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August 2017

What Directors Really Think of Ballet
Dancers Going to College

By Sarah Wroth, Dance Magazine
Foreword by Erica Nelson, Director of Dance Medicine


A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article online and wanted to share it with you all. In a few days, many of you will likely be heading off to college. I hope a lot of you will be majoring or minoring in dance, or at least incorporating dance into your studies in some form. Dancers have a special challenge to face when deciding on their next move after high school.

As dancers, our performing careers can be short-lived, and it can be hard to decide to put our career on hold to get a degree. Some might have concerns that they will fall behind other dancers their age who go straight into companies. I personally found that getting a degree in dance was extremely beneficial to my current dance career. The education and training I received prepared me for so much more than I was ready for straight out of high school. I also strongly believe that with the right tools, you can make a successful dance career for yourself at any age.

The article below will give you some insight into what directors think about college dance. Whatever path you choose, know that dance can always be a part of your life. – Erica

In the ballet world, the phrase “going to college” is sometimes regarded as the musings of a dancer who’s not really serious about their craft. Although schools like Juilliard and Bennington College have made degrees acceptable for modern dancers for decades, the competitive ballet world (which often follows a philosophy of “the younger the better”) tends to discourage higher education.

But some ballet students just don’t feel physically or emotionally ready to join a professional company at age 18, and others simply don’t want to miss out on the college experience. So they choose to pursue an undergraduate dance degree to continue their ballet training in an academic atmosphere. However, dancers need to understand how this decision will play out once they graduate. What do artistic directors—most of whom never chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree themselves—think about this path? Do they see college as a four-year detour? Or have they come to appreciate the knowledge and experience dancers can obtain from this once unheard-of path to a ballet future?

The Benefits Graduates Bring

Setting yourself apart from the crowd is an essential part of getting that first job in a ballet company. Having demonstrated the ability to graduate with a degree while maintaining a high performance quality can be a fantastic way to get your foot in the door. “Knowing a dancer has that deeper arts education can make a difference—it sways in a positive way,” says Devon Carney, artistic director of Kansas City Ballet, where a handful of dancers hold degrees from schools like Indiana University. “Graduates are personally and artistically more level-headed. They have a better ability to deal with problems, and that maturity is something I highly value in a dancer.”

College dancers often graduate with life skills that students from a purely dance-oriented environment might not have gained. Often, they can better communicate both inside and outside of the studio, and they know how to shift subjects and organize a tight schedule as quickly as possible. By taking courses like ballet history, anatomy, nutrition, psychology, public speaking and piano, students become not only well-rounded employees, but assets to the ballet world.

“Dancers who have given themselves the opportunity to explore other sides of life have also given themselves the opportunity to understand that the world is bigger than the studio and stage,” says Victoria Morgan, artistic director and CEO of Cincinnati Ballet. She earned both a BFA and an MFA in ballet from the University of Utah, and says she likes seeing a degree on a dancer’s resumé. “It is confidence-building to know that there are options, and that confidence shows onstage.”

The Challenges Undergrads Face

The harsh truth is that obtaining a job in a professional ballet company is far from a guarantee. “Most programs sell a dream that they know they can’t deliver,” cautions Mikko Nissinen, artistic director of Boston Ballet, where hiring college graduates is far from common. He notes that a resumé listing connections and repertoire performed at school may provide entry to the audition studio, but dancers then have to prove their technical and artistic abilities.

Many people in the ballet world still view most BFA programs as too dissimilar from the professional realm to be truly competitive. The insulated bubble of campus life can mean students don’t realize they’re not performing at a high enough level.

“Students need more exposure to the realities of what the professional world requires—they have to understand that if you want to get a job, there is no optional class, you have to be serious, show up day in and day out and know all your material,” says Carney. In a company, you would lose your job for frequently missing rehearsals or eating in class, but in some dance departments, undergraduates may be allowed to slip in their professionalism.

Some directors feel the hardest part of attending college can be the many distractions, like parties, all-night study sessions, excessive drinking and a disregard for the basic human need to sleep. “Dancers must keep their bodies healthy and strong,” says Julie Kent, artistic director of The Washington Ballet. “A lot of times the college lifestyle renders proper nutrition difficult.”

