I see a lot while I’m traveling and I get a lot of notes from parents that concern me. A lot of dance injuries (some of them serious) are occurring that do not need to happen. This is a plea to please treat young bodies with the care they deserve. Get the proper training from knowledgable teachers and don’t encourage things on stage or in the studio that the body is not trained to do. You have plenty of time. Don’t rush it.
If you do have a serious injury, don’t jump right into surgery. First seek diagnosis from a physician, physical therapist, and coaches/trainers who understand dance injuries specifically. Based on my experience we need a LOT more education on injury prevention, proper training methodologies, developmentally appropriate choreography, and understanding of kinesthetics and anatomy.
We are the teachers and the directors entrusted with the care of these young bodies and minds. When we don’t know what we need to know, let’s seek out the knowledge from those who do. Our egos should NEVER get in the way of seeking and sharing expertise. Busy professional and personal lives should never be an excuse to not make the health of our dancers the top priority.
Pre-professional dancers are often faced with the choice of continuing their education at a college or university, or jumping directly into a career track (signing with an agent if commercial or joining a company to climb the ranks over time if a concert dancer). It doesn’t always have to be one or the other. Sometimes you are able to dance for a company or for commercial purposes AND be working toward the completion of your studies. But sometimes situations necessitate making a choice. Every dancer needs to make a decision that is right for them.
Regardless of their own particular timeline, I strongly encourage young dancers to continue their studies after high school, even if it means delaying a college education, in some cases for many years. You may or may not major in dance, but continuing your education by obtaining a college degree (and then maybe even going further with a Masters Degree or PhD) opens so many more doors. And when combined with dance performance experience, you are setting yourself up for a future where you can cross between many different sectors of the business.
Knowledge is power. An education is truly an investment for a lifetime. No one will ever take that away from you. There is not a day that I’ve ever regretted the time I spent earning my BA in Dance at the University of Washington. Admittedly, there is also a selfish reason for this advice. The more educated dancers we have in the future, the closer we will come to ensuring a future with artistic integrity and maintaining a strong connection to the rich history of the art form.
Wishing you all of the success that you deserve as you carve out your path to living a meaningful life.
I’ve been reminded again throughout 2015 that if you are unafraid to offer your authentic self out in service to the universe, you will be attracted to those who are ready to receive what you are sharing. And the gifts you receive in return are priceless.
Just like humanity as a whole, dance is at a crossroads.
Preserving tradition while pursuing progress is a challenge demanding our collective intellectual and spiritual energy. Wisdom and fairness must guide us in choosing what we keep and what we change.
Concert dance (ballet, modern, and contemporary) has a rich history full of beauty but steeped in elitism. Unlike its exclusive past, dance is now popular and accessible in ways never imagined, but sometimes at the expense of the art form’s creative integrity and educational value.
The urgent task of our time, as we see it, is embracing the exciting opportunities the modern era presents, preserving and honoring dance history and its trailblazers to inform our contemporary practice, and offering opportunities that maintain a level of excellence available to any person who hungers to participate – all to usher in a sustainable future. This is our vision. This is our purpose. This is our commitment.
This belief drives us to continue building a movement helping to shape the future for current and future generations of dancers and their audiences. We invite you to join the conversation and engage by doing your part. Along with social media, we are excited about the launch of our new website which will connect you to our programs, events, and ideas. The future will be determined by what we do today. Choose and act wisely.