Life in the Conservatory of Music and Dance

U-News Staff

Beaten up, bruised and exhausted dancers at the Conservatory of Music and Dance do not have life easy.

The average day in the life of a dancer consists of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. non-stop activity with grades relying on the ability to perform in class. It’s pretty simple: If you can’t dance, you fail.

Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Associate Dean of the Conservatory, described a dancer’s routine day as “an intense, stamina-dependent, total-body workout that pushes them to their absolute limits.”

Keeping a body injury-free on this schedule is next to impossible, and not being recognized as a Division I athletic program does not help. In every essence of the word, these individuals are athletes.

Dancers have a problem. Without this D1 title, dancers aren’t allowed to get training from the UMKC athletics facility, even though it is just a short walk from their classes. They are forced to take time out of their rigorous schedules to get simple treatments off campus that recognized athletes at UMKC get for free.

The need for an athletic trainer in the Conservatory is not an opinion that is confined within the brick walls of the Performing Arts Center. Head Athletic Trainer Shelby Brown knows first-hand the struggles dancers face.

“The dancers are machines,” she said. “I don’t know how they do it.”

The treatment these athletes need is specific to their trade. A trainer would need the knowledge of a former dancer or someone very in tune with their needs to properly diagnose and treat an injury.

“The dancers are artists on top of being athletes,” Madison-Cannon said.

With that comes more than a simple ankle taping. Focusing more on alignment, and less on immobilizing, is the recipe for success when it comes to this art.

Treatment is not a suggestion, it is a necessity. Authorities around the university understand that.

“In a perfect world, we would have a practitioner in house that would be solely devoted to the dancers,” Madison-Cannon said.

With the new multi-million dollar Performing Arts campus already in motion, perhaps this need will not go unnoticed.

Currently, help for the dancers is limited to the Student Health and Wellness Center and outside appointments students pay for themselves.

“Professors help guide the dancers to chiropractors, acupuncturists, and trainers that understand dancer’s physical demands,” Madison-Cannon said.

Although helpful efforts are being made, a solution to this crucial problem has proven elusive.

“Perhaps the Conservatory could partner with or push to be sponsored by Truman Medical Center,” Brown said.

With proper insurance this option does not seem unreasonable, but in reality is just a future goal.

Until then, these battered athletes continue to tackle their 12-hour days head on, regardless of injury. For serious dancers, failure is not in the vocabulary.