Q: I've just seen the most extreme case of hyperextension I've encountered in 30 years of teaching. When the dancer stands in second position, her knees are only a few inches apart. How can I help her have a beautiful line without hurting herself?
Q: Two years ago, one of my dancers fractured her ankle and was out for six months. Upon her return, I cautiously allowed her to take pointe class, but treated her as if she was a beginner, because she was rolling out into supination, and I was fearful she would reinjure her ankle. Her mother feels I have held her back and changed to another studio. Did I make the right choice?
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.