Former New York City Ballet dancer Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice, the author of Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass) and co-author of The Dancer's Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition (St. Martin's Griffin). Her website is drlindahamilton.com.
I never believe that I deserve to be happy. This reaction kicked in big time since I got a steady job. My emotions are a roller coaster: joy at the chance to perform, terror that the people in charge don't like me and resentment at not getting solo roles. I'm driving myself crazy.
—Terry, Philadelphia, PA
In your wellness workshop at The Ailey School, you suggested that a way to attend a lot of auditions after graduation (without getting depressed) was to see each one as a free class. It worked. I can't remember how many jobs I've tried out for, but I managed to stay hopeful and finally landed a full-time position. Thank you!
—Grateful Dancer, Newark, NJ
I'm a transgender ballet dancer (male to female) who desperately wants to perform in a professional company. I haven't come out about my gender because I'm afraid it will hurt my career. Yet it feels wrong to do male variations and have my teachers tell me to be more masculine. What can I do?
I haven't been able to sleep, eat or dance as usual since Hurricane Maria destroyed my home in Puerto Rico while I was visiting from school. My family was able to fly back to stay with my mother's relatives in Florida, although the BFA program I attend is unfortunately in another state. I can't stop crying or thinking about our house collapsing around us. I also feel badly that I can't help my friends. Why am I so weak?
—Carla, New York, NY
My girlfriend wants me to say "no" to extra work outside of the company. During breaks, I typically teach master classes, do gigs and choreograph. I love these opportunities, but I'm always tired and it interferes with our time together. What should I do?
—Principal Dancer, New York, NY
It took two years of intense nutrition counseling and psychotherapy to pull me out of being anorexic. My problem now is that I've gained too much weight from eating normally. Is there no middle ground? I can't fit into my clothes, but I don't want to go back to being sick.
—Former Anorexic, Weston, CT
Why do I keep getting stress fractures? I menstruate normally, dance on a sprung floor and take calcium supplements to strengthen my bones. I also follow my orthopedist's instructions and did rehab after previous stress fractures. What's wrong with my body?
—Rose, Yonkers, NY
My nerves have been a mess since auditioning for a Nutcracker my teacher recommended me for. I freaked out because I was afraid to disappoint her. I didn't get hired, although my audition material is being kept on file by the artistic director. I feel like a complete failure.
—Loser, Hoboken, NJ