Protecting the Health of ‘Artistic Athletes’

Suicide, career-ending injuries and the stress of relentless workouts might seem like problems seen just among elite athletes. But many performing artists also are at a high risk for developing these conditions, says a Chapman University dance professor.

Kish book Cover

Robin Kish, an advocate for entertainer health and an expert teacher of injury prevention techniques, continues to expand her work and research aimed at improving the health of these “artistic athletes.” Two new books co-authored by Kish with Jennie Morton feature strategies and techniques designed to save careers, support mental health and thwart crushing injuries.

“Dancing Longer, Dancing Stronger: A Dancer’s Guide to Improving Technique and Preventing Injury” (Princeton Book Company) presents general principles of injury prevention as well as specific exercises and Q&A discussions of common problems.

In the electronic book “The Embodied Dancer: A Guide to Optimal Performance” (Dance Apps Inc.), the authors offer insights and best practices that will help build healthy and fulfilling dance careers.

In summer 2018, Kish also helped shine a light on the unique health issues facing other entertainment performers. She co-chaired the 36th Annual Performing Arts Medicine Association’s International Symposium on Chapman’s campus, presented with support from the College of Performing Arts and Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

Hundreds of medical and entertainment professionals attended the conferences. Among its highlights was a talk by British singer-songwriter James Blake, who spoke frankly about his depression and the need for more awareness of the mental health crisis affecting performing artists.

During the conference, Kish and Morton, a psychologist and faculty member at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, received the association’s Dawson Award, for contributions to the field of performing arts medicine.

Kish presenting at PAMA