Halfway Done, with Interruptions

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E at early morning physical therapy

Well, week #2 at Nutmeg’s Summer Intensive didn’t got quite as planned – Es ankle didn’t cooperate with her. Not doing anything particularly strenuous, in a technique class, sharp shooting pains started all over her outer and rear tendons. At first she thought is was just cramping, but once class was over, so was she. X-Rays show no bone issues, but a severe strain and flare up of tendonitis. Tendonitis. To the average person, it just sounds like a minor inconvenience – achiness and knowing when a storm is approaching. But to a ballerina, tendonitis is a very painful reality. When I researched what tendonitis is, I found this easy-to-understand definition: tendons are the strong, cord-like bands of connective tissue that link muscles to bone.  If a tendon is made to work too hard, for too long or in the wrong way, damage and tiny tears develop in the tendons.  So tiny tears – what to do while in a 4-week long ballet intensive?  The “experts” say rest for 1-3 weeks.  Well, that isn’t an option.  So, it was back to PT and observing mostly this week.  Finally on Friday, E got back into one technique class, modified and only on barre, but did dance, and the same for Saturday.  Was is painful for her? Most definitely. Did she push herself? Positively. Is she upset? Absolutely. This seems like a slow recovery, especially to her. Trying to tell a dancer who has been looking forward to this experience since she decided to audition last fall that she can’t participate is like telling a fish he can’t swim but just watch the others do it.  This has definitely put a setback in Es summer training and her enthusiasm for this experience. Will the challenge of injury after injury crush her dreams for a future with ballet after high school? I hope not. Only time will tell and heal, physically and emotionally.

We both have to thank the teachers and staff at Nutmeg, for their compassion, understanding, and modification of Es dancing ability this week.  We both really feel that this was the right place for her this summer – nurturing, compassionate and flexible. Other intensives may have just told E to go home and try again next year. At Nutmeg, they are being very graceful and encouraging her to do what she thinks she can, and take it day to day.

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