Maximizing Your Potential

Got talent? Of course you do! If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in the position you are with a dance studio. Is it a blessing that allows you to soar above your peers, or a curse that blinds you to the need to follow through with vision and passion?

Read More

A Better You | Rediscovering Your Core

It’s true that most dance injuries occur in the ankle and foot; however, overuse injuries are the hallmark of dance training, which is repetitive by nature. The biomechanical chain from the core downward is of crucial importance in helping dancers continue to dance. The top of this chain is, of course, the core.

Read More

A Better You | Know Your Legs and Feet

Virtually all dancers treasure their legs and feet. Legs give us the power to enjoy the greatest feeling in dance: flying through the air. In my favorite childhood dream—perhaps a precursor to my love of leaping—the air would flow through my hair as I soared over houses and trees.

Read More

A Better You | Know Your Upper Body

Nothing is more beautiful or exhilarating than a port de bras. I love the saying “The legs dance the music and the upper body sings the movement.” But getting to the point where your dancing sings is not always easy. Often the problems are obvious to teachers, but what a correction really means or where the work should be happening might not be so evident to students. This month we examine some tools to guide corrections related to the upper body, and in the next few columns we will sequentially dissect the lower body and that all-important turnout.

Read More

A Better You | Coping in a Crisis

Does art imitate life? The lively arts in America historically shadow the ebbs and flows of the economic life of the country, and those who practice them know all too well the pain of the current economic downturn.

Read More

A Better You | The ABCs on Vitamin D

Why does Vitamin D matter? For starters, it plays an important role in bone density, especially in women. The American College of Sports Medicine and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science have made groundbreaking statements about the incidence of amenorrhea, osteoporosis, and stress fractures in female athletes and dancers.

Read More

A Better You | On-the-Go Nutrition

Staying healthy while being in a studio all day and eating on the run is one enormous challenge. And wouldn’t it be great to go beyond maintenance by achieving optimal health?

Read More