Advice for Dancers

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I'm coming back from an injury, and everyone is mad at me, from my ballet master to the other dancers, because I can't perform my old roles yet. I understand that they're tired and resent filling in for me, but my body just isn't ready. One day my knee feels fine and I can do every step in company class. The next day it's sore and I have to back off it. My doctor says that minor setbacks are normal after surgery. Why doesn't the company understand that?

Off-Stage Blues

Pittsburgh, PA

If you're dancing full out in class one day, it's easy for others to assume that you're ready to perform, unless you keep everyone in the loop about your injury status. At New York City Ballet, injured dancers have the option of asking the physical therapist or orthopedist to complete an Injury Reentry Form for the artistic staff:. This reduces misunderstandings by stating what the dancer can do, which helps the artistic staff to handle the casting. Over time, the form is updated. Needless to say, it also takes pressure off the dancer to constantly explain why she isn't ready to perform. Schools or companies that want to use this form can find it in our new book, The Dancer's Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.95).

hate my teacher! She makes fun of us if we ask questions and refuses to explain why we're doing something wrong. Our whole class is counting the days until the semester is over. Is there something we did to make her behave this way?


San Francisco, CA

Sometimes a student misbehaves in class and a teacher gets fed up. The red flag, in this case, is that aft the students are feeling mistreated. It suggests that the tension is coming from the teacher's issues, not yours. While asking questions in class can be disruptive, usually it's a plus to want more information to improve. Most teachers will acknowledge a question's merit and deal with it then or after class. Refusing to explain a correction or resorting to ridicule could be a sign of stress. Your teacher may be overworked, for instance. My advice is to meet as a group with the director of your school to explain your concerns.

I know it's silly, but I'm jealous. My director has his favorites whom he uses all the time. I'm a ballerina who gets nice roles but not a lot of attention from my boss. Should I mind? From the outside looking in, my life must seem great. The downer is that I'm rarely in the first cast, let alone the one he chooses when he choreographs a new piece. …