Written by Katherine Stewart
External Affairs Coordinator at See Chicago Dance; Dancer with Stefany Cotton Choreography and Peckish Rhodes Performing Arts Society
When watching my colleagues dance their hearts out in class and onstage, I realize one thing: dancers are superheroes. They bound and stretch and spring into action. They accomplish incredible physical feats while sharing their most intimate, emotional expressions. They are extraordinary—and they live and work among us. Yet performing to their physical and mental limits can take a toll, and not every dancer has access to care for a safe, quick recovery. This year, See Chicago Dance (SCD) is stepping in to connect Chicago’s dancers with critical wellness resources at our Day of Dancer Health.
Day of Dancer Health offers a free, full day of comprehensive assessments and consultations with healthcare professionals. Certified volunteers conduct physical, mental, and nutritional screenings to give dancers a better understanding of their aptitudes and areas to strengthen. Day of Dancer Health also features a Lunchtime Lecture series on timely wellness topics, an Expo Hall with local health and wellness businesses, and healthy snacks.
Day of Dancer Health aligns with SCD’s vision for a healthy and vibrant dance sector. My life (and those of my colleagues) is a balancing act between jobs, performing, and self-care. I, like many others, have experienced injury, fatigue, and burnout. Nearly two thirds of dancers and choreographers in Chicago live below the poverty line, and a consistent 12 percent work without pay. In a study by the National Institutes of Health, 82 percent of surveyed dancers had suffered between one and seven injuries. Yet the driving force that keeps dancers going is a passion that is so consuming and energizing, it makes up for the sacrifices. SCD understands this sacrifi ce and is providing support to keep dancers thriving in our art form.
With a future that often feels uncertain and rife with uphill battles, our artists need to feel healthy and productive. Dancers provide art that is transformative, eye-opening, and enlivening. We need beauty and creativity today more than ever. Dancers can continue adding to the vibrancy of our city’s cultural tapestry, but healthy dancers ensure that tapestry lives well into the future.
Day of Dancer Health Monday, April 22 9am–4:30pm Menomonee Club, Drucker Center, 1535 N Dayton St. Free; must register for health screening