The posture of a dancer is visibly
evident. Just watch a Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts dancer walk down
Main Street in Torrington with her back held straight, her shoulders
pulled back and an air of confidence. That posture is what makes those
beautiful body lines you will see on the stage at Warner Theatre when
the Nutmeg Summer Dance Festival opens in July.
Ballet is such a graceful art that sitting in a theater watching a
performance one could be fooled into thinking that the dancers are
floating across the stage. But that’s an illusion. Ballet dancers, like
ball players, skaters, gymnasts, etc., are athletes who must keep their
bodies in peak condition in order to perform to the best of their
ability. A good diet, vitamin supplements and stretching at the ballet
barre help keep a dancer fit. But being supple and fit and maximizing a
body’s potential takes more and that’s where Stephen M. Apatow comes in.
Apatow is the founder and director of the Sports Medicine and Science
Institute, which has a base at the Conservatory. As a former dancer and
a 1989 Nutmeg graduate, he understands the importance of the body’s
need to be in balance, or in other words, perfectly aligned. He works
with students, teachers and guest artists at Nutmeg to help them
achieve that body balance.
“I assess the dancers to see if they have posture challenges that can
be corrected. When movement of a joint is restricted, specific
stretches are utilized to give it new range of motion. When a dancer
has been training one way for a long time, a joint may need to be
retrained to give it better range of motion,” Apatow said.
He teaches the dancers and his other clients the specific exercises to
increase flexibly and motion of the joint. “Then I take them to the
barre and do technical classical ballet corrections and retrain them in
the classical ballet specifics. Sharon and I have worked together on
these exercises and positions for over 20 years.”
Apatow first brought his program to Nutmeg when executive director
Sharon Dante asked him to work with Cheryl Madeux as she prepared for
the 1990 Lausanne international ballet competition. His work resulted
in an increased range of motion in her hips, and her spinal and
shoulder alignment and cervical spine alignment was corrected. And she
could do an amazing split!
“After working with Cheryl she went from opening a 160 degree split to
a 180 degree split,” he said.
The one-month intensive program Apatow designed for Madeux resulted in
her moving to the next technical level of performance, an
accomplishment it was believed she could not have done through the
classical ballet program alone. It also paid off when she became the
only American finalist at the Prix de Lausanne.
The Sports Medicine and Science Institute and International
Dancescience Development Program emphasizes the importance of postural
analysis, based on the classical ballet mechanical ideal, according to
the website. However, there’s more to it than that.
“Stephen is our biomechanics expert and he works with the students and
the staff. He is also available to people in the community,” Dante said.
Apatow works with people who have musculoskeletal issues or ailments,
including entrapment neuropathies, scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis,
asthma, fibromyalgia, friedreich ataxia, multiple sclerosis and more.
He is available by calling Nutmeg and making an appointment. Apatow has
used his biomechanics expertise with Olympic athletes and has even
helped veterinarians with canine and equine cases.
To schedule an appointment with Stephen Apatow, call The Nutmeg
Conservatory for the Arts at 860-482-4413 ext 308. To purchase tickets
for the Nutmeg Summer Dance Festival on Friday July 27 at 8 p.m. or
Saturday July 28 at noon, call the Warner Theatre box office at (860)
489-7180 or online at www.warnertheatre.org.
Nuggets: Staying in peak condition: Register Citizen,
Connecticut, 13 June 2012.