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In a feat of dancer blogaliciousness, I have recently swapped interviews with several great new dance bloggers! On the menu for today: A recent conversation with my friend, Kansas City Ballet dancer, Jill Marlow Krutzkamp, about her new blog, dancehealthier.com. I’ve watched Jill build dancehealthier.com from afar and am thrilled there’s now a blog of this nature out there. I’ve truly been impressed by her thoughtful, thorough and intellectual reflections as she fleshes out some rather complex topics pertaining to the relationship between dance and health.  Hear what she has to say about the what, why and how of her new project.

 

www.dancehealthier.com

What inspired you to create your blog, dancehealthier.com?

I had been thinking about creating this blog for sometime, but really what triggered its start-up was graduating from college.  While in college, I worked hard studying and preparing to become a health educator, all while knowing that I wasn’t quite ready for my dancing days to be over post-graduation.  Selfishly I use the blog to keep my mind fresh and focused on health related material while gaining a deeper passion for educating others.  I’m thankful that this blog is allowing me to reassure my passion for health while (hopefully) helping others along the way.  One day while interning this summer, I asked my supervisor Jill Vonderhaar Nader, what she thought about the idea, and from then on she encouraged me to press the publish key.  Finally, I believe there is a lack of dancer-specific health education programs out there and so I hope that dancehealthier.com will encourage further growth on the subject.
What is your background with this topic?

I will admit I have a lot more experience and background on the dancer side of the integration.  I have been dancing virtually my entire life, and thankfully professionally for the past 10 years.  Throughout most of my professional career I attended college classes at night, on-line, or in the summers and recently in August, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Health Education with a focus in public health.  I have also interned with Jacqui Haas, director of Dance Medicine Wellington, as well as Jill Vonderhaar Nader at Prehab Pilates and Physical Therapy.
Where do you see this project going/what are your goals in creating the blog?

I don’t know exactly where this project will go but I do have many hopes and ideas.  In many ways I think it is hard to foresee the future and so planning too much sometimes becomes a tricky thing. I’m however optimistic and very hopeful in continuing this blog as long as I feel that people are being impacted.  I have a strong desire to promote and educate dancer wellness, so whether that means I take it upon myself to develop and implement programs myself, or work to spread the already existing programs out there, is still undecided.  Other goals of mine include providing health workshops for summer dance programs around the country, promote community dancer health programs, and holding health conventions/seminars for professional ballet dancers.  How I get there, or whether I do is all in the process.
Do you find that health is encouraged in the dance world? Are there mixed signals at times for dancers?

One reason for starting up this blog is that I believe there is a lack of emphasis or encouragement for overall health promotion in the dance world.  Other than a rare nutritionist talk here or there (which let’s be honest – is not always so helpful), there tends to be an overall lack of education on balanced health.  My blog is built around the theory which I believe lacks emphasis in the dance world.  The theory of balanced health includes six dimensions, all pulling from different directions to create a continuum of balance and purposeful direction to self.  These dimensions include physical, social, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental.  Dancers have a high level of demand for performance, often times feeling pressure to be perfect.  The loads of pressure and stress that is put on a dancer, especially at a young age, often times creates mixed signals for dancers.  These mixed signals can often times lead to poor health decisions.  However, with proper attention to educating and promoting health, I hope that dancers of all ages can put more thought and attention into making dance/health related decisions.  Ultimately, peak performance is generated when dance and health work in concert.
What do you do to stay healthy? How do you integrate health into your dance practice?

No one is perfect, and I will be the first to admit that to be in “perfect health” (if there is such a thing) would be impossible.  Balance, however in my mind, has always been a key characteristic of health.  In high school I advocated for a sense of balance from my strict but amazing ballet teacher, Timothy Draper.  Now looking back, I think he understood my needs more than I thought, when he ACTUALLY allowed me to go to my high school prom, as well as attend my senior trip to Boston.  I extended this trend later on when I attended college while dancing professionally, as well as always finding time for “non-dance” related activities.  So I guess, the way I stay healthy is by balancing myself. Balancing my professional career, my education, my family, my friends, my social life, my eating, my mind, and where I spend my time.  I find that when I’m most balanced, I’m most confident and my dancing feels the best.

Jill (seemingly in a moment of good health!)

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Written by Julia Erickson

Julia Erickson, originally from Seattle, is a Principal Dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Julia received her training on a scholarship with Pacific Northwest Ballet School and San Francisco Ballet School. She toured to Europe and Asia with PNB and danced with the Fort Worth Dallas Ballet (now Texas Ballet Theater) for two seasons, prior to joining PBT in 2001. Some of Julia’s favorite roles include Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, The Sylph in La Sylphide, Stompers in Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room, Lady Capulet in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette, and the leads in Balanchine’s Who Cares?, Agon, Prodigal Son and Serenade.

Julia is also the creator of Barre, a real food bar made by dancers for everyone. A lover of cooking and self-professed foodie, she’s thrilled to be able to combine her two major passions, ballet and food, in creating Barre. She’s constantly experimenting in the kitchen with that trusty Cuisinart to develop new dancer taste- and performance-tested formulas. In her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, Gyrotonic and Pilates, reading all her old New Yorker magazines that seem to pile up, farmers markets, listening to rap, bluegrass, and Arcade Fire (with the occasional secret sprinkle of Hall and Oats in there as well!), going on bike rides with her partner, Aaron Ingley, and watching The Wire. She is also a senior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Political Science and Business. She wishes to thank her friends and family for their incredible love, support, and inspiration, and wishes to implore the citizens of Seattle to bring the Supersonics back to the Emerald City!