VAIL, Colorado - Local sports chiropractor Mark Pitcher is familiar with treating professional dancers through his work with the Vail International Dance Festival, but traveling halfway across the world to work with Fang Yi Sheu, Taiwanese dancer and choreographer, at the Taiwan National Theater was a brand new experience all together.
Pitcher, a chiropractor and exercise physiologist with Vail Integrative Medical Group, first met Fang Yi Sheu while she was performing with at the 2012 Vail International Dance Festival. Fang Yi invited Pitcher to travel with her and her dance company to London, Germany and India. Two to three months of travel was not realistic for Pitcher, who is part of the successful multi-disciplinary sport medicine practice, Vail Integrative Medical Group. Fang Yi requested that Pitcher travel to Taipei, Taiwan, to provide sports therapy during the premiere of her collaborative work, "Timeless." The work featured three works. "Five Movements and Three repeats" featured Fang Yi, New York City Ballet principal dancers Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle and New York City Ballet Soloist Craig Hall. Her own dance company Way Out performed an amazing high energy piece choreographed by Fang Yi. She also performed a duet with the incredible Akram Khan called "Gnosis".
Pitcher was able to tour some of Taipei City, but spent much of his time at rehearsals and the performances themselves. He joked, "There were a few long days, but there was always time for dumplings."
Although there were a few instances where the dancers and musicians needed immediate treatment so they could carry on the performance, most treatment was directed at addressing less acute problems that impacted the dancer's quality of movement.
Dancers present some unique challenges to the manual therapist. To maintain their craft, dancers practice every single day.
"While that practice and repetition yields incredible results artistically, it can lead to overuse injuries and some characteristic muscle imbalances," Pitcher said.
"He helped to diagnose and explain to me issues that I had been struggling with in my back and hip for most of this past year," Whelan said. "Upon seeing him, my body has finally begun to unravel and unlock its deep holding pattern."
From our seats in the audience we think of them first as artists, but make no mistake, they are also high level athletes. This is why sports medicine practitioners like Pitcher become an integral part of a dance company's support team.
"When Fang Yi and Akram Khan tell everyone that there might not have been a performance without you, you feel pretty darn good," Pitcher said.
This recent trip to Taipei, was described by Pitcher as one of the best work assignments. He credits his and VIMG's work with the Vail International Dance Festival for exposing him to the international dance community. Although travelling while maintaining a busy practice is challenging, he looks forward to additional projects like this in 2013.
Vail Integrative Medical Group is a nationally renowned clinic specializing in a comprehensive team approach to sports and spinal injuries. They have three locations in Vail, Edwards, and Eagle, Colorado. Visit them online at www.vailhealth.com or on www.facebook.com/myvimg.
Pitcher specializes in rehabilitative medicine. For information visit www.vailhealth.com or follow Pitcher's blog at www.markjpitcher.com.