Advice for Dancers
I’m concerned about a dancer in my company who uses drugs and alcohol. Management has asked him to go into rehab. He admitted he was struggling and entered a program. How can I help? We used to be friends before he had these problems. Can you tell me why this happens?
New York, NY
Be supportive. Let him know that you care and make a point of listening rather than giving advice. There’s no simple answer for why this happens to one person rather than another. Substance abuse is complex, involving both genetic and environmental factors. Abstinence requires treatment and ongoing support. In contrast, many smokers (smoking is also highly addictive) often respond well to a nicotine patch or gum. Log on to The Do It Now Foundation www.doitnow.org/pages/pubhub.html) to get more insight into the challenges your friend is facing. Overcoming addiction means moving past denial and navigating the stages of change. Your friend has already taken several important steps toward regaining his life and it’s great that you want to help him to continue.www.doitnow.org/pages/pubhub.html) to get more insight into the challenges your friend is facing. Overcoming addiction means moving past denial and navigating the stages of change. Your friend has already taken several important steps toward regaining his life and it’s great that you want to help him to continue.
I read in your book that having fun with friends can help prevent burnout. That’s the way it used to be for me. These days, each phone call takes an hour of my time on top of being a dance teacher, wife, and mother of two teenagers. My friends used to be a joy; now they feel like a job. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I do! You need to balance your time between personal and professional obligations with activities that replenish your resources. When your social life becomes more work than play, ask yourself, “Will my friends abandon me if I only spend 10 minutes on the phone or-gasp!-talk to them every other week?” If the answer is “No,” then it’s time to fill them in on your crazy schedule. Meanwhile, consider taking several 15-minute breaks each day, and getting a weekly treat like a massage. Remember, your ability to give to others depends on taking care of yourself.
I’m a 19-year-old dancer who’s completely overwhelmed by my upcoming knee surgery. I know I am lucky to have the best doctor to repair a torn ligament with damage in the knee cartilage, but no apparent trauma to the ACL. It’s the uncertainty after the surgery that’s killing me. Will I be able to dance again?
Los angeles, CA
It’s good news that you probably haven’t torn your ACL, which stabilizes the knee. It means a better chance of returning to dance after a long rehab. Still, I can understand your concern. Ambiguity is stressful. Think about your needs at this crucial stage. Get referrals for a physical therapist who has experience working with dancers and make sure you have a supportive dance teacher who knows how to work with injuries. If you find yourself struggling during recovery, seek out a psychologist to help you cope. And remember that other interests outside of dance can be a major stress-buster during rehab.
My internist tells me that I have a zinc deficiency. The prescription should take care of the problem, but I can’t help wondering why I have it. I’ve recently become a vegan but make a point to eat balanced meals. Should I be worried?
Salt lake city, UT
Nutritionists tell me that zinc deficiencies often can arise with diets that exclude animal products such as meat, poultry, and fish, especially when you first move to a plant-based diet. Strict vegan menus can interfere with zinc absorption, not to mention iron and calcium.
Signs that you are not getting enough zinc include white spots on your nails, acne, poor resistance to infections, and slow wound healing. Take your medication and make an appointment with a registered dietician who can review your meal plan. Adequate zinc intake can involve moderating the amount of fiber from fruits and vegetables (since these may interfere with mineral absorption) and making sure you get plenty of tofu, seeds, beans, and nuts. Of course, adding milk, eggs, and hard cheese make it easier to meet all of your nutritional needs.
Given that you are a vegan, the ultimate decision is up to you. Still, keep in mind that if you continue to have mineral deficiecies, it can start to interfere with your dancing.
Former New York City Ballet dancer Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., is a psychologist, a wellness consultant for NYCB, and the author of
Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass). She has offered advice to Dance Magazine readers since 1992.