“there is fatigue so great that the body the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration; there are daily small deaths.” -Martha Graham
I’ve been fortunate that my dance life has included very few serious injuries. Sure, there were those infected-blisteres resulting in blood poisoning, and I’ve had tendonitis in my hips since I was about fourteen. There was also that one time that I was punched in the face on stage… Oh, did I never mention that?
When I was twenty-three, I was dancing with a ballet company in New Jersey and we were performing ‘Dracula’ in a freezing cold cathedral, on Halloween, at midnight. Sounds like the coolest show ever, doesn’t it? I danced both as Victoria Van Helsing and then for one tiny scene as a nurse that did basically nothing except strap crazy Renfield into a straight-jacket and put him on the gurney. Easy peasy. Or it should have been.
Trouble was, Renfield was danced by a Korean ex-marine who after his stint in the military, decided to take up dancing. He was an incredible dancer but maybe not the best actor. I say this only because he took a ‘method’ approach to his roles and chose not to ‘pretend’ much in his struggle of escaping the straight jacket and expected lil’ ol’ me to take my nursing seriously and actually combat his thrashing about as if it were the real deal. And in the midst of this true-to-life attempt to break free, he punched me the face. My lip started bleeding. And you just have to keep going. (That is, until I went offstage and cried.) Oh the dangers of live performance.
The life of a dancer is usually pretty fraught with injury. Luckily, this subject is coming under the microscope under the direction of Lauren Warnecke, dance writer of the wonderful art intercepts and part of the Kinesiology and Nutrition Department of UIC. She is currently conducting independent research about dance injuries, the return to work, and rehab plans.
Take a few minutes for this simple and anonymous survey and add valuable insight toward the future directions and necessity for further research to help all the wounded dancers. This work is approved by UIC’s Institutional Review Board and participants must be 18 years of age.