In a move likely to inspire dancers across the city to get up and boogie, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic has launched the Dancer Wellness Program. A community health initiative piloted in 2015 in partnership with the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine and stakeholders in New Orleans’s professional dance community (burlesque, ethnic, erotic, modern, ballet, indigenous and parade dancers), the Program uses targeted activities to address some of the most pertinent issues facing dancers of all kinds.
Having recently been awarded partial funding from the Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans 2016 Arts & Culture team, the Program and all of its endeavors aim to assist dancers in their pursuit to keep performing. The brains behind the Dancer Wellness Program are responsible for monthly workshops designed to mitigate poor health and reduce the risk of occupational injury among other things.
The inaugural installment took place in September and focused on the hip, while October’s will place emphasis on the shoulder. The next workshop, which will take place November 21, is open to the public and free to attend, with dancers of all skill levels invited to participate.
As program directors explain to OffBeat, “the idea for the Dancer Wellness Program was born in part out of the diversity of dancers in the city and the unique needs they have. After all, if the arts and culture tourism industry is the most powerful driver of the New Orleans economy, shouldn’t the performers be cared for in ways that recognize their contribution to this sector and value their future participation in it?” Furthermore, the Program embraces the city’s ethnic diversity. According to Program Supervisor Erica Dudas, the Program wouldn’t be what it is without the help of Jamilah Peters Muhammad at the Ashe Cultural Center, where “ethnic dancers are getting behind the effort to see how health and preventative care can bring performers of all backgrounds together.”
But beyond its focus on dancers in New Orleans, another aspect that makes this program unique is its drawing from lessons learned in performance medicine and sports-specific care. As Program Director Lindsay Gastright tells us, “You wouldn’t treat a basketball player the same way you treat a football player,” and that’s the perspective used by the Dancer Wellness Program’s health and medical professionals.
Learn more by visiting http://neworleansmusiciansclinic.org/community-programs/dwp, or interact on social media using the hashtag #wellnessonpointe.