First Aid Kit 101

Prepare for emergencies with a well-stocked studio.

No matter how hard we try to prevent them, injuries still occur. But with a little advanced planning, minor disasters can be quickly and easily taken care of with as little stress as possible to the dancer (and to you). A well-stocked first-aid kit is essential for injuries that do not need immediate professional medical attention, or to hold a student over until help arrives. Here is a basic list of items every studio should have on hand and how to use them.

+ Latex gloves

Use: “It should be standard practice that anytime bodily fluids are involved, gloves are used,” says Alison Deleget, ATC, clinical specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. When treating an open wound, gloves protect the injury from contamination and help both parties avoid infection.

+ CPR masks

Use: The mask prevents contact with saliva while rescue breaths are administered during CPR. It allows your oxygen to enter the injured party’s airway, but her breath cannot enter yours.

+ Gauze (square pads and rolled)

Use: Square gauze pads stop bleeding and absorb drainage from minor cuts or wounds. “Put direct pressure on a cut with gauze,” says Peter Lavine, PhD, an orthopedic surgeon in Washington, DC. “Then clean it with sterile saline and wrap it up with rolled gauze.” Rolled gauze can also be used for compression in minor joint injuries, like sprained or strained ligaments in the wrist or ankle. Wrap the injured area to reduce swelling.

+ Three to five ACE bandages

Use: For a serious ankle injury, the ACE bandage provides support until the dancer can see a physician. “When wrapping, go from the toes to the nose,” says Deleget. “Wrap inward so the swelling is pushed back up to the core rather than into the toes, where it has nowhere to go. Also, do not maximize the pull of the band.”

+ Five instant cold compresses

Use: In the case of a sprain, use ice to reduce swelling. Keep in mind that extreme cold can damage skin, so always use a barrier between skin and the pack. “Break the ice pack, wrap it in a paper towel, then place it on the injury,” Lavine says. “Remove it after 20 minutes,” which will allow blood to flow back to the injured area.

+ Air cast

Use: This should be used to immobilize a more severe ankle sprain or strain, or when a break is involved. “Air casts loosen up to fit everyone,” Lavine says. “Each can be used on either foot, so having one is convenient in many situations. Just fit it onto the ankle and secure it with Velcro.”

+ Three triangular bandages

Use: Triangular bandages have several uses. They can immobilize body parts when wrapped around the injury or be used to create a sling by tying the two opposite corners at the shoulder for support under the injured arm. “However, you need to be trained in how to make one into a sling,” Deleget says. You may also include a standard sling in your first-aid kit, but triangular bandages are more versatile.

+ Crutches

Use: Crutches keep weight off an injured leg, ankle or foot. Lavine suggests metal models with adjustable height, which should be measured from the floor to the dancer’s armpit.

Your kit should also contain:

  • Adhesive bandages in  assorted shapes and sizes (20 to 25) for minor cuts and scrapes
  • Cloth tape to hold bandages in place
  • Stainless-steel scissors for cutting bandages and tape to the correct length
  • Q-tips for applying ointment
  • Individual alcohol wipes and saline solution for disinfection and cleaning out cuts
  • Hydrocortisone cream packets for irritated skin
  • An eye patch for injuries such as a scratched cornea or foreign objects in the eye
  • Tweezers to remove splinters
  • Toenail clippers

Teacher Training

“Anyone who is a staff member at a dance studio should be trained in first-aid and CPR,” says Alison Deleget, ATC, clinical specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. There are affordable classes offered at the American Red Cross. To find a class or workshop in your area, visit www.redcross.org.

In Case of Emergency

Studio owners should post an emergency action plan near the front desk, which employees can refer to as guidelines during an emergency. According to Deleget, this poster should include all of the studio’s information, like its specific location, to give to 911, as well as the location of the first-aid kit.

The Drug Dilemma

While Advil, Aleve, aspirin and Tylenol can all be used to keep swelling down, dispensing drugs, even over-the-counter versions, is controversial. “It is the studio owner’s choice if she would like to have over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications available,” says orthopedic surgeon Peter Lavine, PhD. “They are nice to have, but always ask if the dancer has any allergies before distributing them.” Also, dancers under 10 years old should not be given anything; leave this decision up to their parents.

 

 

Brianne Carlon is an Ohio-based freelance writer and former dancer for the Cleveland Cavalier Girls.

Illustration by Emily Giacalone

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.


"I like to give dancers a phrase of music and choreography and have them reinterpret it," she says, "to be thinkers and creators and not just replicators."

Osato learned this approach—avoiding the natural temptation of the music always being the leader—while earning her MFA in choreography at California Institute of the Arts. "When I was collaborating with a composer for my thesis, he mentioned, 'You always count in eights. Why?'"

This forced Osato out of her creative comfort zone. "The choices I made, my use of music, and its correlation to the movement were put under a microscope," she says. "I learned to not always make the music the driving motive of my work," a habit she attributes to her competition studio training as a young dancer.

While an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, Osato first encountered modern dance. That discovery, along with her experience dancing in Boogiezone Inc.'s off-campus hip-hop company, BREED, co-founded by Elm Pizarro, inspired her own, blended style, combining modern and hip hop with jazz. While still in college, she began working with fellow UCI student Will Johnston, and co-founded the Boogiezone Contemporary Class with Pizarro, an affordable series of classes that brought top choreographers from Los Angeles to Orange County.

"We were trying to bring the hip-hop and contemporary communities together and keep creating work for our friends," says Osato, who has taught for West Coast Dance Explosion and choreographed for studios across the country.

In 2009, Osato, Johnston and Pizarro launched Entity Contemporary Dance, which she and Johnston direct. The company, now based in Los Angeles, won the 2017 Capezio A.C.E. Awards, and, in 2019, Osato was chosen for two choreographic residencies (Joffrey Ballet's Winning Works and the USC Kaufman New Movement Residency), and became a full-time associate professor of dance at Santa Monica College.

At SMC, Osato challenges her students—and herself—by incorporating a live percussionist, a luxury that's been on pause during the pandemic. She finds that live music brings a heightened sense of awareness to the room. "I didn't realize what I didn't have until I had it," Osato says. "Live music helps dancers embody weight and heaviness, being grounded into the floor." Instead of the music dictating the movement, they're a part of it.

Osato uses the musician as a collaborator who helps stir her creativity, in real time. "I'll say 'Give me something that's airy and ambient,' and the sounds inspire me," says Osato. She loves playing with tension and release dynamics, fall and recovery, and how those can enhance and digress from the sound.

"I can't wait to get back to the studio and have that again," she says.

Osato made Dance Teacher a Spotify playlist with some of her favorite songs for class—and told us about why she loves some of them.

"Get It Together," by India.Arie

"Her voice and lyrics hit my soul and ground me every time. Dream artist. My go-to recorded music in class is soul R&B. There's simplicity about it that I really connect with."

"Turn Your Lights Down Low," by Bob Marley + The Wailers, Lauryn Hill

"A classic. This song embodies that all-encompassing love and gets the whole room groovin'."

"Diamonds," by Johnnyswim

"This song's uplifting energy and drive is infectious! So much vulnerability, honesty and joy in their voices and instrumentation."

"There Will Be Time," by Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal

"Mumford & Sons' music has always struck a deep chord within me. Their songs are simultaneously stripped-down and complex and feel transcendent."

"With The Love In My Heart," by Jacob Collier, Metropole Orkest, Jules Buckley

"Other than it being insanely energizing and cinematic, I love how challenging the irregular meter is!"

For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.