Heal/Tell Kate

March 4th, 2013 by Kris

Kate is a student at the University of New England, in Maine.  She had to give up ballet as a senior in high school because of her chronic pain.

Be sure to see selections from our Portraits of Pain series “Heal/Tell” at the Biddeford arts organization Engine, at 265 Main Street in downtown Biddeford.  The exhibit will open Friday, March 8 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will run through April 6.

After my AT and back injury, the hips were the next to go, and the most severe pain. My hips still hurt every single day, even when not dancing, from the constant rotation and overexertion. Ballet is not safe unless practiced correctly. Even walking from point A to point B hurts. I saw a discussion saying ballet dancer injuries are the most severe next to football. I’d love to see the research behind that.

Thera-bands are for tone and strength—these are my favorite.  I use them now for strengthening I didn’t get in PT.  The second a dancer enters a studio for the first time he or she should be presented with one of these and taught strengthening exercises.

These [new pointe shoes] are bright, shiny, innocent.  They have not seen the depth of the stage, the hours of rehearsal, and not seen the blood, sweat, or tears caused by intense training.  Of course, they have not seen disgustingly blistered and calloused feet.

If I had told my teachers I was injured they would see that as weakness. Pain and injuries changed my mindset.  If I could endure the pain of an injury and become okay in the end, I could handle anything life throws at me.

… when I told my parents I couldn’t dance anymore, my senior year of high school, they hugged me. It’s hard trying to get over everything that I have worked for my entire life being taken away–at 18– for something I didn’t want. I didn’t want med school; I only wanted a studio. That’s a midlife crisis before graduating high school.

Not until I came to UNE, did I realize there’s place for me.  I know the development and hardships of a dancer and I want to apply my experience as a dancer with medical training and injury prevention.

Heal/Tell is a series of narrative and portraits by Cathy Plourde, Director of Add Verb Productions and Holly Haywood of the University of New England.

Learn more about the 11th Annual UNE Interprofessional Spring Symposium: the Science of Pain and the Art of Healing, April 4, 2013, Biddeford Maine.