Even with limited dining-hall options and little time for cross-training, students must maintain their physical form in the same way a professional would. However, it is by no means impossible to keep up the daily intensity required to stay in shape: One of Kent’s first hires after arriving at TWB was EunWon Lee, who earned a BFA from Korea National University of Arts in Seoul.

The key is staying passionate and competitive. If an undergrad wants a career in the professional ballet world, it is up to them to find an institution that provides the tools necessary to train at the level the industry requires, and then take advantage of every resource and opportunity to improve. College may not be the most common pathway to a professional ballet career, but it has all the potential in the world to develop artists who can change the art form for the better.


July 2017

Swimming For Dancers
By Erica Nelson, Director of Dance Medicine

One of the best parts of summer is getting to relax by the pool or beach. Swimming is a great way to cool down in the hot summer months, but did you know that it also makes for a great cross-conditioning program for dancers? Read below to learn about some of the benefits of swimming and how to add it to your summer fitness routine!

Swimming offers many benefits for dancers. It builds cardiovascular endurance, strengthens the upper and lower body, and reduces back pain and stress. Many professional dancers use swimming as part of their rehab for injuries. Swimming is very low impact on the joints, but the resistance against the water is great for building strength in the muscles.Technique
Before you dive into the pool, make sure to practice your technique. Read up on the different stroke techniques, and try to switch between strokes as you do laps. Different stroke styles offer different benefits. Freestyle (front crawl) emphasizes the spiral movement. Backstroke opens the chest and activates the spine and pecs. Breaststroke activates the back extensor muscles, which help with your cambré backwards.

Last month we talked about running as a good way to increase cardiovascular endurance and stay in shape over the summer. Running is a great form of exercise, but the impact can be hard on some dancers’ joints. With swimming, you can get the same increased cardiovascular challenge, but without the stress on the joints. Swimming will improve your stamina and power and the water’s resistance will also help to tone muscles.

Back Pain
A recent study from Japan suggests that an aquatic exercise program of swimming and walking in a pool reduced low-back pain. Working against the water strengthens core muscles, which helps take the pressure off the back. The front crawl or freestyle stroke is great for back pain because it works on muscle coordination with the opposite arm and leg while keeping the abs and back engaged. Swimming also offers a new form of stretching that dancers are not usually exposed to. As the reach of your arm travels through the body into the pelvis and out the legs, it creates a chain reaction of lengthening. Flexibility is worked through this lengthening and rotation of the body in a zero gravity environment.

Stress Relief
Swimming can have a very meditative aspect to it. The body naturally floats, which gives your muscles and joints a chance to totally relax. The silence you find swimming underwater offers a feeling of total isolation and peace. Next we’ll talk about more in depth about how to exercise in the pool, but keep in mind that sometimes the best thing for a tired body is to gently float in the water with zero effort, just giving your mind and body a break.

Swimming Exercises
Swimming laps can give a dancer a good cardiovascular workout. Ideally, you should get 150 minutes of cardio each week. If you get bored with freestyle, throw in a few laps of other stroke styles, such as backstroke, butterfly or breaststroke. Also, don’t feel like you have to get all your cardio from swimming. Swim a few times a week and go for a brisk walk or jump on the elliptical the other days.Drills
To give your legs a more intense workout while still improving your cardiovascular endurance, grab a kickboard. The kickboard will keep you afloat while you concentrate on your legs. Dancers tend to have flexible ankles, making them naturals at swimming kicks. Our strong external rotators that we use for turnout come in handy during breaststroke kicks. As dancers, we also want to have strong shoulders and backs, but avoid overworking your upper half with too many arm drills.Cardio
Swimming is non-weight bearing. The water supports your body weight, meaning you won’t get any of the bone-building benefits of other types of physical activity. However, you get plenty of that in a regular dance class. Keep your swimming to a recreational level, and don’t overdo the laps or drills. You want to keep your arms and back toned, not overdeveloped. Use swimming as a way to get your heart rate and endurance up, and less as a way to build muscle.

