A Dancer’s Personal Definition of Health – Not Wiki’s Version

Integrating dance & health cannot be done without the use of collaboration.  Twyla Tharp quotes, ” A clearly stated and consciously shared purpose is the foundation of great collaborations.”  The ideas, opinions, and words from people on both sides of the integration is key to the purpose of dancehealthier.

I asked dancers, “With dance in mind, what is your personal definition of health – Not Wiki’s version?”  

Jermaine Maurice Spivey – Currently with Kidd Pivot.  Past dancer with Cullberg Ballet and attended Juilliard.

  • “Hmmm, good health physically is totally related to good mental health.  I would say knowing when to take a break contributes to good health.  A vacation gives the mind a break from dance, giving space to focus on other things all while giving the body a chance to heal.”

Kelly Yankle:  Current dancer with Ballet Met, BFA holder in dance from the University of Cincinnati, and past dancer with Cincinnati Ballet.

  • “It is a shame that often times it seems tough to be in “good health” as a dancer, when it should be quite the opposite.  A dancer’s body is constantly being critiqued and utilized, therefore comes a huge pressure to look a certain way – thin.  But being thin does not necessarily mean being in “good health.”  Being in good health is also not just about the physical aspect.  There is a mental and emotional aspect, which also proves challenging at times for a dancer.  It is such a high stress job.  To be in good health we have to eat the nutritious foods, but still treat yourself too.  Don’t obsess of dieting and weight.  Moderation is key.  Accept yourself. This is the only body you have.  Take care of it.”

Kara Zimmerman: Current dancer with Joffrey Ballet.  Past dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet.

  • “I think “good health” in a dancer’s life is more of a mental issue than a physical one.  Once we are in a good place in our minds, the rest falls into place.  We must be happy, confident, and peaceful within ourselves. . . and find that difficult balance between working hard, fighting for what we love, and going too far and taking it to that “crazy” unhealthy extreme, that eventually kills a dancer’s spirit.”

Dwayne Holliday: Current dance critic and writer for Dance Europe.  Past dancer with Deutsche Oper Am Rhein, Theatre Ulm, Milwaukee Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet.

  • “I feel a productive way to view health is a cycle where each leg provides appropriate positive feedback to the system.  I.e. the way we view ourselves bolsters our desires to take care of our bodies, which then encourages us to eat well, which gives us the energy to move and explore our bodies and minds, which then naturally (I believe) increases our chances of having a positive view of ourselves.  It is naive to assume that our thoughts and feelings don’t have physiological mechanisms.  Therefore, if we want to have proper mind/spirit functioning, we cannot ignore the physical vessel in which these mental actions occur.  Health, if this to be accepted, can be defined as the balanced relationship between mind and body, with neither riding the coattails of the other.”

Looking at the big picture of these definitions, what can be said?  Do non-dancers agree?

**Thanks to all dancehealthier readers and subscribers for all of your support so far. If interested, you may subscribe to dancehealthier at the right hand side of the homepage.  You will only be e-mailed when new posts are published. Dancehealthier also has a facebook page.  To check it out, and like it, click HERE!  Feel free to make a comment or contact me via e-mail at dancehealthier@gmail.com.

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8 thoughts on “A Dancer’s Personal Definition of Health – Not Wiki’s Version

  1. I loved reading this and what I loved more is that the dance world seems to be moving farther from the thin ideal and heading toward the healthy ideal!

  2. Dancehealthier’s main purpose is to emphasize and promote health through healthy ways! It’s important for dancers to know that when healthy, both mentally and physically, longevity and physic will be better off! With more research and emphasize on promoting health for dance will hopefully better our dance careers.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. I loved this post and wholeheartedly agree with ALL of the wonderful definitions (although i’d have to say Dwayne Holliday’s was my favorite)! As a double major in Biopsychology & Dance, I often feel that the mind-body connection is disregarded in the lives of many dancers today. I hope more people (not just dancers) will continue to follow this trend!

  4. Thanks for your input. It’s nice to hear what you have to say especially with your knowledge base! Thanks for reading.

    Sent from my iPhone

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