How Dancer Wellness Will Make 2021 Suck Less
by Katrena Cohea
I talk a lot about "dancer wellness;" especially this year, in 2020, the term "wellness" is probably one that’s trending. It’s easy to understand why - humans are under a lot of stress these days, so learning and implementing coping skills to keep us well during this pandemic has become vital.
But as I was creating my new membership program, StudioZen, I realized I needed to clarify what dancer wellness is, to help folks understand it, and why it’s important.
So, what is dancer wellness, exactly? To start, check out this graphic, as it sums up at a glance what I mean when I say dancer wellness.
There’s some of the obvious things at the top of the iceberg, things like nutrition, strength training and positivity, but really, dancer wellness is so much more than the surface level things we can see.
If we dig a little deeper, we realize that ‘wellness’ is about viewing dance, and dancers, holistically. Dancer wellness is about the things that will help a dancer find success, in the dance industry, and beyond. These elements all play an important role in keeping a dancer healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
In short: dancer wellness is all the things dance teachers and dance professionals say they wished they’d learned earlier.
Every dancer, dance teacher, studio owner, or dance parent I’ve talked to about dancer wellness says ‘I wish I had known these skills sooner! They would have helped me so much!”
Dancer wellness is about tending to ALL parts of a dancer, not just the parts that directly affect his or her performance in class, on stage, or in rehearsal.
Kathryn Morgan’s recent YouTube video about her decision to leave Miami City Ballet is a perfect example of why dancer wellness is so crucial. Several other dancers have also now come forward sharing similar stories and experiences, and while it’s heartbreaking to hear how these dancers have been treated, it’s also not surprising. (In fact, a poll I did on Instagram showed that 90% of you weren’t surprised by these stories.)
This reveals a couple things:
- Body shaming, verbal abuse, and a general ignorance of the mental health of dancers has been completely normalized in our industry.
- There’s a huge need to right this wrong and educate dancers, educators, directors, choreographers, parents (basically anyone within the dance community) about how we can, and should, do better.
Now that we have a definition of dancer wellness, let’s talk about why it’s important, and how it can make life less stressful in 2021.
Imagine the shift that would occur in the dance industry if we prioritized the dancer before the dancing. Not only would dancers be happier and healthier, they’d have longer careers and less injuries, and go on to choreograph and serve on boards and admin in dance companies and bring the values of dancer wellness with them. Not to mention dance would become more inclusive, diverse and exponentially expand its reach, finding footholds and support in communities across the globe!
Dancers are more than bodies that do the bidding of a choreographer. They are more than executors of a role or performance, and they are more than one half of a partnership and more than one more bun in the corps or company.
If we truly are invested in protecting the arts, and dance, we have to protect the artists - the dancers. That includes protecting them from harmful behaviors like emotional and verbal abuse, body shaming, and eating disorders.
Considering that our global pandemic will continue to affect us, and the dance industry for years to come, protecting and supporting dancers right now is vital. If we want dance to survive the next few years, we have to make sure the dancer survive, and have tools to thrive, and that’s why it’s crucial we prioritize dancer wellness.
So where do we start?
You can start by attending my Dancer Wellness Webinar! It’s happening on December 5th at 10 am EST!
- how to (easily) bring Dancer Wellness into your classes
- the three most important tools you need to build your own Dancer Wellness plan
- how Dancer Wellness can save your studio + classes in 2021
- 60 minute live training (recorded and emailed to you after for future reference too!)
- downloads + printable materials
- an easy action plan to put your Dancer Wellness strategies into place
Plus, the webinar is donation based, and 20% of your donation will go to Minding the Gap, a nonprofit that’s on a mission to bring mental health and wellness support to the dance industry, so you’ll not only learning about tools you can use in your life, but be helping dancers around the world receive mental health support and benefits they need to thrive.
I hope to see you there and share these important tools and strategies with you! If you have any questions, you can visit https://www.differentdrummerdance.com/dancer-wellness-webinar, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s make sure 2021 sucks less for dancers, and the dance community. Sign up for the webinar today and commit to doing your part for a better and brighter dance world.
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