Author: Jacqueline Burnett, Dancer, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
I left behind my “performance-ready” body two hours before Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s opening night at the Harris Theater on March 12th, 2020. We had completed technical rehearsal, and I was about to see Madeline G., Athletico Performing Arts Physical Therapist, who was waiting for dancers needing one last moment of help before lifting the curtain for an extremely physical evening of dance. Just then, our directors came to the stage and announced the show would be cancelled due to a city-wide response to Covid-19. The following 20 months turned into a completely different lifestyle, and now Hubbard Street has finally returned to the theater this past weekend with a live theater audience.
Co-Authors: Andrew Ludwig PT, DPT and Bryan Lind PT, MPT, ATC
As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues around the country and the world, dancers have been taken from the studios and moved into their homes for virtual practices and performances. While the performing arts have had to adapt to these challenging times, it opens the door for potential injuries as many dancers do not have the proper equipment to practice safely and effectively in their home. In this blog, we’ll explore dance safety and the steps you can take to practice safely.
After almost six months of being away from The Joffrey Ballet and all of the dancers, there was finally a plan in which I can return onsite in my role as a Performing Arts Physical Therapist to safely provide care to them. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about returning. This day almost reminded me of first-day-of-school jitters. Our jobs are already high stakes and high pressure, but now a deadly virus has been added to the mix. We must be careful and mindful in everything we do that could risk our own or our dancers’ health. So before I get into how the return to studio unfolded, let me back up and explain the many months of preparation that went into this possibility turned reality of going back to help The Joffrey Ballet.
As an Athletico physical therapist, I have been supporting The Joffrey Ballet for more than five years. I usually work with the dancers while they are rehearsing and performing in Chicago, where my job is to triage, evaluate and treat issues that may arise from their rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule. Recently, my career with The Joffrey Ballet took me beyond Chicago, when I traveled with the company to three different cities across the country. We started in snowy, cold Minneapolis for two performances of a full length ballet called Anna Karenina, then off to Santa Barbara for two mixed repertory shows, and finished with one final performance in San Diego.
Coaches, parents and athletes often ask me, “What is the best way to learn or improve upon doing the splits?” Gymnasts, cheerleaders and dancers are often the population that is interested, but lately this has become a great topic for baseball players, hurdlers and hockey players. Below are three great stretches to assist in gaining flexibility to improve your splits with some good reminders on how to stay safe while stretching.