The Evil Imp

Why It’s Different

It sometimes comes up in conversation why things are different for professional dancers compared to other folks doing their particular, non dance, job. Why do we focus on dancer’s pay and health provision so much, what’s all the fuss about?

There are many reasons why the work of a professional dancer is “different” but here are a few examples focused on just one category;

Broken foot, broken leg, broken arm, dislocated shoulder, dislocated elbow, torn rotator cuff, dislocated knee-cap (particularly nasty that one), spinal cord damage, broken neck, concussion, torn knee ligaments, torn hamstring, separated hamstring, multiple bone fractures, fractured ribs, broken ribs, micro fractures (usually associated with a point of multiple impacts like shins, knees or forearms), sprained ankles, sprained wrists, multiple variations of neck injuries, viral infections (caused by other physical injury), lower back pain (various levels of severity), upper back pain (various levels of severity), hip-flexor damage, crepitus, cuts and bruises (various degrees of severity), arthritis, broken toes and fingers (and multiple variations thereof), exhaustion……

Need we go on? These injuries and hundreds more like them are a real possibility almost every working day of a professional dancer’s career.

If you’re a dancer or you work in this business alongside them there is a pretty good chance you know someone who has suffered one or more of the injuries mentioned above.

A professional athlete will train strenuously to be good at just one thing, running down a track, vaulting over a pole, etc. Dancer’s on the other hand have to train strenuously to deal with a multitude of physical challenges very few of which are natural in any way, shape or form.

According to Dance UK 83% of dancers will get injured at some point compared to just 16% of rugby players. A comforting thought in an industry with no viable health care protection. If a dancer gets hurt and a physio can’t help quickly enough then they are out of a job and on their own, end of story.

DanceUK is still struggling to raise £400,000 after more than three years to kick start a dancers health insurance and research project. It’s a very strange situation because ACE have, by their own admission, spent more than £100Million on new dance buildings.

Perhaps the problem is we can’t cut ribbons or have press photo shoots for the processing of health insurance forms.

There was a time when ACE, and others, cited dancers as, very obviously, the most important cog in the professional machine. We’ll venture that the words were easier to conjure than actions to back them up.

Being a professional dancer is very very hard. Being a professional dancer can be very very dangerous. Being a professional dancer is very very different.