This story originally appeared in the October/November 2015 issue of Pointe.
I'm recovering from surgery on my ankle, and I'm feeling intimidated about getting back into the studio. How do I get over feeling like I'm starting at square one? —Julia
Coming back from an injury is one of the scariest and most humbling experiences a dancer can face. But it's also an opportunity. When else do you have the luxury to slow down and intricately analyze your technique? I had two major injuries during my career, and both times I came back stronger because I had time to correct issues with my alignment, address long-standing bad habits and strengthen weaknesses. That said, coming back to class was hard. It will feel strange and you'll get very frustrated at times—which is perfectly valid! But try to stay focused on your ultimate goal, which is to fully recover and get back onstage. You can't do that without going to class, so you'll have to understand that things will be different for a while.
The fact is, you are starting from square one—and that's okay! Accept your limitations seriously and work within them. You may feel pressure to do more than you should (especially around your uninjured colleagues), so find a place at the barre where you can drown everything out and feel comfortable working at your own pace. And remember—baby steps. Better to work slowly and safely than to push too hard, compensate and risk re-injuring yourself.
Finally, try not to assume that your colleagues are judging you. They know you're injured—if anything, they'll be your biggest cheerleaders. Need a little inspiration? Click here to read New York City Ballet principal Jennie Somogyi's personal story of injury recovery.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.