“Being injured is part of our job, it happens, we will get back stronger!” That’s what we say when we try to sweet talk ourselves and make it ok. But it always hurts.
Being injured means dealing with letting go what you love. Its sounds really dramatic, I know… but it is. Of course, one time can be more dramatic than another time. Maybe one time you can’t enjoy the summer holidays fully because you ripped the ligaments in your ankle and have to walk on crutches. That’s not too bad. You will have to use your free summer time not being free to make your ankle stronger. But at least you can dance again after the summer.
To let go what you really love, dancing, is the hardest. At least, for me. Dealing with cancelling performances, both at home and guesting abroad, that you were really looking forward to. And that comes with disappointing people. Your director, your colleagues, all who will have to jump in all of a sudden; gala organisers who have to find a replacement. And dancers hate to disappoint. That’s in our blood. And then you just miss the dancing, the physicality of it. Watching class being injured and see the guys jump is the worst. ‘But hey, I’ll be back in no time!’ But still this injured feeling is there.
I have spoken to many dancers about being injured over the years. It is an interest of mine, because I’ve been injured quite a bit myself. And many dancers feel guilty and have the feeling they are disappointing people around them. There are some who just say, ‘I don’t give a shit, I did my job, I got injured and I have to get back’. I wish I could have that mind-set. I used to be more like that.
Marijn Rademaker Antwerp 1998 When I had just started at the Stuttgart Ballet I was very eager to work hard. I came from a school where they had no boys in my class or above me to look up to. So when I came to the Stuttgart Ballet, I suddenly saw all these guys and they were all amazing. I was like, ok, I really have to put my shit together and work my ass off. Which I did.
But I can see now – like one always realises things in retrospect – that I pushed myself the wrong way. Also, I had just the wrong ballet technique and wasn’t strong enough. One day in the centre I did a double tour from 5th and in the preparation plié there was an extremely loud bang. Even friends standing in the back against the barre heard it.
Ripped meniscus was the diagnosis after an MRI. I went to ‘one of the best’ clinics in Germany. They always say one of the best. That doctor advised me to sew my meniscus together because I was 19 and still so young and I would still need it a lot in my career to protect the cartilage. I understood what he meant it and sounded like it was the best option for me. It meant not dancing for 6 months. A meniscus is tissue that has basically no blood circulation so it takes a very long time to grow together again. Or not at all… which happened to mine. It didn’t grow together. The thread was loose and floating around in my knee and there was a constant clicking sound. I went back and they decided to cut a part of the meniscus out… Op n°2. This was my right knee.