Magazine article Dance Magazine

Advice for Dancers

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Advice for Dancers

Article excerpt

AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT FORDHAM UNIVERSITY, LINDA HAMILTON, PH.D., IS ALSO A PSYCHOLOGIST IN PRIVATE PRACTICE, A FORMER DANCER WITH NEW YORK CITY BALLET, AND AUTHOR OF ADVICE FOR DANCERS (JOSSEY-BASS).

Do you know of any programs where I could learn to teach deaf children how to dance? I've taken some classes in American Sign Language (ASL) at a community college near me and would love to combine it with my background in dance.

Laura Soloman

You're in luck! Every summer the National Dance Institute--a nonprofit arts education organization founded by former NYCB principal dancer Jacques d'Amboise--offers an intensive two-week training program for teachers. During this time, you'll learn NDI's technique for setting high but attainable dance goals for all children, including students who are deaf, blind, and physically challenged. NDI also offers a one-year internship, with free ASL courses for those who wish to teach pupils who are hearing impaired. For more information, contact NDI Artistic Director Ellen Weinstein at 594 Broadway, Room 805, New York, New York 10012; 212/226-0083.

I am an aspiring professional dancer with a severe case of scoliosis. Will dance companies take one look at my beck and deny me a job? It would boost my confidence if I could talk to some professionals who've managed to have a career despite this problem.

Julia From Cleveland, Ohio

I can't give out any names. But I do know of several ballerinas with severe scoliosis and many more professional dancers with mild curves and highly successful careers. So, unless your curvature interferes with your technique, it shouldn't hurt your job prospects. The real question is, why is scoliosis so common in dancers?

According to our research, one out of four dancers develops minor curves--not only because of genes, which account for the most severe cases, but also because of the intense exercise that often delays menarche, giving the deformity more time to develop because the spine is still growing. The good news is that dancing will also strengthen your back and maintain flexibility, which is particularly important in severe cases like yours. Still, you need to see a scoliosis specialist to offset any health problems down the road.

I know this isn't your typical problem, but I need to gain weight. I'm a six-foot-tall male dancer who weighs close to 140 pounds. Nothing seems to make me bulk up, and I'm worried that being so thin is keeping me from the final cut in auditions.

Concerned Male Dancer

The fact is it's just as hard to gain as it is to lose when it comes to changing your natural weight. While this may comfort dancers who indulge in an extra dessert now and then, it can be a real problem for exceptionally thin dancers who want to project a stronger look. …

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