As you can tell from the title of this podcast episode, I really wanted you to click and listen. So thank you for doing just that! You’ve taken the first step to accessing some incredibly important information that will not only change perhaps some preconceived views on things that are often normalised in the dance world, but also bring you one step closer to being a more supportive teacher, parent or dancer.
One of the most popular episodes of the Balanced Ballerinas podcast is my conversation with Lululemon ambassador, ex-dancer, now yoga teacher, teen guru and soon to be author Alex Mazerolle – affectionately known as Ally Maz! If you’re an OG listener of the podcast you will remember way back to episode number thirty-six when Ally and I discussed period positivity and the importance of not only normalising but celebrating our womanhood in a world such as dance that typically demonises menstrual cycles.
To this day, I still have parents of dancers message to thank me for an episode that provided the space for them to have open and honest conversations with their daughters on the way to school or dance, whilst listening to the episode in the car. Honestly, every time I receive one of these messages it makes me smile.
I feel like todays episode will be as impactful as my one with Ally. Both Dr Nicola Keay and Dr Stefanie Potreck are pioneers and huge advocates of dancers mental and physical health around the world. And whilst Ally’s episode comes with lots of personal stories and heartfelt messages, Nicky and Stephanie have brought all the facts to further strengthen that message. The dance world typically views ‘getting your period’ as a sign of unwanted weight gain or the end of the ‘ideal pubescent body type’ that especially the ballet world seem to be obsessed with. But these two amazing women have had enough and are spreading the message that periods are not only a marker of health but also crucial to mindset, recovery and performance.
Let’s start with Stefanie who is a former dancer turned doctor and sports nutritionist specialising in the treatment of relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) and amenorrhea (which is the medical description for the absence of menstrual periods). Stef also offers a wonderful webinar called LEAP (with another former guest of the podcast, psychologist Philippa Ziegenhardt, hello Philippa!) that assists students and parents with the transition to living, eating, adjusting and performing when training overseas. Honestly, what a fantastic offering. Even though I didn’t move overseas, the move from Queensland to Victoria for my own training was enough of a huge task, draining both physically and mentally and I would have loved to have a program like this.
And Nicky, well she is an Honorary Clinical Lecturer in Medicine at the University College of London, research fellow in the department of Sport and Exercise Science at Durham University, a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine and a speaker on Dance Endocrinology for the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science. On top of all this Nicky is also a qualified ballet and pilates teacher and her aim is to redefine optimal health and fitness for the individual.
So what’s my own aim with this episode? Well if you’re a ballet or dance teacher, I hope you use this information wisely, point students in the right direction and just stop with the normalisation of pubescent bodies in ballet. If you’re a parent of a dancer, please understand that their needs are different to your own, they are athletes and need to be treated as such. And if your a student dedicating a great deal of life to your dance training, well please don’t forget that your health is a massive piece of the puzzle.
Enjoy my conversation with Dr Nicky and Dr Stefanie…
Grit & Grace,