Dancer Health
"I hate the word 'skinny.' As a dancer, you're an athlete." —Caroline Lewis-Jones. Photo courtesy of Adrenaline Dance Convention

“My mom is always the story I lead with," says Caroline Lewis-Jones about her relationship to health and wellness. “She was sick my entire life, and I'd do anything to have her back." A certified health coach who teaches for Adrenaline Dance Convention, Lewis-Jones is passionate about training healthy, mindful dancers. And while it might seem rare to witness a nutrition course during a jam-packed convention weekend, Lewis-Jones always finds a way. She incorporates wellness into her workshops and master classes on the circuit, empowering young dancers to take control of their bodies—and what they put into them.

A Columbia, South Carolina, native, Lewis-Jones trained with Nancy Giles at The Southern Strutt. After high school, Lewis-Jones headed to New York to attend Marymount Manhattan College as a communications major, and, while in the city, performed with Jason Parsons and Mia Michaels' RAW, as well as in music videos for Madonna and *NSYNC. But after five successful years in NYC, Lewis-Jones moved back home in 2004. “My mom had been sick with breast cancer, and I didn't have a good feeling about her prognosis this time," she says. “She died a year later, and I haven't left."

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Dancer Health
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It's the middle of the semester and two dancers are sitting out of class, you're worried about one student's mental health and another has developed an eating disorder. Sound familiar? College can be a tumultuous time. To help address the additional demands of being a dance major, some schools have found strategies for enhancing wellness and integrating health services into their departments.

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Dancer Health
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It can happen so quickly. One moment a promising student is strong and pushing their way forward to success, and then suddenly they begin to evaporate before your eyes. Research has consistently shown that dancers are at least three times as likely to experience an eating disorder compared to the general population. So even if you are doing everything "right," you may still find yourself advocating for the wellness of a student battling disordered eating. By setting a proactive groundwork of support and confronting the issue head-on in the studio, you may have the power to change the movement of disordered eating in dance.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I can't straighten both legs and maintain a closed fifth position. I believe it's mostly because one leg is longer than the other one. What can I do?

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Dancer Health
Photo via Bowflex on YouTube

We're preaching to the choir when we say that a strong core can make all the difference in a performer. You are all excellent at giving your students combinations that will strengthen their abdominals and give them the freedom to dance with abandon onstage. But sometimes those ab exercises can feel a little stale. After a while, boredom sets in, and your dancers get sick of the drudgery of crunches at the end of every warm-up.

Never fear! These four fabulous core exercise videos will lead your dancers to, if not love, at least appreciate, their ab workout.

Check them out!

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I've been blessed with great feet and ankles, but when it comes to getting higher relevés out of my students with lesser feet, I'm stumped. Do you have any advice for achieving maximum relevé?

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Since the dawn of time, performers have had to deal with annoying, constant blisters. As every dance teacher knows (and every student is sure to find out), blisters are a fact of life, and we all need to figure out a plan of action for how to deal with them.

Instead of bleeding through pointe shoes and begging you to let them sit out, your students should know these tricks for how to prevent/deal with their skin when it starts to sting.

You're welcome!

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Dance Teachers Trending
Deanna Paolantonio leads a workshop. Photo courtesy of Paolantonio

Deanna Paolantonio had been interested in body positivity long before diabetes ever crossed her mind. As a Zumba and Pilates instructor who had just earned her master's degree in dance studies, she focused her research on the relationship between fitness and body image for women and young girls. Then, at age 25, just as she was accepted into the PhD program at York University in Toronto, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I can't straighten both legs and maintain a closed fifth position. I believe it's mostly because one leg is longer than the other one. What can I do?

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Dance Teacher Tips

For an aspiring professional dancer, an unexpected injury can feel like a death sentence to a career that hasn't even started. The recovery process following an injury can be one of the most grueling and heartbreaking experiences a performer will ever face. In times like these, dance teachers have the power to boost or weaken a dancer's morale.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of do's and don'ts for talking to a seriously injured dancer.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: How can I improve my middle splits?

A: Middle splits can be quite challenging depending on your hip structure. Sitting in a straddle and leaning forward, as well as having your legs in a straddle against the wall, are both stretches that dancers can do to lengthen the inner thigh muscles.

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Dancer Health
Tension in the legs is related to core weakness. Photo courtesy of AZ Dance Medicine Specialists

In the lead-up to competition season, "Again! From the top!!" can be overheard in studios across the nation. As students rehearse their routines ad nauseam in the final push to get ready, longer hours can sometimes mean that warm-ups get lost and increased repetition can create overuse injuries. Plus the extreme tricks and greater demands for flexibility can put stress on the joints and tendons of growing and adolescent bodies.

"In the dance industry, we are very used to releasing and stretching," says Dr. Alexis Sams, physical therapist and owner of AZ Dance Medicine Specialists. "But the key to injury prevention is matching mobility with stability. You are not going to get the results you want without doing the stabilizing work." While Dr. Sams does not recommend that students self-diagnose an injury and believes in the necessity of a professional assessment when a student reports pain, she has found that many overuse injuries can be prevented by strengthening the core and glute muscles, and sticking to a proper warm-up. Here are three common places where students report pain, what may be causing it, and the best exercises to address and prevent the injury.

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Dance Teacher Tips
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Q: I tell my ballet students to pull up the front of their abdominals, but when I put my hand on their stomachs, I don't feel anything. What can I do?

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