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Surgery for Better Flexibility? Not Worth It.

My artistic director suggested that I get surgery to fix my average flexibility if I want a company contract. Yet he casts me in nice roles even as an apprentice. I don't know what to do.

—Anonymous


Getting surgery to improve your flexibility does not work and would be a waste of your time and money. My advice is to meet with a dance medicine orthopedist. They can give you a prescription for physical therapy to work on your flexibility and provide you with a letter for your director explaining their approach.

The majority of your flexibility is out of your control and is due largely to the structure of your bones and elasticity of your muscle tissue. Other factors, like sex (females tend to be more flexible than males), age and warmer temperatures (which loosen you up), also affect your range of motion. You can improve your flexibility by a small degree through gentle, regular stretching.

Of course, if you don't feel that your director is looking out for your best interest, it might be time to audition for other companies. If he chose you to be an apprentice and perform choice roles, you must be talented.

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"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

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