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Dropping like Fliesa training problem?

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#1 aspirant



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Posted 13 March 2004 - 06:38 AM

On Thursday there was a program change from Martins' "Octet" to Rushton's "Nomad" due to illness and injury. Mads Blangstrup and Tina Hojlund performed impressively, given what was obviously short notice. They even managed to rustle up the orchestra in time for a live music performance. Things really got interesting, however, when after the 1st movement of Tschaik. Piano #2 the curtain went down, came up again to a bowing, allbeit confused looking cast and a missing leading man. Jean Lucien Massot ducked out toward the end of the 1st movement, and did not reappear. The audience was then greeted, front of curtain, with an explanation that due to injury they would not conclude the nights program.

Earlier in the season, Etudes was replaced several times by Vers ...Passage due to the same problem.

All this is a big leadup to my question--which is this: In this age of modern medicine, science and all the physiotherapy that exists to help dancer/athletes why is it that these sorts of plagues seem to develop? It is understandable that injuries are the name of the game, and that they occur more frequently when a company is performing to maximum capacity, but it seems as if pockets of people are out at a time very frequently--and not just here, there seems to be a 'get better' wish for a NYCB dancer on this board every twenty minutes!

#2 Alexandra


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Posted 13 March 2004 - 10:24 AM

Good question -- it is happening in many companies; half of the NYCB principals didn't make it to DC, for whatever reason; many were injured.

There's been an injury problem as long as I've been watching ballet, and I remember in the 1970s there were cries of alarm, as though this were a change. (There were always injuries, of course, but people noticed that there were more.)

I hope Victoria, Mel, mbjerk and other dancers will have some answers for this one.

Culprits I've heard:

1. Dancing too much (not as much of a problem in Copenhagen as in New York)
2. Mixing contemporary ballet and classical ballet in repertory because different muscles are used, or are used differently -- pros, please weigh in here!
3. It's difficult to dance a classical ballet after a diet of contemporary and people are ill-prepared.
4. The way the ballets are cast and the repertory arranged may not be helpful: You don't prepare for Sleeping Beauty by doing a month of Merry Widow, say.

#3 liebs


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Posted 13 March 2004 - 12:31 PM

It is important not to forget that sometimes, as in the case of NYCB this winter, people are out due to illness like flu and colds. And ballet cos are like grammar school - one person gets sick, everyone gets sick.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 02:08 PM

Yes to all of Alexandra's cited possible causes, and an additional note of alarm toward the emphasis today on more, higher, faster, longer, harder. It's being ingrained in today's students by the unwholesome atmosphere of competition brought on not only by competition with themselves and within their own companies (these have been there forever), but in the proliferation of competition performances. It can afflict even professional dancers. (How did Alicia Alonso and Alexandra Danilova ever make a career without competitions? :angry: ) The art is being threatened by the athleticism and the assumption of virtue by quantification. (A good score means a good dancer - not necessarily! A quintuple pirouette is better than a double - not necessarily! Sticking your kneecap into your ear is better than a waist-high extension - not often!)

#5 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 07:10 AM

Amen to that, Mel, and I also agree totally with Alexandra's list. Dancers today are asked to go from a classical pas de deux to works of Forsythe or Taylor in the course of a single day. They are pushed for more and more, as Mel said, and some push themselves endlessly for the same thing. I'm certainly not against working for improvement, but question the constant push just to do more pirouettes and everything else with more quantity than quality.

Another thing I have seen is principal dancers being overused, dancing too many works in one night, or too many works in one rep, while others are underused. The overworked get injured from overwork, and the underworked get injured from suddenly working a lot after not working enough. And, then there is the problem of too much too soon. A young talent pushed into big stardom in roles that are too demanding before they are ready for that much work, not to mention pressure.

I loved reading, in Alymer's review of the Fred and Mr. B gala, about the wonderful dancer who was brought along to principal through the ranks and given the time to mature and develop, even though he was a gold medal winner while still in the corps.

#6 Alexandra


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Posted 14 March 2004 - 10:33 AM

I also think that at least some of today's artistic directors really don't understand many of the points made above -- they're not balletmasters. 30 years ago, you'd read directors say that a ballet would be done first on a mixed program because muscles tightened for ballet could be loosened for modern (ha!) but not the other way around. I think today there are people leading companies who weren't particularly refined dancers in their dancing days, and just went out there and did it, whatever "it" was, and so it never occurs to them to look at either the artistic or the physical aspects of program building, ballets within each program, and season building -- that doing a week of New Now Dance and then a week of Swan Lake isn't the best thing.

#7 Effy


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Posted 16 March 2004 - 07:24 AM

I think one reason behind the high amount of injuries in RDB the fact that the ensemble is still smaller than it should be is a contributing factor. Also the fact that fysioteraphy is not available as much as the dancers would prefer.

Regarding the size of the company, a bulk of dancers disappeared when the pension age was changed from 48 to 40 a few years back and the school has not been able to produce as many dancers and especially leading dancers as is really needed. As today Gudrun Bojesen is the youngest principal at 27, Gitte Lindström a few years older and the remaining leading ballerinas are in the mid-thirties and several of them are on maternity leave. That would not be a poblem if we had younger ballrinas coming up, but a quick look at the talent base says that several of the possible candidates like Sascha Haugland and Isabella S have been suffering longterm injuries.

#8 Clara 76

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 10:19 AM

Apologies to all if I went off-topic. When I first posted this response I didn't realize it was referring only to RDB. :D
Although some of the points may be helpful???

Excellent points made so far...

I'd like to add that dancers are notorious for 'dancing through the pain'. :D

Whether it is fear that they will lose their position in the company or get a reputation for being "injury-prone" I don't know but unless the AD fosters an environment of openess and trust with regards to injuries, dancers will keep silent until they become unable to avoid it.

Training is also a factor.

Improper posture can be the defining element as to probability of injury.

Cultural posture comparison studies have been done that demonstrate effectively people in their 80's and 90's with straight upright postures, can still lift very heavy objects, have no lower back problems, and tend to live longer.

This is a marked difference with Americans and Western Europeans who tend to slump forward with the hips, stand with the weight unevenly distributed into one hip, and thrust the chin forward.

Looking back to American fashion magazines from the early part of the 20th century in comparison to today's vision of what constitutes 'beauty', you will see the distorted figures to which I am referring.

If one's ballet training does not emphasize the proper alignment of the skeleton, dancers will compensate in ways that will cause chronic problems for them in the future.

For example, forcing turnout causes permanent damage to the knees.

Clara :)

#9 Effy


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Posted 20 March 2004 - 11:13 AM

Apperantly 25 Danish dancers are currently injured/sick. That is almost 1/3 of the company.

#10 carbro


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Posted 20 March 2004 - 09:05 PM

Jennie Somogyi (in a cast and with crutches due to her January mishap in Tchaikovsky Piano Cto.) made an appearance at Wall-to-Wall Balanchine. Doesnt' looks like she's donning point shoes for a while. :unsure:

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