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.
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.
Dance teachers don’t need to be super-thin anymore, but it’s hard not to keep asking, “What happened to that soloist’s body? Why am I gaining weight?”
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.
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.
What’s that smell? It’s unmistakable and controversial—the smell of cigarettes. So much has changed nationally and internationally in the last 10 years in terms of restrictions on smoking in public.
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.
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.
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.”
It’s always amusing when someone greets me by saying that they’d like to do exactly what I do for a living. At such times I think: be careful what you wish for.
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.
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.
Does it seem like you’re always suffering with a cold? Or do you remain relatively sniffle-free? The answer can depend on a number of factors.
Dancers are constantly being evaluated and must endure comments from teachers, directors, critics, and peers. Those words have power.
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.
There’s good news and bad news about hypermobility: it helps dancers achieve beautiful, extended lines, but it comes with health issues and concerns—some that might even keep a person from dancing at all.
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.
Stressed? Who isn’t, these days? Think about how your day started on the way to the studio. Do these thoughts sound familiar?
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.
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.
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.
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?
My good friend was on the phone, distraught. She complained that the side of her thigh was going numb and she was rightfully concerned; numbness in a leg is not a good sign.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Stress is a fact of life. We can’t live with it when it gets overwhelming, and we can’t live without it because it motivates us to stage the next big project. I tell my clients to go for the “athlete recipe”: alternate stress with relief, stress with relief.
When was the last time someone looked at you as if you were a bored housewife and said, “Well, at least you can work when you want to because you work for yourself”? When that happens to me, I resist the urge to kill, and in my best imitation of a syrupy Scarlett O’Hara, I smile sweetly and remember my company motto, “Smile and be polite.” Then I gently explain that when you work for yourself, every client is your boss and unfortunately, the hours are 24/7.
If you’ve been thinking about spicing up your normal exercise routine, look no further. Dance Studio Life asked a range of practitioners, all of whom work with dancers, for their favorite stretching and strengthening exercises.