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.
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.
Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.