So what makes this a trustworthy site regarding dance fitness and health? Because, simply put, it’s coming from someone who is in both the dance world and the medical field.
My name is Tricia Renshaw, and I have been dancing my whole life. Dance was my first true love. When I’m not dancing, it affects my physical, mental, and emotional well-being (and I probably get a bit unpleasant to be around). Dancing grounds me and keeps me sane. I’m totally present when I’m dancing.
As many children do, I started dancing in my formative years. By the age of 9, I was choreographing and putting on dance concerts in my backyard for my friends and neighbors (costumes and all). I knew then that I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up.
I danced 5-6 days a week through high school, and enrolled as a dance major in college. I had a hard time fitting in as a collegiate dancer. I didn’t have as much technical training coming into college as many of the other dancers, but, as one of my good friends said, “You have the soul of a dancer.” While this lack of technique initially put me at a disadvantage, I was hungry for proper technique and determined to improve. To this day, I’m a stickler for technique, as I know first hand what having good technique can do for you. I also know first hand how not having proper technique can affect your development as well as put you at risk for injuries.
Unfortunately, injury is not something I’m a stranger to. While my knees had given me trouble on and off in college, I mostly suffered sprains to my MCL and LCL ligaments (nothing major). My first marked injury came at the age of 23. I had torn the meniscus in my knee and required surgery. Fortunately, I was able to do my rehab with a physical therapist that was a former principal wit Joffrey Ballet Company. This helped my recovery immensely. I was back in class before I knew it, and had someone who could offer their knowledge and expertise from both the dance and physical therapy worlds to guide me through this process.
I remember thinking during my first day of therapy, “Wait a minute… you can do both?” For as simple as it sounds, this was quite a revelation to me. I had already taken one anatomy and physiology course in college, and was applying knowledge from this course to my own dancing as well as to the students I was teaching. Shortly after this, I began to take the necessary pre-requisites so that I could enroll in graduate school for physical therapy.
While my road was not short nor direct (and if anyone wants specific details, I can provide them at a later time), I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dance from Skidmore College in 2008 and went on to earn my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of North Florida in 2011. I continued to dance and teach through graduate school, and was even part of the local company East Coast Ballet Dance Contemporary in Jacksonville Beach as both a dancer and choreographer. When I decided to pursue my degree in physical therapy, it was never to replace dancing. I wanted to do both.
After graduating in 2011, I moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina, as I’m a mountain girl at heart. I dove into my PT career, but essentially lost sight of my dance career for the first 3 years. After some effort on my part, I now have a more balanced life consisting of both physical therapy and dancing. I work in various out-patient and acute care settings practicing as a physical therapist. I’ve even opened my own small, out-patient clinic in Asheville, NC where I practice one or two days a week (www.rtnbpt.com). I serve as an adjunct professor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC in their dance department. And I also teach at the Asheville School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, and am a company member there.
In addition to my experience in both the dance and physical therapy worlds, I have a keen interest in health in general, including nutrition, physical fitness, and mental and emotional well-being. I practice yoga and meditation, and listen to an obscene number of podcasts in the health arena (Shout out to Chris Kresser and Revolution Health Radio and Have it All/Personal Development Without the Fluff to name a couple). Most of what I read comes from the health and wellness arena, and I do a fair amount of research on my own into these topics (and as someone with a Doctorate in the medical field, I have a pretty good idea of what makes an article or study sound and scientific, and I also know when the “science” just doesn’t hold up). Some other ambitions of mine are to earn an advanced degree in nutrition, go on to become a functional doctor and integrative practitioner, and work towards a Masters in Dance, but I’m still working out the details on those, as none are exactly short-term investments.
What I’m offering you through this website is information on dance fitness and health that is supported scientifically. I’ll do the research; you reap the rewards by gleaning up-to-date information from various sources presented to you clearly and in one place. I will also pass on information from case studies, empirical data, and personal experience to let you know what has worked for me and what I’ve seen work for others in the realms of dance, fitness, and health