For anyone who thinks dance isn’t a sport; take a glance at what a dancer’s body endeavors during a daily practice. Few sports require their athletes not only to be physically fit but emotionally connected to themselves and entertain an audience.
Injury prevention is taken seriously at Northland. At Northland dancers attend Stretch & Strengthening class to prepare their muscles for advancing their skills. Dancers follow a sequence of learning basic skills before moving to advanced moves. For example a dancer must learn how to do a backwalkover before attempting a back tuck, Master a side ariel before learning a front ariel. Even in Ballet class the years of practice and ankle strengthening before going up on pointe is intense and for the dancers long-term safety. As a child your feet grow and change rapidly each year, so making sure a dancer is fully ready before going up on pointe is for the dancers best interest.
But everything can come to a halt in one second.
Injuries in the dance world can come by surprise and bring great hardships. There isn’t a second string quarterback to step in instantly. Alternates aren’t common, it affects the whole team, the choreographer, but mostly the dancer themselves. Getting injured is no ones fault especially not the dancer who is hurt. It requires a team effort to step up and fill the spot that is missing and requires the dancer to step down to put their mental and physical health first.
There is no good time for injuries, but they always seem to happen at the worst inconvenience. One of our dancers broke her foot in ballet class a few weeks before nationals. Let’s hear what Julia has to share:
How old were you when you got your injury?
I was 12 years old when I broke my foot. It was in the last 5 minutes of ballet intensive and only a few weeks before nationals.
How did you mentally overcome your injury?
It took me time to get over my injury. First I was the saddest I have ever been because I’ve never gotten hurt so I didn’t understand what I was missing out on. But after watching my team go on stage AND WIN at nationals, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I could be back dancing again.
How did you physically overcome your injury?
Many physical therapy sessions. I would have a session about every other week. They would give me exercises to do at home, and when I tell you I did them, I did them everyday. I was so eager to get back to dance that I was doing everything in my power to get back dancing as soon as I could.
What message would you tell another dancer that may be going through a serious injury?
First, if you are ever going through an injury, tell someone because you don’t want it to get worse. Second, never give up. Anything can happen and you never want to throw something away just because of a stupid little injury.