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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Book: A Body of Work by David Hallberg

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I just finished reading this book.  Fascinating story about his journey and his (current) view on the importance of rest.  Also interesting, especially in light of other recent thread discussions about dancer's mental health and lack of resources, was how lonely his journey appears.  

Dd read this book too, but parents of under 13s might like to preread.

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I read it too.  It was good. 

What struck me was his rehab in Australia and his two botched ankle surgeries.  He talks about that Aussie physios really not being into surgery and tending to want to use reconstruction of technique, strengthening etc.-- took a year.  They told him that they would have handled his ankle issues via PT and technique rebuild. Halberg describes the "fix me" culture in dancers in US.  It was really revealing. in terms of resources he probably had the maximum resources that any dancer would have.  An average dancer with 2 failed ankle injuries would likely not have the 1000s of dollars to fly to Australia and not work and pay for 1 year of rehab. . . assuming he paid. .. he never tells. 

Yes, injury is extremely lonely in the dance culture. .  .  that could change.  There could be groups of injured dancers to support each other and talk about the panic and depression that a major injury introduces-- it sucks you entire life-- work, art/avocation, and often your social life because it's hard to have friends outside of dance.  

I did find Halberg an interesting person and very driven and invested in his will. . . It has gotten him far. He is an amazing dancer and he deserves all the accolades. 

I did find the book itself kind of flat


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oh my.  I might have to pick up this book.  As a non-dancing parent, I have ALWAYS felt that the dance world was a bit "weird" in dealing with injuries.  I believe Australia is really on to something with both their training and their physio.

In my DD's old pre-pro school in the U.S., there was an atmosphere of "suck it up and deal" with injuries that drove me batty.  The idea of time and rest and slow recovery was not (IMO) well tolerated.  And I found a great deal of (non dance related) doctors who want to "fix" right away or -- conversely -- those who say "quit dance."  None of those was an option for my young DD.

Meanwhile, it took a very wise teacher to see a very small technique issue (regarding weight shifting) and specific strengthening exercises (along with REST, REST and more REST) to solve the injury.  It was a very frustrating time, but I'm happy that my DD was still at home when it happened, so that I could be the advocate and researcher.  I cannot imagine trying to figure that all out on your own as a young, inexperienced adult.

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I will also add that the PT that did the main work, said that she did not like to work with MRIs because they contributed to much "noise."  Instead she liked to work with what was symptomatic. Now this was a PT, so keep that in mind. . . And a dang good one at that. But her point was that the doctors could see so much on the MRI that needed to be 'fixed,' not all of it symptomatic. She said that all dancers at his level had frayed tendons.  Again,  its a particular case and really high powered dancer and PT but it was interesting. 

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I'm almost finished with the book.  DDs and I love David Hallberg.  We saw his US Bolshoi premiere at the Kennedy Center, which it turns out was deep into his injury.  Sad to think that so much beauty was so painful for him at the time.  

I am glad my DDs had exposure to good physical therapy and strength training when they were young.  One of my DDs had to have surgery to remove bone spurs when she was 12 - in the end, not a dance decision as it was starting to hurt while on long walks.  Lots of physical therapy at a very young age then a coach who was extremely knowledgeable on dance anatomy and physiology will hopefully serve them well.  DDs are on their own for the first time and (knock on wood) handling things well.  For years, DDs have witnessed classmates hiding injuries and pushing through.  It's just not the smart thing to do in the long term but they all want the job when there are so few jobs so often short-term thinking wins out.  

Also a very good insight into the struggles of young male dancers and the bullying they often face.    

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