11 Expert-Approved Injury Prevention Tools for Dancers
Dancers will do just about anything to increase their odds of staying injury-free. And there are plenty of products out there claiming that they can help you do just that. But which actually work?
We asked for recommendations from four experts: Martt Lawrence, who teaches Pilates to dancers in San Francisco; Lisa-Marie Lewis, who teaches yoga at The Ailey Extension in New York City; physical therapist Alexis Sams, who treats dancers at her clinic in Phoenix; and stretch training coach Vicente Hernandez, who teaches at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet.
For Stronger Inner Thighs: Magic Circle
Gratz Industries' Magic Circle, $30, pilates-gratz.com
Lawrence says this tool is great for strengthening your inner thighs, which are often weak in dancers. It particularly helps with movements like quick footwork. She suggests practicing small tendus in every direction while squeezing the circle between your ankles.
To Unknot Your Muscles: A Small Spiky Ball
Body Back FootStar Acupressure Ball, $6.45, bodyback.com
"All those nice spiky edges can get into little trigger points," says Sams. She suggests rolling after class when you're already warm and your muscles are pliable.
For Smarter Stretching: A Yoga Block
Hugger Mugger's Cork Yoga Block, $19.95, huggermugger.com
Blocks aren't about what you can't do—they're about helping you get more out of a pose, says Lewis: "Don't let your ego get in the way of getting into the correct position."
To Recover Faster: KT Tape
KT Tape Cotton, $12.99, kttape.com
"The tape works by stimulating your sense of touch and calls attention to the injured area while dancing," explains Sams. Though not a long-term solution, it can help on the road to recovery.
For Healthier Feet: PerfectFit Inserts
PerfectFit Inserts Kit, $42, perfectfitpointe.com
Sams points out that pointe shoes have always been made to break down so that they mold to the dancer's foot, and these inserts continue that tradition to make the fit even more snug.
For Upper-Body Strength Training: Resistance Tubes
Merrithew's Strength Tubing, $18.99, merrithew.com
Both Hernandez and Sams recommend resistance tubes: They're more resilient than bands, and easily hook on a hand or ankle.
To Prevent Bunions: Toe Corrector
Prag Movement's Toe Corrector, $51, pilatesscandinavia.com
This tool strengthens the muscles near the big-toe joint and helps prevent bunions. Lawrence particularly recommends it for dancers just starting pointework.
To Become a Safer, Better Turner: A Spinboard
Superior Stretch's Spinboard, $21.59, superiorstretch.com
Hernandez says turning boards can help you practice proper alignment and feel the sensation of multiple revolutions.
To Roll Out Your Feet: Yamuna Foot Wakers
Yamuna Foot Wakers Kit, $65.95, yamunausa.com
In addition to teaching yoga, Lewis performs in The Lion King on Broadway, and warms up her feet with these before every show. "It's like a foot roller, but you can spend more time in each spot," she says.
To Build Better Balance: A Balance Board
Fitterfirst's Classic Balance Board, $44.95, fitter1.com
Sams suggests testing yourself on a balance board in simple, single-leg positions like parallel passé.
The Number One Essential: A Safe Floor
Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at USC featuring a Harlequin WoodSpring® basketweave system, photo by Ema Peter
The most essential tool for keeping dancers' bodies healthy is arguably a sprung floor. "The shock absorption helps minimize compressive forces that go through your joints when landing from jumps," explains Sams.
When you're dancing on a floor that doesn't have any give, your ankles, knees, hips and back end up taking the brunt of the impact, which can open the door to injuries. "Even after taking one class on a concrete floor, dancers will come home with sore muscles and achy joints," says Sams.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.