5 Self-Massage Tools to Have on Hand

Dancing all the time means you battle aches and pains all the time, too. And while you can't cart your favorite Brookstone massage chair with you everywhere, you can travel with any of these handy self-massage tools. Or just store them in your studio.

Foam roller Rollers come in different densities, so choose your hardness based on your pain tolerance. Use a roller for your iliotibial band (IT), along the outside of your thigh.



Wooden foot roller It's compact enough to keep next to you at the barre, to roll out those pesky foot cramps when they pop up.



Tennis ball Best for smaller sections of the body—like the hamstrings, glutes and feet—a tennis ball can soften knots or release your trigger points.




Thera cane It might look weird, but it's the the Thera cane's unusual shape that helps you access your hardest-to-reach spots. (Between the shoulder blades, anyone?)



Still Point Inducer Place it at the base of your skull and just relax into a gradual loosening of your neck and head. The best part? You use it while lying down.





Nan Melville, courtesy Genn

Not so long ago, it seemed that ballet dancers were always encouraged to pull up away from the floor. Ideas evolved, and more recently it has become common to hear teachers saying "Push down to go up," and variations on that concept.

Charla Genn, a New York City–based coach and dance rehabilitation specialist who teaches company class for Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Hispánico, says that this causes its own problems.

"Often when we tell dancers to go down, they physically push down, or think they have to plié more," she says. These are misconceptions that keep dancers from, among other things, jumping to their full potential.

To help dancers learn to efficiently use what she calls "Mother Marley," Genn has developed these clever techniques and teaching tools.

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Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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