Ballet West continually strives to ensure that safety and preventative measures are an integral part of every season. At its core is Ballet West's Wellness Team, which includes Intermountain Health working with the dancers this entire season. 

Intermountain's teams include TOSH (The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital), who are on site for Ballet West dancers in the studio with a variety of services from physical therapy, athletic trainers, primary care, dietetics, biomechanics, specialists and a sports psychologist.

The team also performs a health screening on the dancers periodically to ensure that the dancers are staying healthy, and to address any new injury or health problem early, before it impacts their dancing. 

“These athletes are elite athletes,” Bentley said during a recent interview with KSL News. “They’re always looking for a better way to make sure that they’re ready for the stage and also making sure to take care of their bodies. And it’s nice for us to be able to teach them that.”

Jennifer Bentley, Intermountain Healthcare Provider

As a former dancer, Bentley understands the need to prevent injuries. "That's one of our main differences with this partnership is we're focusing a lot more on preventative care," she said, which includes a focus on nutrition, mental health, and wellness checks throughout the season.

"We test their cardio fitness to see if they will have the proper endurance for dance," said Bentley. "The dancers meet with our sports dietitian to make sure they are meeting their nutritional needs. The dancers' range of motion and strength are assessed to see if there are any deficits that could impact their ability to dance. This also allows us to see if there are any asymmetries between the right and left sides."

"We also check a range of functional tests to check their balance, endurance, and overall movement patterns," she continued. "These tests help show us how the dancers perform more complex movements, which helps us predict if they are at increased risk for injury. The dancers also meet with our company physician to review any medical problems so they can stay healthy throughout the season."

Ballet West has also partnered with Intermountain Health for a video series featuring a conversation with caregivers and dancers discussing common health questions and tips that the public can use themselves. One video focuses on correct lifting technique in both ballet and daily life. In another video, a Company dancer talks about key strategies for reducing the risk of a back injury.

In classical ballet, dancers can develop shoulder and neck soreness from holding their arms in first through fifth positions repetitively, so stretches are also shown in the video series to improve shoulder blade position and alleviate neck tension. Poor posture can also affect dancers and nondancers alike, which can lead to tension headaches, muscle aches and pains, or neck and back pain, so the videos share techniques for addressing the issue.

"These are athletes at the highest caliber," said Ted Hugunin, Intermountain Health's Sports Performance Director. "It is an honor to be able to help provide medical rehabilitation and assist them back to the studio and onto the stage."

View the videos from both seasons HERE.