Health & Body

3 Principal Dancers Get Real About Injuries on Instagram

Injuries are the absolute WORST. Believe me, after a bad break at the base of my second metatarsal during my junior year of high school, I can say with complete confidence that the whole experience is a real bummer. A tweaked knee, popped tendon or broken ankle are the kinds of things that fill dancers' nightmares. In this rigorous and at times unforgiving artform, taking necessary time to recover can feel like a death sentence to a promising career.

While I was able to eventually recover and land my first professional contract with Odyssey Dance Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, just two years later, that time of rehabilitation was devastating to me. Looking back, I wish I had had the inspiration and guidance of professional dancers who had triumphed over injuries and went on to continue their dazzling dancing careers.

Thankfully, today the world of social media allows dancers to generously share their experiences with the public. Check out these three star-studded performers who've gotten real about injury recovery on Instagram. Share their stories with your students and help them navigate the rough terrain of minor to major injuries.

1. David Hallberg: American Ballet Theatre

In 2014, principal dancer David Hallberg had an ankle injury that almost caused him to quit ballet altogether. After multiple surgeries, he flew to Melbourne, Australia, to begin what would become 14 months of rehabilitation. He shares snapshots of his recovery on Instagram.

2. Steven McRae: The Royal Ballet

Last May, principal dancer Steven McRae announced he would be taking time off to tend to an injury and get surgery. He stressed that he will be working hard to get back onstage for future seasons. His Instagram has since been filled with motivational posts detailing his recovery process.

3. Lauren Cuthbertson: The Royal Ballet

In early June, principal dancer Laura Cuthbertson announced she would not be finishing The Royal Ballet's current season due to an injury. In her post she apologizes to the audience and her partner for having to bow out early, sharing the feelings of guilt and responsibility dancers naturally feel when having to take time off.

Teachers Trending
Cynthia Oliver in her office. Photo by Natalie Fiol

When it comes to Cynthia Oliver's classes, you always bring your A game. (As her student for the last two and a half years in the MFA program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I feel uniquely equipped to make this statement.) You never skip the reading she assigns; you turn in not your first draft but your third or fourth for her end-of-semester research paper; and you always do the final combination of her technique class full-out, even if you're exhausted.

Oliver's arrival at UIUC 20 years ago jolted new life into the dance department. "It may seem odd to think of this now, but the whole concept of an artist-scholar was new when she first arrived," says Sara Hook, who also joined the UIUC dance faculty in 2000. "You were either a technique teacher or a theory/history teacher. Cynthia's had to very patiently educate all of us about the nature of her work, and I think that has increased our passion for the kind of excavation she brings to her research."

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Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Ford Foundation; Christian Peacock; Nathan James, Courtesy Gibson; David Gonsier, courtesy Marshall; Bill Zemanek, courtesy King; Josefina Santos, courtesy Brown; Jayme Thornton; Ian Douglas, courtesy American Realness

Since 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have celebrated the living legends of our field—from Martha Graham to Misty Copeland to Alvin Ailey to Gene Kelly.

This year is no different. But for the first time ever, the Dance Magazine Awards will be presented virtually—which is good news for aspiring dancers (and their teachers!) everywhere. (Plus, there's a special student rate of $25.)

The Dance Magazine Awards aren't just a celebration of the people who shape the dance field—they're a unique educational opportunity and a chance for dancers to see their idols up close.

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Leap! Executive Director Drew Vamosi (Courtesy Leap!)

Since its inaugural season in 2012, Leap! National Dance Competition has been all about the little things.

"I wanted to have a 'boutique' competition. One where we went out to only one city every weekend, so I could be there myself, and we could really get to know the teachers and watch their kids progress from year to year," says Leap! executive director Drew Vamosi. According to Vamosi, thoughtful details make all the difference, especially during a global pandemic that's thrown many dancers' typical comp-season schedules for a loop. That's why Leap! prides itself on features like its professional-quality set design, as well as its one-of-a-kind leaping competition, where dancers can show off their best tricks for special cash and merchandise prizes.

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