include depressed mood, trouble concentrating, signi;cant weight loss or gain, sleeping
more or less than usual, decreased interest in
dance or other activities that normally make
you happy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt,
or thoughts of suicide.
Goonan says that some of the dancers he
treats for depression feel like they want to quit
dance completely. This reaction is normal and
does not mean that you should, or will, stop
dancing. “Part of the developmental process is
coming to a point where you make a conscious
decision to push harder and keep dancing.”
WHAT TO DO
First, reevaluate your goals, advises Goonan.
Are you setting yourself up to feel like a
failure? Instead of having the goal to dance in
American Ballet Theatre, aim for something
you have control over, like going to Pilates
twice a week to increase your core strength.
Also, ;nd mentors who can help you iden-
tify the difference between a plateau and actual
limitations. If a teacher who knows you well
tells you that you can do it, believe them.
Diversifying your life can also help. Find
a hobby that makes you happy and nurture it.
Make space for the people that you love.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to seek
professional help. Ask your physical therapist
or trainer if they can recommend licensed
psychologists who work with dancers. You
can also contact the Performing Arts Medicine
Association for referrals. Goonan says that
con;dentiality is key: Talk to someone who
is not able to share anything you say with
your company or school so that you can be
completely open. If your symptoms become
severe, or last for an extended period of time,
medication may become necessary. Being
treated for depression does not mean you are
weak, but it will make you stronger. ■
The Ailey School is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Dance and is
authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students.
Your career as a versatile dancer begins at The Ailey School’s Professional Division.
Receive first-class training in a variety of full-time programs that provide a strong
foundation for success.
Curriculum includes ballet, Horton, Graham-based modern, jazz, and more.
Perfectionism can backfire if
you fall short of your goals.