Helen Phelan is comprehensively certified Pilates instructor who found Pilates after suffering a foot injury while dancing professionally. She specializes in athletically minded, technically, and physically challenging classes with a creative twist. She has studied extensively with the best the city has to offer, with numerous certifications from Erika Bloom Pilates Plus and NYC's premiere studios. Among these certifications, Helen has studied Pilates mat and apparatus, Pilates for the Elderly/Protocols for Osteoporosis, Gait Correction, Pilates for Scoliosis, Pre/Post-Natal Pilates & Diastasis Correction and Low Back Pain. Using this information she created the Pilates Rebels workout and currently teaches at Project by Equinox. Follow her @helenvphelan
It's unsettling to feel unsure if you're allowed to call yourself a dancer. Photo by Taylor Ann Wright/Unsplash
Every dancer knows deep in their heart that dance is only a temporary profession, yet we devote our lives to it anyway. We feel called to it.
I never felt like I had a choice; I could not imagine doing anything else with my life. I started training at 3, and became immediately obsessed, grand jeté-ing down grocery store aisles forevermore. I described myself as a dancer before even thinking of myself as female, bisexual, American, feminist or teacher.
The phrase "I am a dancer," is such a source of masochistic pride that I am not sure it reads to people outside the performing arts community, but it is often the only way we can see ourselves.
Even the most veteran of performers can suffer from nerves before hitting the stage. While most of us feel most at home in front of a crowd once we're there, sometimes the wait to go on can be uneasy.
Breathing with intention is a simple way to calm this stage fright. According to Psychology Today, deep breathing, specifically through the diaphragm, can activate the vagus nerve, and trigger the "relaxation response" of your parasympathetic nervous system and lessen anger, anxiety, stress and even inflammation.
In technique classes, dancers are often told to work from a neutral spine and pelvis. The concept should be simple enough for a somatically-conscious person like a dancer, but it can end up being a confusing challenge.