What Are Those Weird Boots Dancers Are Wearing?
Many dance companies and physical therapy offices are jumping in on a new trend: recovery boots. But what are they? And, more importantly, how can dancers benefit from them?
The Royal Ballet's Olivia Cowley in a pair of recovery boots
We asked Gregory Retter, clinical director at The Royal Ballet, which recently invested in its own set.
How do recovery boots work?
Through sequential compression; it's an idea that's been around awhile, but the boots make it accessible. They have four chambers—foot, calf, mid-thigh, upper thigh—that gradually fill up with pressure to help flush metabolic waste from the muscles. It's almost like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.
When should dancers use them?
Whenever you need to recover. They're particularly useful after a day of rehearsals before an evening performance to feel fresh again. We also use them to reduce any swelling from injury in the legs.
How long should dancers have them on?
20 to 45 minutes.
Is there anything dancers need to do while wearing them?
These boots are part of a whole recovery strategy. We encourage dancers to sip electrolyte-replacement fluids while lying back in a reclined position in the boots, and to zone out for some psychological recovery, too. We also encourage dancers to wear compression garments afterwards, to maintain the positive effects of compression while they're walking around.
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.