art & ethics

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art & ethics

Coping with the Pain

December 16th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Aminta Burnett

Professor Fox

EN 101


Ballet is as much of a sport as any other, and I would know because I was a ballerina. I used to do ballet when I was younger, I started when I was three and stopped when I was twelve. I always loved going to ballet classes as a kid and learning new dances and techniques. From experience, I can say that ballet puts a big strain on your body. The style of classic ballet puts pressure on the body and makes your body move in weird ways that it isn’t supposed to move in. If an injury occurred from dancing it was taken very lightly and I had to deal with it on my own and continue to dance. In the dressing room, dancers would tape their feet and use bandages to wrap their ankles to prevent further injury. Although it’s not the common choice, dancers and athletes alike need to seek medical attention when an injury persists, instead of powering through pain.

All athletes experience physical pain at one point in their athletic careers, which is why it should be treated, instead of swept under the rug. All athletes need to be taken care of and treat injuries with great care so that the injury can heal. The injury gets fixed and the player gets right back on the field or on the stage. Most athletes know this and understand how injuries can get worse over time if not treated, so why do dancers think it’s okay to keep going even when an injury arises? More often then not dancers will decide to brush their injuries aside and mark it off as nothing. This decision to continue dancing on an injury is better than to stop. Dancers like myself have been taught over the years to cope with the pain. Most of us have heard the phrase “push through the pain” or “no pain no gain,” but at some point the pain is too much. Whereas most athletes know that there is a point where pain overcomes the will to perform, whereas dancers don’t have that signal.

Dancers have a different mindset when it comes to coping with pain, it is a mind game that dancers play with themselves to convince themselves that they aren’t actually hurt. I can say that I have played this game with myself as well. Whenever my knees, ankles, or feet hurt I would brush off the pain and continue dancing. “No pain, no gain” is often used to get athletes to push through, but at some point one needs to stop, whereas dancers won’t. There’s a simple reason, unlike football and soccer or baseball, there aren’t multiple game or performances for dancers to partake in. There is one big show that encompasses all the dances that you learn over the year. There is so much time, effort, and preparation that goes into a show that the thought of not being able to perform because your feet hurt is unheard of.

In the article “Moving Beyond “No Pain No Gain,” by Rosie Gaynor and Nancy Wozny, a ballet dancer who was performing, Kaori Nakamura stated “I couldn’t point my foot” and that it was “so painful and numb.” (Gaynor, Rosie, and Nancy Wozny. “Moving Beyond “no Pain, no Gain”). While backstage the director asked her if she wanted to stop, the dreaded question that no dancer ever wants to hear. She had worked so hard for this one night she couldn’t possibly stop now, and so she didn’t. She pushed herself through two more acts and fell when the curtain closed. She said, “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t even touch my calf, it was so painful,” but for her the show had to go on (Gaynor, Rosie, and Nancy Wozny. “Moving Beyond “no Pain, no Gain”).

This type of behavior is very common for dancers, while a coach for any other sports team would have pulled their player out of the game and had the trainer looking at their injury. Dancers have a choice whether they want to stop dancing or continue. Given the power to choice their fate it is easier to trick your mind and push past the pain for the long awaited chance to perform on stage, even with an injury that hurts like no other.


Works Cited

Encarnacion, Maria L. G., et al. “Pain Coping Styles of Ballet Performers.” Journal of Sport Behavior 23.1 (2000): 20-32.ProQuest. Web. 8 Dec. 2015

Gaynor, Rosie, and Nancy Wozny. “Moving Beyond “no Pain, no Gain”.” Pointe 12.1 (2011): 44,44,46. ProQuest. Web. 8 Dec. 2015


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