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New Dance book tells all: Peterson’s “Dance Medicine”

It is a little of a mystery why dancers even do this art. There is physical struggle for hours upon hours through years to master the art. There are injuries and health and psychological problems common to the field. There is constant criticism, favoritism, and politics.

Then, after all this, a very short career with not much pay.

So why? It seems the pain and pay PALE to the glorious sight and feel of the dance for both audience and dancer.

Reading this book at first I had some trouble to tell to whom it was addressed.  I considered giving it to a certain 13 year old that I know, and asking if she could read it; then I realized that she could, because of the way it is written.

The information that is given is very sophisticated and yet plain in a  medical vocabulary way, and told in a way which can be understood by anyone willing to stick with it and follow the presentation. Terms are defined, and one goes from the general to the particular.

Peterson pulls no punches, can’t tell all in this brief meaty book, but gets the information out there in an available form that this is a whole body consideration. When she asks the rhetorical question which rings so well that we know that she heard that a few times, she tells the story with details, succinctly and from start to finish including pictures.

I have never seen a better explanation of the way the rib cage works with the spine.  As a Rolfer™ I would like to see that fleshed out with more about how the whole body goes with it, but one of us will have to write that book, the one that includes the structural and movement integration building on this book.

In short, this is the book that defines anatomy and kinesiology and physiology and psychology of the dance all together in about 150 pages.  There is so much to learn in here for a parent or teacher in such a short time that the book can be savored over and over again.

This could be a good primer for those who are not that interested in dance since the details and pictures are so well done, and the advice on performance issues goes right into daily life.  (How many are having knee problems and not even dancing!  This will explain.)

However, it is a dance book.  Judith Peterson M.D. has devoted much of her professional life to the care of dancers, and every page drips with her erudition, compassion, and love of the art.

Here, the trailer from the movie written by Lisa Niemi and performed by her and her husband Patrick Swayze, One Last Dance.  See if you can tell which knee Patrick Swayze trashed out when he was with the Joffrey Ballet.  (He hides it pretty well!)

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