Liz Hurt is an award-winning Director and Choreographer who specializes in theater and film. Her choreography has been seen in national TV commercials (Pepsi Super Bowl, Clairol Hair Color, SalesForce, NARAL), music videos (Lucius, Magana), and in theater productions at The American Conservatory Theater, Marin Theater Company, West Edge Opera, The Cutting Ball Theater, Shotgun Players, and The Aurora Theater.
Liz's work has won and been nominated for awards including "Best Choreography" by The San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle, "Best Choreography" by Theater Bay Area, Vimeo "Staff Picks," and "Best Dance" by Music Video Underground. She lives in New York City.
As a young dancer, I was taught that falling out of a relevé, even during class, was not an option. I was told to never, ever give up on it. "Die for it," my ballet master used to say.
I used to love, even dream, of being immersed in dance every day. But after 10 years of pushing myself beyond my limits as a full-time dancer, something started happening to me internally. My vision would get blurry, my body felt like I was spinning, and my ears would ring.
I did what I always did—I ignored the warning signs and pushed through it. I never wanted to look weak or incapable as a dancer, even if I was in a lot of pain. Even if I felt like I was going to pass out.
I began feeling this way every day. From what I can remember, that was when I started blacking out while I was dancing.
It doesn't have to be diagnosable by the DSM-5 to be dangerous to your health. Photo by Dominik Martin/Unsplash
When the cat food started smelling good, I knew I had a problem.
I'd always considered eating disorders to be extreme. Someone who never eats. Someone who weighs less than 100 pounds. Someone who gets hospitalized.
My behavior didn't fit the mental health definition of an eating disorder. I ignored it because I didn't know how to articulate it. It took me several years after the cat food smelled good to have the language to describe what was going on.
Liz Tenuto's choreography for the artist-In-residence program at CounterPULSE SF. Photo by Robbie Sweeny
As dancers, we all hop on "the track." We attend class every day at 10 am, we go to summer intensives every year, we regularly show up at audition after audition. It's what we think we need to do to achieve our dreams.
But other things come up—maybe we change or what we want out of life evolves. It is up to us to listen, to see if we can let our plan shift and to be brave enough to veer off track. Otherwise, we may not discover what makes us truly unique.