WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)–Memorial auditorium is ready to be transformed into a true winter wonderland for the latest production of The Nutcracker! But this elegant, holiday classic is anything but easy to perform, as ballet happens to be one of the most rigorous and physically demanding activities out there.
Ballet can dish out the same intensity seen in popular sports like football or basketball. Even the most seasoned dancer can agree.
“We are breathing heavy, we are sweating, we are exerting a lot of energy. You know, our job is to make it look effortless but in reality it is not.”
Artistic and executive director of the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre, Mishic Liberatore has been a dancer for more than 20 years, and now as an instructor, she’s well aware of how complicated these moves are in this christmas production.
“I don’t think people realise the amount of muscle strength it takes for a female to stand on their toes to put their full body weight on one leg on their toes,” says Mishic. “The amount of physical strength it takes for the guys to partner and lift the girl over their heads and do all these intricate tricks…”
Add strenuous repetition to lifts and other complicated moves, and it can lead to some pretty nasty results.
“We do have impact injuries,” says Mishic. “I was tossed up in a lift once during nutcracker and came down and the gentleman grabbed my rib the wrong way and it broke…I was actually in a rehearsal once where a gentleman wasn’t even doing a step full out, he just stopped backwards and his achilles tendon just ripped right up his leg. “
Injuries like that are enough to put a dancer out for an entire season or more. Some of the young dancers at WFBT already have tendonitis and bulging discs. In order to help treat and prevent more of these injuries happening to her dancers, Mishic needs doctors like United Regional Orthopedic Surgeon Joshua Schacter, on the sidelines.
“When you think about volume of athletics, when you think about people who are doing things with their bodies, dancers are in the top echelons of athletes in the world,” says Schacter. “Rest is by far the best tincture for any of these injuries…For an acute injury we would treat them in a standard way. For instance, if you tear your ACL in dance, I’m going to treat you the same as I would treat that running back in that we need to do and an ACL reconstruction. On fractures we care for the same way, but the consequences are a little bit different for dancers.”
WFBT and those in the sports medicine department at United Regional are now working close together, in the hopes of treating these performers more like athletes.
Mishic says, “We’ve been really blessed in Wichita Falls that our physicians actually come to see the ballet and they want to learn about what the dancers do, and the steps that they do so they can help treat them better when they do come in with those injuries.”
Despite the physical and emotional challenges associated with danced, these performers are ready to put on a good show!
‘The Nutcracker’ is set to open next Friday at Memorial Auditorium
For a link to show dates and tickets, click here.
If you’d like to set up a sports injury consultation with Dr. Schacter, click here.