Dancing for the Rockettes: From Pain to Pilates!

Dancing for the Rockettes: From Pain to Pilates!

I was living every girl’s dream of dancing with the famous Radio City Rockettes when the dream quickly became a living nightmare. Through an off-handed comment by the Rockette’s head choreographer, I was thrown into the world of Pilates. It not only saved my body and dancing career but spring-boarded me into a new career as a Pilates instructor with a deep heart to help those in pain.

Despite dancing intensely my entire life, during my first season of dancing with the Rockettes, my body ached as I’d never imagined. Even though I have scoliosis, it was my knees that were killing me. The pain became so intense over the short three weeks that we had to learn the entire show, the manager of my cast brought me to an orthopedist’s office after hours the night before the opening show. I was given lidocaine patches to put on my knees, Mobic to take orally, knee braces I was to wear whenever I wasn’t on stage, told that I needed to ice my knees for 30 minutes after every show, and do physical therapy as many times a week as the PT came to work on the cast.

I did about 105 shows in six weeks. There were many days when I had four, two-hour shows to perform. On those days, there was one hour in between shows, so I’d ice my knee for 30 minutes, then warm up my knees again and put on my first costume for the next show. Everyone else in the cast seemed to be having the time of their life. Not me. I was in pain, and the pain never eased.

At the end of the season, the head choreographer told me that I wasn’t strong and needed to do Pilates. I was floored at her comment because I was bursting with muscle and had never been so fit in my life.

Despite the argument going on in my head about how strong I was, I went to my first group Pilates reformer class (wearing my knee braces) a week after the Rockette season ended. I learned very quickly that the choreographer was right. I wasn’t strong—at least in the Pilates sense.

From simply doing group Pilates Reformer classes, my pain evaporated at the end of the first month, and I threw my knee braces away. Pilates was life-changing for me, and I was hooked for life. I started a Pilates teacher training program a few months after that to fuel my new obsession.

When the next Rockette season came around, I was a comprehensive Pilates instructor, pain-free, and Pilates strong for the first time in my life. I breezed through my next season with the Rockettes and experienced the joy of pain-free dancing with them for the first time.

Happy Holidays!

Erin Myers is an international presenter and author of multiple books on scoliosis, including Analyzing Scoliosis: The Pilates Instructor’s Guide to Scoliosis and I Have Scoliosis; Now What?. She is a Balanced Body Master Instructor and Founder of Spiral Spine, a company dedicated to enriching the lives of those with scoliosis. Erin was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager and went on to dance with the Radio City Rockettes. She has since created several books, apps, workshops, and workout videos on scoliosis while continuing to work with scoliotic clients at her Nashville-based Pilates studio, Spiral Spine Pilates. FB: @spiralspine, IG: Spiral_Spine



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