As well-trained as pre-professional students are, how many are ready to move into a company environment at 17 or 18 years old—and succeed? Runqiao Du, artistic director of the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, has seen many dancers struggle as apprentices and first-year corps members and notes that some don't make it beyond that. "Physically and mentally, they're just through," he says. That's why Du has instituted a weekly career development seminar to "prepare young dancers for their transition from a student mind-set to a professional mind-set," he says.
As COVID-19 persists, dance teachers everywhere are adapting their classes for online platforms. One such teacher, Birmingham, Alabama-based Melissa Turnage, is finding it especially vital. "I have been banned from the hospital for the last six weeks," she says. "If there is a need, you just have to figure it out."
Turnage is a dance artist in residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital and a dance/movement specialist at Children's Hospital of Alabama and St. Vincent's Birmingham. Though she's not a dance therapist, her dance classes for patients have shown therapeutic benefits. "They sleep better. Their mood is better. Physically they feel better," she says.
Dancers certainly don't need anyone to tell them how physical their profession is. But now, we have the data to prove it.
Researchers at InsuranceProviders.com analyzed data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a national organization developed through support from the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, to determine the 20 most physically demanding jobs in the country. They analyzed the level of strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination required for a host of jobs.