Water Ballet
The water offers a lot of buoyancy and resistance, which is perfect for practicing the basics of ballet. Développés on one leg challenge the muscles in your supporting leg and your core as you try to keep your balance. If you need to, you can use the side of the pool as a barre. Beats are also great to practice in the pool. The water resistance will give you more time to do the beats before your feet land on the bottom of the pool, and it will also make your inner thighs work harder than usual to cross in that nice 5th position. If the water comes up to your shoulders, you can work on your port de bras. Moving your arms in the water engages your back muscles and helps you feel the sensation of the movement coming from your back.

One of my favorite books is Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance by Eric Franklin. The Franklin Method uses imagery to teach dynamic alignment and movement with efficiency and coordination. In his book, Franklin often uses images of water to illustrate the movement or relaxation of certain joints and muscles. See some examples below and instead of just imagining the feeling of the water moving your body, get in the pool and try it out. Then, see how you can translate and incorporate what you felt in the water to your regular dance class.

Get some lift for your pelvis by imagining your femur as buoys gently pushing upward against your hip sockets.

Imagine the muscles of your neck and shoulders as a cascade of water flowing down into your arms.

*Always remember to swim with proper supervision*


June 2017

Should Dancers Run?
By Matthew Wyon, PhD, President of IADMS, Professor of Dance Science at Wolverhampton University (UK)

For years dancers have been told “don’t run!” as it will give you shin splints, work the wrong muscles, make you inflexible, etc. Deborah Bull, ex-principal at the Royal Ballet, UK was the first world-class dancer to openly admit to running, and swore by its benefits.

To answer some of the concerns:

Yes, running can give you shin splints, but so can dancing. To reduce the chance of getting shin splints start to run during a holiday period, start gradually and wear good running shoes and ideally don’t run on roads or sidewalks straight away.

Yes, it does work different muscles from dancing but this is good. Dancing often causes a muscle imbalance between the internal and external hip rotators, with the latter becoming much stronger because of the time spent turning out; this imbalance can lead to injury. Running works in the internal rotators and therefore helps to improve this balance. Running is a technique as well and you need to make sure you have good alignment and are not running turned out. Just as with dance, running technique starts to go astray when you are tired, that is why it is important to start slowly and build up distance and speed gradually.

(Editor’s note: But remember that if you are doing supplemental training outside of the dance class – such as Pilates, etc. – to address those dance-caused imbalances, then you are less likely to have them, and thus in better condition to do an outside activity like running).

Yes running can make you inflexible, in fact some of the most inflexible people are runners – but that is because runners just don’t stretch!

What are the benefits to running?

  • Compared to other aerobic training styles there is a better cross-over to dance. This means it uses more of the same muscles in similar action patterns than rowing, cycling or swimming for instance.
  • You will get (aerobically) fitter faster with running than other training methods, as you are having to carry your own weight and aren’t sitting down. So you don’t have to run for as long as you would need to cycle to get the same benefits – quality rather than quantity.
  • You will jump higher! Running develops our jumping muscles and helps us to utilize the elastic energy in our muscles and tendons.
How do I start?
  • Slowly! Buy some running shoes, don’t just use your own sneakers! Look for actual running shoes rather than fashion sneakers – they don’t have to cost a fortune.
  • Start during the holidays, warm up first and then start with gentle “interval training” – jog for a minute, walk for a minute for 20 minutes, stretch afterwards. Have a rest day the next day. Over the next few weeks gradually increase the jog time and decrease the walk time but keep to 20 minutes total.
How do I progress?
After you can jog for 20 minutes, use the same principles to start to increase your speed. You don’t need to increase the time you spend running, just start to run slightly faster using the interval method. So jog 1-minute, run slightly faster for 1-minute and repeat.Recovery
  • Always stretch afterwards.
  • Try and have a rest day after a run.
  • When you are doing lots of jumping during dance don’t run as much, maybe just cut back to once a week.
I know it might be hard to comprehend, but running can be fun. One day you will go out and suddenly enjoy the experience of running outside, in the fresh air – and your body enjoys it too!

