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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.

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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