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Training Without Spraining

As dancers we depend on strong feet and ankles that won’t give out when we need them most. Many of us are too familiar with the feeling of landing a jump or coming out of a turn just slightly wrong and spraining an ankle. But a few easy preventative measures can help you avoid these dreaded mishaps, and they’ll probably be the most worthwhile exercises you do all day. Sprains are usually the result of tight calves and a weak tibialis anterior, the muscle next to the front of the shin. A few basic ankle rolls—just circling your foot 20–40 times in each direction, trying to hit every point on the circle—can bring your tibialis into balance and increase the stability of the joint. Rolling your calves over a foam roller can also help by relieving tension. Seems too basic to be true, but these steps before class will make a huge difference right away, so you can trust your ankles to carry you through the toughest of days.

The Conversation
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)

Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.

Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.

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Health & Body
Getty Images

I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.

I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.

That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?

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