May 2017

Dance Recital Rescue
By Erica Nelson, Director of Dance Medicine

It’s that time of the year again! Recital season! It’s time to show off what you’ve been working hard on all year! This time of year can be stressful for students, parents, and dance teachers alike! But lucky for you, we’ve got some tips to get you through this busy time of year.

Dealing with Stress

Talk With Friends
One of the fastest ways to reduce anxiety and lower your heart rate is to talk to a friend. Having a light conversation can help distract you from overthinking and overreacting to the stress you might encounter at your dance recital. Talking to someone you know and trust can make you feel safe and comfortable, allowing you to relax and forget your pre-stage jitters. Even just seeing a warm smile or getting a hug can help your body subconsciously relax!
Mediate and Walk
Meditating and walking is a fast easy way to distract yourself from stressful events, focus on the present, lower your blood pressure and gain clarity before taking the stage. A few minutes before your performance, inhale and take a few steps, then exhale and take a few more. Keep repeating this, adding a few more steps each time. Regulating your breath and focusing on a simple task like this is one of the easiest ways to reduce your stress and steady your heart rate. You can also use one of the many meditation apps available on your phone’s app store.Step Outside
If being stuck inside watching everyone get ready is making you overwhelmed, step outside for a moment. Getting some fresh air can help you relax, feel calm and allow you to forget about any small worries. You can also pack some lavender oil for some stress relief aromatherapy! Dab a little on your wrists, behind your ears, or on your chest and let the scent relax you!Listen to calming music
Listen to some of your favorite music, or music with a calm, relaxing melody. Find a quiet place away from everyone and drift away for a few minutes.Prepare!
There is always going to be stress at dance recitals, but the more you prepare ahead of time, the more problems you can avoid down the line! One of the major problems that can throw a dancer over the edge is costume issues. There could be runs in tights or broken leotard straps, etc. Be prepared with a recital survival kit stocked with extra tights, shoelaces, bra straps, double-sided tape, multipurpose tools, etc. Any issues should be addressed by dress rehearsal. Teach dancers to keep dancing through any minor problems like fallen hairpieces and how to pick them up without distracting from the performance. Always have dancers wear a nude leotard under their costumes in case of any costume malfunctions.

What to Eat Before the Recital

            To perform your best, you’ll need to eat your best! The night before you want to eat lean protein, healthy carbs, veggies and plenty of water! For protein, try some baked salmon or other fish filet, grilled chicken breast, or steak. For carbs, try brown rice or potato salad. Steamed and buttered broccoli is great for veggies, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados.

For the day of your performance the best thing to do is to eat small meals throughout the day, starting with a substantial breakfast to get your mind and body fueled and ready to go! Some breakfast options include oatmeal with fruit, plain greek yogurt, whole grain toast with peanut butter, or a fruit smoothie. For snacks throughout the day, try a banana with 1-2 tbsp peanut butter, hardboiled eggs or string cheese with whole grain or rice crackers. Other options include rice cakes with nut butter and fruit, pre-made bar or oatrolls with fruit, dates, nuts or whole grains, popcorn, pumpkin seeds, pretzels, or some dried fruit trail mix. Another great snack that is a good pick-me up is dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is known for its stress relieving properties, making it a great pre-show snack. It is also lower in sugar, which can make you feel more anxious.

Lastly, you want to stay hydrated and re-hydrate after the performance. Great options for fluids include coconut water which helps replenish electrolytes, dark chocolate almond milk, or coconut milk.

Merde on your shows everybody and happy recital season!


April 2017

Dancing In The Dark – Dancers Need Vitamin D
By Matthew Wyon, PhD, Professor in Dance Science

Dancers spend so much time indoors, with classes / rehearsals / performances, that they get little exposure to sunlight. Even when they live in sunny climates they don’t get enough sun exposure on their skin, because we automatically cover-up with sunblock. Direct sunlight is the main way we can increase vitamin D levels in our body. We can get the vitamin from our diet, through foods such as fortified cereals, oily fish and diary – but for the majority of us this is not enough to meet our needs. This has left vast numbers of people, including dancers, deficient in vitamin D.

