a male dancer jumping straight up with his arms extended directly out

Dance, Autism, and Creating Neurodivergent-Friendly Spaces

How can studio spaces become more inclusive of neurodivergent dancers? Jennifer Milner, Madeleine’s mother and a dance and Pilates instructor, says that it’s important to create space for individual needs. This can be as simple as respecting when dancers don’t feel comfortable being touched, or when they may be having what Milner calls a “red button day”—when stress, anxiety, or other stressors make corrections and critiques difficult to receive.

a group of dancers moving between a long piece of plastic

How Social Anxiety Disorder Can Impact Dancers

Social situations, especially those that are new in some way, can present difficulties for someone with SAD, Hyde says, so attending a new class, joining a company, or attending an audition could be an extra challenge.

a dancer leaning against a mirror

Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterized by an obsession with a perceived defect in physical appearance. “When we talk about body-image issues in dancers, we often talk about ‘I’m fat’ or ‘I don’t like my body’ as this sort of generalized thing—BDD has to be something very specific,” she explains.

a female dancer wearing a grey skirt performing a handstand with her arms and legs slightly bent

How Depression Affects Dancers and When to Seek Help

Daylin Williams, who dances with Wasatch Contemporary Dance Company’s second company, Wasatch II, and teaches dance at Cedar Valley High School in Utah, has struggled with depression since age 13. Dealing with mental illness while pursuing a dance career has presented unique challenges. “There have been days where I was in rehearsal and I had to leave the room and go cry in a changing room,” she says, “because I felt overwhelmed and was struggling with medication changes.”

female dancer wearing all black in coupe hinging back

What You Should Know About Dancing With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Before Hannah Emory was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), she says that, despite her passion for dance, she felt like she just wasn’t cut out for it. After receiving her diagnosis and finding treatment that worked for her, Emory has connected with her dancing in a new way, and is now pursuing a dance degree at the University of Limerick in Ireland, in addition to performing with Ohr Dance Company and developing her own choreographic projects.

male dancer supporting female wearing green romantic tutu

Dancing With OCD

Miami City Ballet principal Steven Loch had been dealing with anxiety and intrusive thoughts since his teens. But when he was a corps member at Pacific Northwest Ballet, they became intense enough to make it difficult for him to manage his daily schedule of company class, rehearsals and performances. These feelings were a result of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a chronic mental health condition that, when left untreated, can become extremely debilitating.

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