Advice for Dancers: Dealing with a Negative Partner

July 31, 2013



How do I deal with my partner’s bad attitude? He hates one of our choreographers and mutters under his breath whenever we rehearse. I’m afraid this will reflect badly on me. I don’t want to come across as negative.

—Bad Partner, NYC


As long as you project enthusiasm, there’s no need to worry. I doubt the choreographer and artistic management are unaware of his attitude problem. Of course, working with him can be distracting. Try to ignore his muttering and focus on your dancing. He may change his tune if it doesn’t get a reaction. I assume that, fortunately, you don’t have to dance with him in every ballet. At least I hope not.



I feel like I’m falling apart! I’m exhausted, fat, depressed, and look terrible (big, puffy eyes). Even my breasts hurt around my monthly cycle. The last straw was when I noticed my hair falling out and I burst into tears. Is it because I took on too many dancing gigs? I know I work too hard, but this is ridiculous. Maybe I should retire. I’m 33 but feel like I’m pushing 50.

—Stacey, Atlanta, GA


How about getting a medical checkup first before retiring? To my knowledge, although overwork can cause fatigue, it’s also associated with burnout and injuries—not sore breasts, weight gain, or your other symptoms. In fact, most of your complaints are common in hypothyroidism, but only your doctor will know if that’s what’s wrong after doing some tests. Underactive thyroids are becoming an increasing concern as health-conscious Americans restrict iodized table salt in order to protect their hearts or, in the case of dancers, to reduce bloat. In the process, you may inadvertently create an iodine deficiency, since the body doesn’t make this nutrient, and it’s needed by the thyroid to produce hormones. Sea salt and many processed foods do not contain iodine, but cow’s milk, egg yolks, and saltwater fish are excellent sources, along with sea vegetables like kelp and nori (the dried seaweed used for sushi). Then, there are iodine supplements, although not all are safe to use. The first step is to have your doctor rule out any underlying health problems. A urine test will detect an iodine deficiency, which can usually be corrected through diet. A blood test will detect an underactive thyroid, which may require a medication like Synthroid. In this case, new research suggests this drug is most effective when taken at night, contrary to routine recommendations.



Last month I injured my back lifting a girl in dance class, and I went to see an orthopedic specialist who prescribed physical therapy. The person he sent me to had DPT after her name and was really knowledgeable. Are physical therapists with only a master’s degree (MPT) inferior? 

—Glenn, Bronx, NY


It depends on the provider. There are many highly qualified physical therapists with only a master’s degree (MPT). That said, a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree is now being recommended in most programs, because it addresses additional components such as pharmacology, radiology, and differential diagnosis. This helps the physical therapist to screen for other health concerns that may arise during treatment and require a referral to another healthcare provider (usually back to the same physician). Yet there are limitations even with a DPT. No physical therapist can make a medical diagnosis such as “Parkinson’s disease,” only a functional one like “gait abnormality.” Also, most health insurance companies require a physician’s prescription before they provide financial reimbursement for physical therapy. In New York State, after the first 10 visits to a PT or a month of treatment, you need a prescription for further access to physical therapy—whether or not you pay for it out of pocket. You were smart to see your orthopedist first. Although physical therapy can restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and limit or prevent physical disability, the best treatment for dancers typically involves a team approach. As for the PT degree, experience and knowledge are both necessary.


Send your questions to:


Dr. Linda Hamilton

2000 Broadway, PH2C

New York, NY 10023

e-mail: advicefordancers