Why is vitamin D important? It used to be known as the “bone hormone”, important for bone growth and development, but new research has shown that it is involved in lots of other important systems in the body, including the immune system.  It also plays a part in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis.

All of this is important for everyone, dancers included —but in addition, recent research points to an important link for athletes such as dancers.  There is a connection between muscle strength and vitamin D: deficient levels of Vitamin D have been linked to decreased muscle strength.  In our recent study at the University of Wolverhampton (Birmingham, UK), we gave vitamin D supplements to ballet dancers and saw that jump height and leg strength increased for those on the supplementation, compared with those who didn’t take any.  The group who took the vitamin D tables (2000IU a day) also got fewer injuries over the 4-month period, probably because their legs were stronger.

In summary, as a dancer you should ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels at least once a year.  This is just a blood test and doesn’t take long but could have a major effect on your stayer healthy and dancing longer / dancing stronger.

Research Centre for Sport Exercise and Performance, University of Wolverhampton, UK
National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, UK

March 2017

10 Tips for Dance Competitions
By Erica Nelson, Director of Dance Medicine

It’s officially competition season! Studios everywhere are perfecting their routines, getting their costumes in place, and packing convention centers and auditoriums to show off their talent in front of panels of world-class judges. Competitions can be a lot of fun and a great learning experience for students, but they can also be stressful and intense, especially if it’s your first time. I grew up dancing in countless competitions and have compiled some tips below to ensure you have a great time!

1. Keep calm and breathe!
Dance competitions tend to be a whirlwind of emotions for everyone involved. You are nervous before you perform, happy when you win, disappointed when you don’t, etc. Keep calm, think straight, and take your time. Be sure you are mentally prepared to perform. Warm up, listen to your music, mark through your piece, and visualize performing every step perfectly. Take some time before you go onstage for yourself and do whatever you feel like you need to do before you go on. This is your time.2) Pre-plan.
Know what to expect. Look into how many other groups will be there, how long the competition will last, what the stage will be like, etc. Prepare a schedule: give yourself plenty of time to register, change, stretch, warm up and relax your nerves. Note good times to warm up, other performances you want to watch, the best times to take food breaks, and when the awards will be.

3) Command the stage!
Be confident. Respectfully acknowledge the judges as you take your place. Take deep relaxing breaths and get all the oxygen while you still can! Keep reminding yourself to stay calm.

4) Perform to your fullest!
Take everything in stride. Don’t rush yourself. Keep your mind on the dance. Push the energy of the choreography and use your entire body to execute the dance.

5) Stay positive.
No matter what happens, leave the stage with a smile on your face. You don’t want the last thing the judges to see after your dance is you walking off disappointed.

6) Assess the stage.
Find your spot! Look for exit signs, non-moving lights or visable signs. Go into the theatre ahead of time and look around. Think through the choreography and decide where you should spot for each turning sequence. It is common to fall backwards out of a turn on stage because your spot is much further away than in the dance studio. If you feel yourself falling backwards, pull your sternum towards your spot to bring your center back over your leg. Survey the floor: space the piece in your head. Consider the following: are there wings? How many? How many strips of flooring or tapelines are there? Are there markings for center and quarter? Bring rosin if you’re wearing pointe shoes in case the floor is slippery (water works too, but only use a little). Check for distractions: flashy lighting techniques, spotlights, large, loud audiences, etc. Being aware of these will make it less likely that they will disrupt you.

7) Stay in tune with student needs.
It’s easy to get distracted by paperwork, costume glitches, or other performances. Pay special attention to your dancers and anticipate their needs. Bring a dance competition survival kit (extra cosmetics, sewing kits, medicine, extra water bottles and snacks). Take your dancers aside if they seem particularly jittery for a pep talk. Explain that there’s nothing to be nervous about and everyone will be proud regardless of scores.

