Proof We Need to Talk about Dancers' Mental Health
Is the dance world doing enough for dancers' mental health? Judging from the incredible reaction to Kathleen McGuire's recent story on the topic, it seems that the answer is a resounding "no."
Not only did the piece quickly become one of our most-read, readers shared it hundreds of times, and many reached out to us directly with their own stories. On Facebook, Twitter and through email, several people offered up suggestions for how the dance field could improve. We wanted to share some of the top comments we got—because it's obviously a conversation we all need to have.
Some of you offered smart suggestions:
Boston Ballet School has had a close relationship with a mental health professional for a several years now, in addition to a Nutritionist and Physical Therapist as part of their wellness team; services offered to families of the Boston Ballet School. Her article brings up a very important aspect of a dancer's training, and it should be known that institutions are recognizing this is so.
—Jennifer Markham, Faculty, Boston Ballet School
I had a career as a dancer, at the highest level and for many years have been a psychotherapist, so I too am trying rid the dance world of the mental health stigma. I have a blog, which can be reached via my website, counsellingfordancers.com.
Many related to Kathleen's story on a personal level:
Others pointed out how studio culture can be damaging:
And a few of you offered us hope for the future:
On August 19, 1929, shockwaves were felt throughout the dance world as news spread that impresario Sergei Diaghilev had died. The founder of the Ballets Russes rewrote the course of ballet history as the company toured Europe and the U.S., championing collaborations with modernist composers, artists and designers such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. The company launched the careers of its five principal choreographers: Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.
Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.