Training the Next Generation
Pre-Professional Program Audition
for the 2017–2018 School Year
Feb 25 and April 22, 2017
Supervised Residential Program available
19 Clarendon Street, Boston
Photo by Igor Burlak Photography
HOW TO GET BETTER
With any addiction, early intervention is key.
But this treatment is complicated because you
cannot ask a dancer to abstain from exercise.
Instead, experts recommend replacing the prob-
lematic exercise program with a new one that
may break the cycle. “So if you can’t stop going
to the gym, let’s do swimming instead of run-
ning,” says Richardson. “Or let’s do Pilates.”
Doctors must establish what the addiction
is accomplishing for the dancer. “Addiction is
a solution to a problem it cannot solve,” says
Goonan. What need is the exercise trying to
meet? Is it helping them to feel less sad? Do
they need treatment for depression?
Yet it appears that there may be a troubling disconnect between the prevalence of
exercise disorders among dancers and the
relative rarity that those dancers get psychological treatment. Richardson believes that
exercise addiction is common among dancers.
But Goonan says that he rarely sees dancers
to treat this issue. There are several possible
reasons for this disparity. Many dancers do
not see it as an issue but just part of how
they are committed to their career. Goonan
also suggests that it may be because only the
people closest to the dancer can identify the
addictive nature of their behavior, since no
stranger is going to think twice if they see a
dancer using the elliptical every day.
If you observe a friend struggling with
exercise addiction, take the responsibility seriously. “Tell them you are worried and what
you have noticed,” Douaihy says. “Ask them,
‘Would you mind talking to someone?’ ” If
they don’t get the help they need, Douaihy
suggests telling an artistic staff member. “It can
create conflict, but the reality is that you may
save this person’s life.” n
FOUR PHASES OF
Recreational phase: The exercise has a clear benefit. “It’s done for health, fit-
ness, stamina or injury rehabilitation,” says psychologist Dr. Brian Goonan. “It’s
a necessary element that is beneficial.”
At-risk phase: Exercise is being used as an escape. “It starts to extend beyond
what its intended purpose is,” Goonan says. You are doing cardio to increase
stamina, but it also helps you feel better after a fight with your roommate.
Problematic phase: You keep pushing forward despite having reached your
goal. “You think, If running 3 miles was good, then 5 must be better,” says
Goonan. You may begin lying about how much you have been exercising.
Addiction: “Your life becomes organized around exercise,” Goonan says. “You
have to be late to your sister’s rehearsal dinner because the plane lands at 3
and you need to get a 5-mile run in.” You think constantly about when, where
and how you will get a workout in even if it’s detrimental to other facets of your