via Burst

Ask Amy: How Do I Come Back to Ballet After a Difficult Illness?

In December, I had pretty much every illness you can imagine: pneumonia, vertigo, flu, stomach virus. I had to drop out of Nutcracker because I kept fainting. Every time I try to come back, I take steps backwards. I've tried doing as much as I can in class, and I still almost pass out. I've lost so much strength, but dance is my life. What should I do? —Kayla


I completely understand that you're worried about falling behind, but right now you need to prioritize your health. "Red flags that there's a more serious problem going on include chest pains, light-headedness and fainting," says Dr. Elizabeth Barchi, a physician with the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Health. You want to be sure there isn't an underlying issue affecting your immune system or cardiovascular system, such as anemia, low blood pressure or relative energy deficiency in sport. RED-S is a new, more comprehensive term for the female athlete triad, in which a dancer isn't taking in enough calories to make up for the amount she's burning through exercise; it can affect your ability to fend off viruses and infections and lead to a host of other health issues.

As for your ballet training,

be patient.

This is not the time to self-diagnose. If you haven't already, make an appointment with a physician. "Start with a primary care doctor or a referral to a primary care sports medicine doctor," says Barchi. By "sports medicine," she doesn't mean an orthopedic surgeon, but an athletic specialist with an education in pediatrics, family medicine or internal medicine. "In addition to other illnesses, they will be familiar with RED-S and how it affects different areas of the body," says Barchi.

As for your ballet training, be patient. "If you're close to fainting every time you dance, from a safety standpoint, you need to get that under control before you return to class," says Barchi. If your doctor says it's okay, try light aerobics, like walking, the stationary bike or the elliptical. Meanwhile, ask your ballet teachers if you can observe class and take notes as you regain your health. Be honest with them about how you're feeling and what your doctor says you should and shouldn't do. This shows that you understand your responsibility to take care of your instrument—an important quality in any dancer.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi Everyone,

These are challenging times. The social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 has likely meant that your regular ballet training has been interrupted, while your performances, competitions—even auditions—have been cancelled. You may be feeling anxious about what the future holds, not only for you but for the dance industry. And that's perfectly understandable.

As you adjust to taking virtual ballet class from your living rooms, we here at Pointe are adjusting to working remotely from our living rooms. We've had to get a little creative, especially as we put our Summer Issue together, but like you we're taking full advantage of modern technology. Sure, it's a little inconvenient sometimes, but we're finding our groove.

And we know that you will, too. We've been utterly inspired by how the dance community has rallied together, from ballet stars giving online classes to companies streaming their performances to the flood of artist resources popping up. We've loved watching you dance from your kitchens. And we want to help keep this spirit alive. That's why Pointe and all of our Dance Media sister publications are working nonstop to produce and cross-post stories to help you navigate this crisis. We're all in this together.

We also want to hear from you! Send us a message on social media, or email me directly at abrandt@dancemedia.com. Tell us how you're doing, send us your ideas and show us your dance moves. Let the collective love we share for our beloved art form spark the light at the end of the tunnel—we will come out the other side soon enough.

Best wishes,

Amy

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