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?