Are You Foam Rolling Wrong?
Dancers lover their foam rollers. But that doesn't mean they always know how to use it correctly. To get the most out of your time on the roller, avoid these nine all-too-common mistakes.
Mistake: Waiting Until It Hurts
Too often, dancers don't get out the roller until they're in pain. But rolling a few minutes every day will make you less prone to injury in the first place. "The roller is best as a preventative tool," says Alicia Ferriere of Finish Line Physical Therapy. "Use it before or after rehearsal if you are feeling tight."
Mistake: Rolling Injured Tissues
Rolling while injured is often not a good idea until fairly late in the recovery process. "Don't roll when there is swelling or a traumatic injury such as a tear," says physical therapist Julie Green, who works with Pennsylvania Ballet dancers. Rolling could make an injury worse, since it's a tool for mobilization and tissues sometimes need to be immobilized to heal. Green recommends seeing your doctor or physical therapist first. "Allow some healing to occur before returning to your roller."
Mistake: Moving Too Quickly
Part of a roller's magic is how it increases blood flow by creating compression when gravity draws your body weight into the foam. "Rolling quickly stays too superficial on your tissues," says Ferriere. "Allow your muscles to relax on the roller, which will create greater compression for the deeper tissue. Think of it as a massage."
Mistake: Staying Too Still
Rollers are certainly great for relaxation, so it's fine to luxuriate over it sometimes and be completely still. But movement is what helps increase blood flow and activates hard-to-get-to areas. So think about moving from side to side, forward and back as you roll. "You need to wiggle more, because the movement is what makes the difference," adds Ferriere.
Mistake: Ignoring the Lats
Dancers spend a good deal of time pulling up, which can lead to chronic tightness in the latissimi dorsi, or "the lats," the large, winglike muscles of the back which wrap around our sides. Ferriere recommends lying on your side with your bottom arm outstretched and the roller perpendicular to your torso. In this position, roll forward and back and side to side along the rib cage to help release the lats.
Mistake: Hitting Bones, Nerves or Kidneys
According to Ferriere, rolling over a bone does nothing for you other than cause pain. It's especially problematic to roll over ankles, knees and the greater trochanter. "And stay away from superficial nerves, like in front of the hip joints and behind the knees," says Green. "You could damage or irritate your nerves. If you feel numbness or tingling, stop immediately." Also avoid rolling along the sides of your lower back—you can bruise your kidneys.
Mistake: Overdoing the IT Bands
The IT bands are the most over-rolled parts of dancers' bodies. Ferriere reminds us that they are not muscles; they're made of fascia and connective tissue. "It's better to roll the soft tissue around the IT band, like the outer quads and the tensor fasciae latae, a thigh muscle on the front and outer side of the hip." If your IT band is chronically tight, consider why. "Often, that means there's a weakness in the hip stabilizers and rotators," says Green.
Mistake: Grabbing the Wrong Roller
Rollers come in varying degrees of hardness these days. Generally speaking, the harder the roller, the more good it can do, unless you are injured or it hurts too much. "If you are avoiding using the roller because of the pain, then try a softer roller," says Ferriere. Or cover a hard roller with a blanket to make it less painful. Green likes ridged rollers that look a bit like tire treads: "It's a way to address adhesions, as those nubs can get in between muscle fibers."
Mistake: Getting Aggressive
Dancers have killer work ethics, but applying them to the roller can backfire. "Rolling out too vigorously or for too long can end up damaging tissue," says Green. "Generally, five minutes per body part should do it."
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.