Inside Dancers' Love-Hate Relationships with their Feet
In all of their swollen and blistered glory, feet are dancers' prized possessions. It doesn't matter whether you treasure your arches, wince at your bunions or wish you could trade the whole kit in for a new pair—you can't help but take pride in the instrument that literally supports you from the ground up. Each foot contains the intricate muscles needed to finish a line, travel the length of a stage, soar through the air with abandon and carry you home after a long day of dancing.
Lloyd Knight, principal at Martha Graham Dance Company
"My feet have been through a lot, and their scars show the work I've done so far as a dancer. We work so much with bare feet in Graham that I have a lot of marley burns, cuts and splits. It's like a badge of honor."
Kathryn Boren, corps de ballet dancer at American Ballet Theatre
"My feet have become my business card. Really, I'm defined by them. I can pick myself out of blurry rehearsal footage because I can recognize my arches. My right arch is better than my left, which is a complex I've had to deal with my whole life."
Soledad Barrio, star of Noche Flamenca
"I give messages with my feet to the guitarists and singers to advise them on when to start and when to stop. There is a very clear vocabulary."
Demi Remick, tap dancer for Postmodern Jukebox and Caleb Teicher & Company
"My feet get injured a lot, so I don't always trust them. As a tap dancer, I need relaxed ankles, and sprains affect that. I have to release them even though I'm scared. But my feet are smarter than I think. I dance on a four-by-four board on tour and my feet memorize the space and what's possible within it."
I hate asking for money. I am tired of feeling like we, as dance practitioners, are constantly begging for every morsel of sustenance. We are often seen as the poor stepchildren of the arts, usually thought of as having nothing tangible to sell.
I have to admit, I've had a wonderful career. I've danced with The Royal Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet, done a stint on the West End in An American in Paris, played the Snow Cavalier in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms with Misty Copeland, and will soon be performing as Older Billy in the Australian tour of Billy Elliot: The Musical.
How did I get in this position? Through the eight international ballet competitions I've entered.
If you want to travel the world performing and doing what you love, competitions are your ticket to finding the freedom to dance wherever you want to go.
By the Sunday evening of a long convention weekend, you can expect to be thoroughly exhausted and a little sore. But you shouldn't leave the hotel ballroom actually hurt. Although conventions can be filled with magical opportunities, the potential for injury is higher than usual.
Keep your body safe: Watch out for these four common hazards.