8) Perform for the right reasons.
Explain to your dancers why you are attending the competition. Many dancers assume they need to win a trophy to have a positive experience. The purpose of competitions is not to win a trophy. Competitions create better dancers and performers. They teach students how to handle pressure and work together to achieve a goal.

9) Practice good sportsmanship.
Encourage and model good sportsmanship. Encourage your group to cheer for other performances and wish other dancers luck. They can leave with new friends and make good networking connections! This will also reflect well on your studio and how mature and kind your students are.

10) Eat well.
You need to be sure to eat well so you have enough energy to perform your best. The night before, get lots of protein and complex carbs such as grilled chicken, vegetables, and whole-wheat pasta. Bring lots of snacks such as trail mix, fruits and veggies, pretzels and crackers, granola, and peanut butter. Eat small meals during the day such as sandwiches, bagels or soup. And skip the soda! Drink plenty of fluids with each meal. Water will help make food more digestible for the body and optimize nutrient intake.


Feb. 2017

How to Deal With the “R” Word
By Erica Nelson, Director of Dance Medicine

One of the hardest things to deal with as a dancer is the “R” word…rejection. It’s part of every dancer’s life. Whether it comes from dance competitions or team tryouts, auditions for summer intensives or college dance programs, or even for professional companies. Even famous dancers such as Misty Copeland have dealt with rejection at some point. (See her video at the end of the article!) So how do you handle a bad audition rejection letter or not making the team? Read on for more tips. We also have tips for parents on how to comfort your child through difficult times.

1. Shake it off

It’s hard not to take rejection personally, but keep in mind that dance is subjective. One director may not see your potential, but another one out there probably will – which is why you shouldn’t give up. Ask For Feedback. Make the most of your experience. Ask what you could have done better and what areas need improvement. Banish negative thoughts. Don’t let yourself get caught up in bad thinking. Get these thoughts out of your head and think about positive feedback you’ve received and your strengths as a dancer. Do something fun. When you’re in a slump, do something you enjoy. Don’t rush back into the studio. Take a day and do something fun with friends.
2) Take the next steps

Once you’ve come to terms with rejection, pick yourself up and keep going. Reevaluate your goals. Use the feedback you were given and dedicate yourself to improving problem areas to have a good shot at being accepted in the future. Work with your teachers to create a plan to achieve your new goals and get to work! Rejection is only the end of the road if you let it be.

3) Don’t overthink it
Dancers tend to put too much weight on external factors when auditioning. Auditioning early or late on a schools tour or auditioning in one city over another does not affect your odds of getting in. Denise Bolstad, administrative director for Pacific Northwest Ballet School, says that these preoccupations are a waste of time. “We don’t have a quota of students that we’re looking for,” she says. “We take whomever we feel will benefit from the program. We try to be objective and fair, whether it’s the first audition or the last.”

4) They want you to succeed
Directors are looking for dancers who will do well in their program. No one wants to put a student into a situation where they will become frustrated and discouraged. When auditioning dancers, directors are hoping that everyone will be great! The harder their decision the better! When deciding placement levels, directors tend to be conservative, because its easier to move a student up than down.

5) A lot can change in a year
Dancers’ facility, strength, and technique are always changing. Often time in young dancers, rejection is just an issue of physical strength. Work hard and try again the following year, and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve improved, as will the auditioners!

6) Realize the hard truths
Work ethic and abilities are not the sole criteria for casting. You may disagree with the specifications but it is within a director’s right to select and judge based upon their standards. You just might not be what they are looking for at that time. Hard work and determination does not always pay off. What a person deserves is not always what they will get. It is a hard, but once we accept it and look for the positive, we can move on.

7) Accomplishments don’t define us
We place a lot of emphasis on achievements/awards. These things say little of who a person is. Also, recognitions only indicate achievements in the past, not the future. Where you are going matters a lot more than where you’ve been. Accomplishments are how we develop self-confidence in our abilities but we are often shaped more by our failures. They are a good test of how badly we want something. They can also set us on new, more appropriate paths.

