Web Exclusive - Ask Amy

I’m often cast in turning roles, which I love. But especially after fouettés, my left knee is sore, and it feels like the muscles are inflamed. Should I be worried? —Claudia

I asked Dr. William Hamilton, a New York City orthopedic surgeon who specializes in dance medicine, to weigh in. He thinks your pain could be caused by a lack of strength because the muscles are being asked to do more than they’re able. This occurs when the muscles in the thigh atrophy, or waste away. Or, it’s possible your knee feels sore from overuse, or because it’s protecting something else inside the knee. His advice? Take three to four days off to rest. Hamilton also recommends investing in Pilates classes for extra strengthening. If it still bothers you after a week, seek treatment from a dance medicine specialist. “A therapist will be able to evaluate your knee to determine what the problem is and give you appropriate treatment,” says Cynthia McGee Laportilla, senior physical therapist and dance medicine department director for the Miami City Ballet.

It’s useful to have one of your teachers evaluate your technique while you turn. “There might be some positive change that you can make in your turning technique that can alleviate some or all of the stress on your knee,” says Laportilla. Also, while you may love a post-class fouetté fest, limit the number of turns you do at a time to avoid irritating your knee. Ice and elevate your leg after class to calm down inflamed muscles. If you’re still having pain after a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor.

 

Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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Everything Nutcracker
Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz as the Sugar Plum Fairy during a stage rehearsal for George Balanchine's Nutcracker. All photography by Arian Molina Soca.

For many professional ballet dancers, Nutcracker means weeks of performances. That usually translates to multiple casts—and important breakout opportunities for those in the junior ranks. On the afternoon of December 13, Pennsylvania Ballet demi-soloist Thays Golz made her debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy along with her Cavalier, corps member Austin Eylar. For the Brazilian-born dancer, who joined PAB in 2018 after two seasons at Houston Ballet, Sugar Plum marks one of her first principal roles.

"I'm really excited," says Golz. PAB artistic director Angel Corella appointed 12 casts of Sugar Plum Fairies over the run's 29 performances. "When I first found out, I was like, 'Pinch me!' I still can't believe it."

We caught up with Golz just before her debut to see how she prepared for her big break.

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Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy US Prix de Ballet

The US Prix de Ballet is taking an unconventional approach to the ballet competition—by putting the competitors' health first. After a successful first year in 2018, the Prix is returning to San Diego, CA this February with an even more comprehensive lineup of wellness workshops and master classes, in addition, of course, to the high-level competition.

Though the talent is top-notch, the environment is friendly, says HARID Conservatory faculty member Victoria Schneider, who serves on US Prix de Ballet's elite panel of judges. "The wellbeing of the dancer is the main focus," says Schneider, who awarded three scholarships to HARID at last year's competition.

US Prix de Ballet was born after its founders traveled to the Japan Grand Prix International Ballet Competition in 2016. "The company ran every aspect of the competition with professionalism, dignity, honor and precision," says founder Neisha Hernandez. "We knew we wanted this level of experience for America."

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