Critchlow in Balanchine's "Diamonds." Photo by Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West.
A fresh perspective: Last year, Katie Critchlow went through seven months of recovery for a debilitating ankle sprain, but the process transformed her outlook on cross-training: “You think that doing ballet class every day is enough, but it's not," she says. “Ballet dancers are hypermobile, and in order to execute everything onstage when you're tired and fatigued, you need a lot of strength to back that up."
Ready to run: About two months after her injury, Critchlow began jogging. “I had to start really, really slow on a treadmill." Her ankle sprain had affected her hip, too, causing her to veer in a diagonal until she balanced the alignment in her legs. Now she prefers to run outdoors around Salt Lake City. “It helps mobilize my joints, so I'll either go at the end of a light day or wait for the weekend."
Larsen in The Nutcracker. Photo by Jana Carson, Courtesy OKC Ballet.
In her first season as a corps member with Oklahoma City Ballet, Devin Larsen stood among the 17 dancers who made the audience gasp as the curtain came up on Balanchine's Serenade. But her path to getting there would make anyone gasp.
At age 3, Larsen was diagnosed with epilepsy. She averaged 20 complex partial seizures per day, which eventually turned into the more serious kind, generalized tonic seizures, where she would fall and completely lose consciousness. “Your brain just shuts down," she says.
Photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe. Modeled by Hannah Seiden.
Photographed by Nathan Sayers, modeled by Hannah Seiden.
As choreography becomes increasingly demanding, dancers must adjust their flexibility and strength to match. One major aspect of 21st-century ballet is a pliable back. Michelle Rodriguez, MPT, OCS, CMPT, founder and director of Manhattan Physio Group, and her colleague Sarah Walker, DPT, recommend these exercises to build a balance of fluidity and support in the spine. If you dream of dancing work by the likes of William Forsythe and Wayne McGregor, these are for you.
Is there a healthy way to lose weight? After rehearsing all day, more exercise pushes me toward exhaustion. Help! —Alyssa
This is tricky—the ballet industry puts enormous pressure on dancers to be thin. That can lead some to go to drastic, unhealthy measures to lose weight, whether they need to or not. Adding low-impact cardio or interval training to your routine can help, but it sounds like extra workouts might put you at risk of injury with your current schedule.
Leaping into the New Year: Isabella Boylston, photo by Gene Schiavone
Love it or hate it, this is the time of year when people start talking about New Year's Resolutions. While it's exciting to think about what you want to work on in 2017, it can also feel daunting—especially because we often set unrealistic goals for ourselves, and wind up frustrated a few months in. Breaking resolutions down into small, attainable steps can help keep you motivated, and seeing positive results. To get you started, we pulled together a few tips for tackling some common dance-related goals.
Ballet West in "Waltz of the Flowers." Photo by Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West.
Chances are, you're a couple weeks into your Nutcracker run, and the exhaustion is starting to set in. With so many performances, your joints and muscles have less time to recover between shows, and you have less time to wind down and relax. For those days that you aren't sure your body and mind can take one more performance, try these tips to fight fatigue and soreness:
Take a nap: A short power nap can give you a quick burst of energy before you get ready to take the stage. Try finding a quiet place to rest between your matinee and evening performances.
Long days, late nights, chilly weather and overworked bodies make the perfect recipe for disaster during Nutcracker season. I'll never forget burning up with a fever backstage in my Arabian costume, or the time when a flu outbreak caused major casualties in our Snow and Flower corps. Staying well requires a combination of nutrition, hydration and sleep—not to mention preparedness and discipline.
Tulsa Ballet's Jennifer Grace. Photo Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.
Six pros reveal their most creative tricks for making it through everyone's favorite holiday marathon.
Alana Griffith: Artist, Milwaukee Ballet
Griffith in rehearsal for Milwaukee Ballet's "Waltz of the Flowers." Photo by Timothy O'Donnell, Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet.
Favorite role: Clara
"Clara was my first soloist role and the first role I did where my character danced through the entire ballet. I liked playing with different ways of making her sweet and lovable or bratty and funny. Switching from Clara to the corps to divertissements makes the rehearsal process exciting and challenging."
Night owls may face their own unique challenges (San Francisco Ballet's Isabella DeVivo, photo via @ballerinaproject_)
If you identify as a "night owl," then you're probably all too familiar with the feeling of running late. Maybe you've been trying to get into an early-morning cross-training routine for months, but when the alarm goes off, the struggle becomes all too real. Or you have no trouble performing until late at night, but find yourself sluggish during your morning rehearsals. Perhaps you're constantly scrambling to get to your first class on time, while others cheerfully boast that they've already been up for hours at the start of barre.
Most of the time, people will just tell you that you should be going to bed earlier, and getting more sleep per night. While this is good advice, it may not tell the whole story. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that there really might be differences in the way night owls and early risers are "wired"—and that society tends to cater to the morning people.
Should I turn down an apprenticeship to finish my dance degree, or should I put my education on pause? —Ashleigh
Congratulations on receiving an apprenticeship offer! They don't come every day. If you think you're ready for company life, and will be full of regrets if you turn the offer down, you can always resume school later. However, make sure you know what the position entails.
Not all apprenticeships are paid, and there's no guarantee that you'll be promoted to the company's corps de ballet at season's end. Are you comfortable entering the dance world without the security of a college degree? And are you motivated enough to return to school if you put your education on pause now?
As dancers, you know how rewarding creative endeavors can be—but you also know how tremendously challenging they are. Sometimes we just don't feel inspired, or new ideas seem out of reach.
Creativity is complicated: Earlier this month, researchers at Kent University and Sussex University identified 14 different components that make up the creative process, like persistence and being able to deal with uncertainty. Other studies have noted that it can take both positive and negative emotions to help creativity thrive—feelings of frustration can drive us to fix problems or complete daunting tasks.