What I’ve noticed with working with many dancers over the years is at times, ankle mobility, hip mobility or lumboplevic stability can negatively affect alignment during dance movement.

The plie is a fundamental movement not only in ballet but in all dance forms. It is the preparation for jumps, turns, acoustic sounds and all propulsion.

This is why regardless of the dancer’s main discipline, I assess plie.

Another common misconception is that turnout (external “outward” rotation of the hip joint) is generated equally by both hips.

This is not the case. The favoured gesture leg and vs supporting leg can present with contrasting mobility.

In this dancer, the right ilium has an anterior tilt due to tightness in the deep hip flexor (iliopsoas). What most forget is that the deep hip flexor is also an INTERNAL rotator of the hip. In other words, it opposes turnout.

During her dance conditioning session, we focused on the engagement of turnout from the deep external rotators of the hip joint using bands and tactile cues in addition to focusing on foot, spinal and pelvic alignment.

The result was level heels at the bottom of grand plie which improved a balanced turnout generation from not hips as well as stability from the lumboplevic area.

The awareness gained from this can continue to dance training in class and can prevent any injury from developing in the ankle, knee, hip or spine in the future.

Here is another example of dancer demonstrating similar alignment issues on the opposite side.

Being aware of these alignment issues can be overlooked in a class setting when the dance educator is responsible for a general overview of the movement. This is why private dance assessments and conditioning in conjunction with manual therapy by a knowledgeable practitioner is key to the success of a dancer with serious goals.

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If you are or have a dancer that would like to be assessed, book your appointment online.

Blessyl's love for all forms of dance comes together in Street Ballet
Blessyl’s love for all forms of dance comes together in Street Ballet

With over three decades of dance experience, she completely understands the journey of the young dancer, the audition process, and the demands of the professional. While studying her Bachelor of Kinesiology at McMaster University, she was scouted by a talent agent and began her professional career as a commercial dancer. Select credits include: Dairy Farmers Milk Rap Commercial (2002), Step Up Revolution Flash Mob: New Music Live-Much Music (2012), and the biggest highlight was the opportunity to dance with Madonna at her Grand Opening event-Hard Candy Fitness (2014). She is a member of ACTRA (Apprentice).

Using the Merrithew Tower Trainer™, Dr. Blessyl fuses her clinical expertise with dance conditioning and pilates. This innovative equipment allows the dancer to work through barre work and matwork with access to elements of the reformer and cadillac using resistance from body weight and springs. Her work is profiled on her Instagram and Youtube channel.

Outside of the studio, she is the contributing writer on dance health & conditioning for The Dance Current and is active with Healthy Dancer Canada (HDC). She is a former faculty member of Equity Showcase Theatre and was a presenter for HDC and the Performing Arts & Medicine Association (PAMA). She was also a guest teacher at York University’s Dance Program.

Dance inherently trains the body about spatial awareness, balance and the emotional connection to music.  It is the simplest way to develop your ability to listen to your body’s internal cues.

Many of my patients are disconnected to their bodies. The onset of injuries shock them, their strain is annoying and pain is an inconvenient symptom. What they don’t realize is that the body has been whispering messages to them for many years. It is only until the body “goes on strike” with a debilitating injury, that my patients start to listen then come to my office.

Move!  Fshutterstock_109846025eel joy in your movement, are you free? are you restricted?

It’s time to listen.

As a practitioner, I can truly empathize with the dancer’s desire to be injury free and the anxieties they experience when they are working or in between contracts. It’s a skill that I gained from being a professional dancer. I am very fortunate to juggle both. Never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would be dancing with a chiropractic career and being the mother of two little girls.

As a mature dancer, I embrace the changes in my physicality. There are other ways to showcase your body as you age.  Interestingly, I am much more confident in my own skin then when I was younger and had the flexibility and physique that I didn’t appreciate at the time.

 

This is what I learned:

Dance is an extension of your heart.  Dance is wearing your emotions on your body through movement. Under this definition, dance never ages and so your relationship with it should never end. In actuality, it becomes more colourful.

 

I want the new generation of dancers to have no regrets and to have the tools in their body to be successful. Being a healer and a dancer is my life’s work. It is both my intention and my passion to be a practitioner that is knowledgeable to treat and educate the performing artist and to be genuinely empathetic to their needs because I am also one of them.

Your childhood dreams are messages of what you are intended to become.  At 34 years of age I can honestly say that I am a doctor, a teacher, a mother and a professional dancer.  It took the writing of this article for me to appreciate my ongoing journey. For that I am both humbled and grateful.

 

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This red pointe shoe, interrupted my walk on Queen Street West in Toronto. It was a blazing sign that dance was my passion.

Tonight, I watched a childhood friend of mine dance in Geometrix’s show called ” Work Vs. Passion:  The Dynamic Struggle between necessity and desire”. And the theme of the show was loaded with the message: “listen to your heart “. It featured a student and a doctor who repressed their desire to dance because of the practical and necessary pursuit of a career which they believed would help them to survive in this crazy world.

I cried during this show. Firstly, because I was so happy to watch my friend and secondly, because the show represented my life. I started dancing when I was four and met my friend at this age. I am inherently a shy person, but on stage, forget it, I was in my element. But in school, I always excelled and envisioned myself as a speaker, a teacher and a healer and was intrigued with the human body. So the tension between dance and school was very present at an early age.

Yet, despite my efforts to repress my artistic passion, dance always chased me. In university, my childhood dreams of professional dance came true when I got scouted at a dance show. And in my fourth year, my wildest dreams manifested when I auditioned for the musical “The Lion King” after submitting my application to chiropractic college. I was progressing further and further in the audition and I was ready to push back my admission to chiropractic college, but ultimately, it wasn’t meant to be. Heart broken, I left the studio wondering, “what if”.

back in the day…

During chiropractic college, I threw away the dream of dancing again to focus on school, but a friend of mine encouraged me to go to a casting and that spiraled into commercial and television dance gigs which were practical for me because the contracts were short and I didn’t need to take time off school. From that, I became a member of ACTRA and met and worked with talented Toronto dancers who are well established choreographers today.

My last dance contract was back in 2007. I was pregnant with my first child, but I didn’t tell the director. They were all wondering why my wardrobe never fit and my little baby kept dancing in my tummy every time the music played. Today, she’s my little ballerina at 4 years old.

Now, I am a chiropractor, a pilates instructor and a mom. I love my job and am proud to say that I had complete control on how I designed my life to this point.  I still love to dance.

You’ll still see me in the dance studio training in hopes that one day I’ll make it back on the stage. I miss the lights beaming on my face. I miss the feeling of weightlessness in a jump. I miss performing.

Sigh, life goes on. I have no regrets.

Dance always finds me. I have faith.