Pain and Persistance

“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?

My New Jersey home- this picture of the company appeared in the New York TImes- I'm that headless girl in the middle wearing the zip-up

My New Jersey home- this picture of the company appeared in the New York TImes- I’m that headless girl in the middle wearing the zip-up

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.

im not sorry

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.

To be directed to the survey, visit
It’s always so sad when an injury ends a promising career, especially if it’s something that could be treated. I guess no research nor rehab could have prevented or cured my punch-in-the-kisser. Are they offering ’embarrassment therapy’ for dancers?

2 thoughts on “Pain and Persistance

  1. Ironically I’m reading this while in the doctor’s waiting room, and I’m here because of the chronic, mystery pain that caused me to quit dancing.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and emphasizing the importance of treating injuries early, as well as taking preventive measures. American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicince (AOSSM) actually have been working hard since 2007 to raise awareness on injury prevention. Here is the infographic that I made outlining some preventative steps to avoid injuries in dancers. Let me know you think!

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