Tips for Parents

  • Gauge your child’s resiliency. Do they take things personally? Do they have a positive outlook? Also pay attention to how YOU feel about your child’s setback. Your attitude can make a huge difference to how your child reacts.
  • Validate their emotions.
  • Help them recognize what can & cannot be changed.
  • Redirect their attention toward something they are or likely to be successful at. Boost their ego.
  • Don’t punish or belittle negative reactions.
  • Offer choices or alternatives. What can be most disruptive about rejection is the feeling of having no control over the situation. Ask your child what they want to do and how they want to proceed. They can take extra classes, spend more time on other activities, take some workshops, etc.
  • Put it in perspective. Find something to do that helps your child recognize how fortunate they are and reduces their “big deal” rejection to proportional size. Volunteer work is good for this.
  • Let them solve it on their own. Resist trying to fix things. Even if they want rescue, resist the urge to soothe the hurt by taking action or dwelling on things that cannot be changed. Look carefully at your child for cues, and if everything seems fine by the next day, don’t bring up their disappointment. Accept that your child may have recovered more quickly than you expected!
  • Watch what you say. Ask them what they think they should work on for next time. Don’t say things like “I cant believe you didn’t make it, you were the best dancer there, the director is clueless!” and don’t critique their technique. That is the teacher’s job, not yours.
  • Share. Tell them about your experiences with rejection, what you learned from it, where failures led you, how you felt and what you did to overcome.
  • Be careful what you do. Pay attention to how you react when you face rejection or frustration. Your reaction will send a message to your child.

Even professional dancers have had their fair share of rejection. Misty Copeland highlights her struggles with rejection letters in this video:

Jan. 2017

Goals and Reverse Resolutions for Dancers

By Nichelle Suzanne, Dance Advantage

Resolutions made at the start of a year are notoriously broken. With the whole year ahead it’s easy to try taking on bigger goals than you are ready to complete, disappointing yourself as a result. There’s nothing at all wrong with goal-setting. In fact, I encourage it.

First, List Your Reverse Resolutions.
These are things you’ve accomplished over the last year, written as resolutions crossed off your list.

For example your list might look something like:

  • Increase flexibility in my splits
  • Enjoy more time with family
  • Travel to Europe
  • Accumulate 5,000 Instagram followers
  • Join a dance company

Remember, these are things you’ve already accomplished. Yay for you!

Setting Goals
After you’ve thought about your achievements, think about the steps you took to accomplish them. Did you take one gigantic leap or many small actions to get there? Did you take some risks along the way? Was the outcome actually different from what you expected?

Reflect on this and get ready to set some new goals.

If you keep a dance journal or even a personal planner or diary, you can easily keep track of goals, the steps you take to achieve them, and also your progress and achievement.

Here is a Goal Worksheet. Use this as a guide or print copies to insert directly into your journal or binder.

Use the top half for setting goals.

Write down your goal, your plan for reaching that goal, and how you’ll stay motivated along the way.

Example Goal: Improve front splits by the summer.

List the specific steps you’ll take: Take a few minutes after class to stretch while you are warm; Allow time after your shower to go through a slow routine that works through the muscles surrounding the hips and lower back and finishes with gentle split practice; Spend time visualizing yourself in a full split.

How will you backup your plan? Ask a classmate to join you and hold each other accountable, or listen to your favorite song only while stretching, make an inspiring picture your desktop photo.

Use the bottom half for reflection.

Three months, six months, or a year later have your splits improved? Even if you didn’t reach your goal, write down what you did achieve or what you are proud of yourself for accomplishing.

List the things you learned about yourself and your goal. Maybe improving splits takes more time than you thought, or you found that certain times of the day are better for you when it comes to flexibility.

Note the things or people that helped you the most. Did your teacher suggest a stretch that really worked for you? Maybe your mom was especially encouraging, reminding you to stretch.

The Big Picture:

  1. Keep a categorized list of to-dos: This is your big list of goals in different subjects, dance styles, or aspects of your life.
  2. Decide on the actions and tasks you’ll take to achieve select goals (maybe the most important or time-sensitive) from this list.
  3. Schedule those tasks into your day or week.


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