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.

Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

Given the long history of American choreographers who have threaded activism into their work—Katherine Dunham, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, Joanna Haigood, Bill T. Jones, Jo Kreiter, to name a few—it's perhaps surprising that collegiate dance has offered so little in the way of training future generations to do the same.

Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
Getty Images

As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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Dance Teacher Awards

Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

If you missed the Awards (or just want to relive them), you're in luck—they are now available to watch on-demand. We rounded up some of the highlights:

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