|Staying on Pointe:
Avoiding Dance Career Risks and Dangers
|Welcome to my website. I created it because of both my personal interest in the topic and for a school project which is required if I want to ever graduate. Hopefully this site will serve as a good informative source for all those dancer's out there who are looking for help in how to keep themselves safe. My site contains a vast amount of information on parts of the dancer's body that are susceptible to injury. If there is something not included that you would like to learn about, please feel free to email me and I will try to add it if I can. Thanks for your interest, time, and your love of ballet.|
| Page Contents
Home Page: (you're here!) Introduction information
Page 1: Bone Injuries
Page 2: Common injuries
Page 3: Dieting/Eating and Sleeping/Resting
Page 4: Pointe Shoes
Page 5: Personal encounters with injuries
Page 6: Conclusion
Page 7: References Cited
| Professional and recreational dancers face many risks of injuries when performing and practicing their artistic talent. There are important ways in which a dancer may avoid these injuries, and if they do occur, there are numerous ways in which to deal with them. Possible injuries range from a mere pulled muscle to broken bones and fractures. Healthy dieting, eating habits, and ample amounts of rest are major categories that dancers need to be aware of in order to stay well (Nagrin 42-56). A hard floor, a mis-fitted shoe, a bad partner, or a tired body may all cause potential career threatening injuries (Clifford). Knowing how to treat one?s body and being aware of one?s personal limitations are crucial to dancers who dance just for fun and exercise as well as for those who are dancing professionally. Dancing careers are constantly at risk. Dancing, walking, running, and various other activities can all be fatal to a dancing career. Precious careers can be ended just by slipping on wet pavement, falling on a hard surface, or fracturing a bone. To a dancer, even a fracture is career threatening because the period of time needed to fulfill correct healing is extremely vital. If a dancer does not allow sufficient timefor the aliment to heal, then the dancer might never be able to perform again (Nagrin 119-133).
Even a dancer who is merely exercising is capable of pushing himself too hard or too far. It is obvious that the professional and long-term dancer is more prone to injuries than is a dancer who merely dances for a short while. Oftentimes a professional dancer wants to become the ?prima ballerina?, the main female dancer in the company, so they push herself to the limit, thereby endangering her career. Adequate rest is absolutely necessary for dancers to perform at their best, as it is with most other sports and physical activities (Nagrin 42-46). Without enough rest and sleep, a dancer?s body is not only unable to perform at its best, but it is also more prone to career-damaging injuries.
Stretching before and after class, doing a few jumps, and getting the blood flowing and the muscles warmed up are also crucial for the dancer to avoid injuries while dancing. By doing these things, a dancer enables his/her body to become more willing and more able to perform the task at hand. Stretching reduces the risk of pulling muscles and joints further than the body normally allows them to go. In order to get blood flowing throughout the body, a dancer can run around the dance floor or do a few jumps in the air. While this may look different and strange to outside observers, the dancer will have dramatically reduced their body?s risk of physical injury (Clifford).
Through dancing for the past twelve years, I have had enough time to learn the moves my body is able to do and how far my body can go. In the summer of 2001, I traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, to attend a dance program with the well-known Columbia City Ballet. This summer program enabled me to further understand how important safety in dance really is. My days consisted of being up every morning by 6:30am, having eaten a relatively healthy breakfast in the University of South Carolina?s cafeteria, and being in the studio ready for another hard day by 7:45am. We danced from about 8:00am until 5:30pm the first two weeks, and on the last week, from 8:00am until around 10:30pm. The days were long and hard to manage, but they taught me lessons on safe dancing that I will never forget. This summer camp (partially inspiring my senior project topic) was hosted by the director of Columbia City Ballet, a famous professional dancer now in his late forty?s, William Starrett. Starrett lived a dance career filled with a well-known reputation and fame, but Starrett?s career went out with a bang. He underwent double hip replacement surgery due to ?forcing his turnout?, or causing excessive stress to his hips by forcing them to rotate outward to a large extent. Although Starrett?s hips are not his original ones, he still never ceased to amaze me and the other twenty-some attendants at the program with his abilities and talents in the art. After three non-stop weeks of forcing turnout, bruised toenails, and blisters practically encompassing both my feet, I was completely aware of my need to sleep and rest, my need for a healthy diet, and my need to be extremely careful with every move I make whether it is on the dance floor or elsewhere.
The lack of adequate sleep and/or rest in between practices and performances can cause horrible injuries to a dancer?s body and career. Before jumping into a partner?s arms or doing four pirouettes in a row, a dancer should always warm up. When she finishes her activities, she should always allow for a cool-down period. These actions could reduce the body?s risk of injury. A dancer?s career requires proper preparation, thorough knowledge of the art, and an overall state of mind and body to complete the job without injury (Nagrin 42-46).