Injured? How Crying Can Help the Recovery Process
I've been on a crying jag since I sprained my ankle for the third time. It kills me that I can't dance my favorite roles. I'm also disgusted with myself for being a crybaby.
—Maggy, Philadelphia, PA
You're being too hard on yourself. Crying is a natural, healthy response to sadness and frustration, according to neuroscientist Dr. William Frey II, who's studied the subject for more than 20 years. Why is crying good for you? Among its benefits, it reduces levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and improves your mood by lowering your levels of manganese, a mineral associated with anxiety, irritability and aggression. When you don't judge your tears, it can be a healing experience. (However, sad feelings that continue for two or more weeks may be a sign of a different problem—depression, which can benefit from psychotherapy.)
While your tears are likely nothing to worry about, that's not to say that you should be complacent about a third or, heaven forbid, a fourth ankle sprain. These can be preventable with sufficient rehabilitation! A physical therapist can give you exercises to strengthen the peroneal tendons, which protect the ankle, as the underlying ligaments often get stretched out after a sprain.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.
William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).
As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.