Why World Mental Health Day Matters for Dancers
Today is World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues. It's a serious topic, and not one that is at first glance related to dance. As dancers, we tend to be extremely focused on our physical health, but taking time to acknowledge the mental and emotional challenges of our field is equally important. We've gathered advice on dealing with some of the more common daily struggles of life as a dancer, but if you or someone you know is facing a more serious issue, don't be afraid to reach out to a teacher, mentor or someone you trust about getting help.
Stress. Everyone has to deal with it, but too much of it can have adverse affects on your dancing, such as delaying muscle recovery, sabotaging your healthy diet and creating a higher predisposition to injury. Luckily, there are lots of little things you can do to alleviate stress. Journal, meditate, take a luxurious bath, get outdoors—or, for a quick pick me up, try a few core activation exercises. At the end of the day, taking that little bit of time to manage your stress will pay off with increased focus, heightened creativity and healthier, more enjoyable dancing.
Body image. It's no secret that dancers tend toward perfectionism. When it comes to technique, this trait can serve you extremely well. But since our bodies are our instruments, it can be all too easy to switch from using the mirror as a tool for improvement to seeing only the ways our bodies are less than "ideal." From there, it's a short leap to self-deprecation. In both cases, mindfulness can help: Relegate the mirror to checking your placement, not your waist size, and banish self-deprecating comments from your vocabulary. Try taking a cue from ballerina Sarah Hay, who argues that getting beyond the idea of there being a "perfect body" can not only make you happier as a dancer, but will also enrich the dance world as a whole.
Feeling unmotivated. A life in dance requires consistent, exceptional commitment. And some days you just might not be feeling it. Being aware of how much effort you're putting into class, reminding yourself of your goal(s) and finding inspiration in other dancers or outside the studio can be just what you need. But you should also check in with yourself to see if there are deeper issues at play—a change of environment or a break to recover from burnout might be in order.
Injury recovery. The pain of not being able to dance is frequently just as bad as the physical pain of being injured. Missing out on performances is disappointing, returning to movements that caused your injury can be frightening and your body might not feel like your own. Know that this is normal, and take care of yourself through your recovery by setting achievable goals, giving yourself time to heal, surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family and reminding yourself of life outside of the studio. You'll come back stronger and wiser for it.
Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.
At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.
When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.
"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
When Hollywood needs to build a fantasy world populated with extraordinary creatures, they call Terry Notary.
The former gymnast and circus performer got his start in film in 2000 when Ron Howard asked him to teach the actors how to move like Whos for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notary has since served as a movement choreographer, stunt coordinator and performer via motion capture technology for everything from the Planet of the Apes series to The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame and this summer's The Lion King.
Since opening the Industry Dance Academy with his wife, Rhonda, and partners Maia and Richard Suckle, Notary also offers movement workshops for actors in Los Angeles.