Soloist Craig Hall, doing physical therapy

The second-to-last episode of “city.ballet.” is about injuries—that is, a dancer’s worst nightmare. Whether you’re a principal with New York City Ballet or you have a solo spot in your studio’s opening recital number, an injury can seriously derail your dancing. The two most important takeaways from this webisode? Number one: City Ballet dancers have top-of-the-line physical therapy. Claire Von Enck, a new corps de ballet member, has a stress fracture—so she gets this magical foot contraption that she has to squeeze gel inside! (Looks complicated but good at healing.) Nearly every other shot in this episode is of the dancers getting intense massages. Craig Hall, a soloist (and one of my favorites), had ruptured his Achilles tendon onstage, and he’s constantly in one-on-one physical therapy meetings.

Number two? Injuries are the same all over. They’re incredibly frustrating, but there’s something refreshing in knowing that even the seemingly unflappable Chase Finlay gets frustrated. (Talking about his broken foot: “For chrissake, it’s the first week of the season!”)

I developed a lovely little injury called “turf toe” as a junior in college (spraining the ligaments near the big toe joint, so called because football players who play on artificial turf often develop it), right before an important adjudication showing for our college dance department. I was dancing in four pieces, and I could feel how difficult it was for my choreographers to not freak out over whether I’d be ready to dance in time. It was so difficult not to dance for those couple of weeks; I had people depending on me, and I needed to not only make a full recovery but also seamlessly integrate myself into these dances with little actual rehearsal, post-recovery.

How do you keep your dancers from getting frustrated over injuries? What’s your best advice for dancers who have to sit on the sidelines while an injury heals?

For the past 17 years, the Martha Hill Fund has been honoring the commitment to dance education and international performance embodied by its namesake. Previous award winners have included Carla Maxwell, former artistic director of Limón Dance Company, former Ailey II dancer Frederick Earl Mosley and Mark DeGarmo of Mark DeGarmo Dance.

This year's awards gala takes place tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. Check out who's being honored.

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The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

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Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

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Dancer Health
To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

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Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

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Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

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Dance Buzz

We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

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