At BalletMet, dancers work hard to maintain a strong and healthy physicality in order to perfect their art. This is not easy. Dancers often perform movements that are unusual and hard on the body, causing strain or in some cases more serious injuries.
Luckily for BalletMet’s company dancers, they have the luxury of receiving free services from Hope Davis. Hope is a certified athletic trainer who works with BalletMet through the Ohio State Sports Medicine department.
According to Ms. Davis, the market for certified athletic trainers has expanded significantly over time. Other professionals that share Hope’s title are typically found on the sports field, but more recently, they can be found in schools and in performing arts organizations.
Ms. Davis says she considers dancers to be performance athletes (along with gymnasts, musicians and others), and she thinks dance should be recognized as a form of sport. She says that there are specific types of injuries for every sport. For example, high-impact sports such as football and soccer are often correlated with collision injuries. Injuries in dance can be acute or traumatic. Most of them are chronic in nature and build up over time. Hope explained that many injuries go ignored by dancers, because they do things with their bodies that are typically not normal, so they are not as concerned when their bodies start to feel sore or strained. Injuries are often swept under the rug, in fear that they may hold the dancer back.
When Davis was just 5 years old, she started dancing with hopes that the discipline would improve her awkward composure. She loved to dance, and worked hard at it too. She would occasionally encounter minor injuries, like any other dancer. However, one back injury left her bedridden for weeks. During this time, Davis saw multiple doctors, most of whom gave her the same piece of advice: stop dancing. She didn’t want to stop, so she kept seeing different doctors, hoping for a different opinion. Eventually, one doctor fixed Hope’s back defect, and she was able to return to dance. Her experience with overcoming injury inspired her to help other dancers do the same.
Educating dancers on what to do to prevent injuries is one of the biggest parts of Hope’s job. She teaches her clients specific exercises to help them be less susceptible to physical damage.
A typical day in the life of Hope Davis
· 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. - Start at clinic
· 10:15 a.m. – arrive at BalletMet and teach a conditioning class with pre-professional dancers for 45 minutes
· 11:00 a.m. - lunch break in between meetings with dancers
· 1:00 p.m - 4:30 p.m. – “open for business” in her BalletMet office
Davis works very closely with the BalletMet dancers, seeing anywhere between three and nine BalletMet dancers a day. She is on location every day to work with them, and is with the dancers before, during, and after all performances. When dancers visit Ms. Davis, she assesses any new or preexisting injuries and determines whether treatment requires a doctor. Sometimes all she has to do is first-aid work and/or taping, but she stays prepared for any and all things. Thanks to Hope’s assistance, BalletMet is able to keep their dancers on their toes and on the dance floor.