This month, we talked to the lovely Kirsten Wicklund about topics that are so valuable to our community of young dancers. You may know Kirsten from her artistic Instagram page, beautiful choreographic work, or as dancer with Ballet BC. As young artists, dancers, and movers, we will all encounter bumps in our journey – whether this be injury, self-discovery, or finding time to take care for yourself. Let Kirsten’s insightful words of advice provide inspiration and motivation through these times.
How do you take the time to care for yourself with a busy schedule?
It is often a challenge! I make sure that I create a very specific routine that always includes meal prep for optimal nutrition and wind down time. This helps me restore my body as best I can at the end of a long rehearsal or show day. Time in the evenings to ice/heat, do a self-massage, and have time to get my body into healing mode before I sleep is crucial! I carve out time for yoga or other self practices as much as possible. Even taking time to sit down and read, write, or listen to a favourite album for 20 minutes can be of huge value and keeps me sane!
How do you define your individuality as an artist, dancer, and creator?
I think my individuality comes from my deep passion to move, and everything stems from this place. Without movement I feel dull, stuck, and even trapped with no sense of purpose! Movement creates a purpose for me, and I think that whatever stems from that is uniquely me. My own distinct passion and desire to move has blossomed into many ideas for me inside of the art form.
What challenge are you most proud of overcoming? How did you overcome it?
I recently rehabbed 3 displaced fractures in my foot plus a fully blown out ankle sprain. I was stranded on a couch with crutches for almost 2 months before I even took any first steps. I was lucky to not require a surgery but it took many months of patience, intense rehabilitation, and missing movement in the process. I spent many hours in the studio and gym, often by myself, to get my body recovered and retrained back to a place of strength, coordination and ability. It is hard to watch everything you have worked so hard for no longer be physically possible…I am very proud to have overcome this injury and I feel truly stronger and wiser in my body because of it. The help of all of my therapists and practitioners was crucial, from physiotherapy to osteopathy, cranio-sacral therapy, Chinese medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture (you name it, I accessed it!). No amount of support was too much to help my body sort itself out again! The support I received from my fellow dancers and teachers was also a huge factor in my recovery - especially in terms of my mental and emotional well-being throughout the process.
With the new age of social media and the internet, has this component of life positively or negatively impacted your dancing and career?
I think that overall, social media is a positive factor because dance requires an audience to be reached. Without an audience, we are making art for no one and it is meant to be shared and enjoyed in my opinion. If social media and the internet means that dance and art will reach more people, then ultimately I am all for it! The way we can spread ideas and emotions through this art form has power to change people, and this is another platform that we can spread those things to more people. Wherever they may be in the world, social media can even inspire someone to go see a live dance performance one day! I use it as a platform to share my dance story, my inspirations, our performances, our collaborators and hopefully inspire people to see more art and engage with it on a deeper level.
Have you struggled with injury in your career? What advice would you give to younger dancers on preventing and overcoming this challenge?
Injury is always possible, it can happen when you least expect it, or it can develop over time. My best advice is to be preventative regarding injury. Take cross training seriously in whatever way you can. Do Pilates, yoga, swimming, climbing, biking, gyro tonics, physiotherapy or anything you are interested in that can help your body develop strength and alignment in various ways. Becoming a well-rounded mover can balance your body out so that you will dance better, meaning your body may cope with the wear and tear of dance in a more efficient way. Be patient with your body, and treat it with love. Do things that feel good and it will likely respond kindly! Lastly, use the support of your teachers and therapists. You do not need to have all the answers, but together with other experts you can move your way through many physical limitations! Injuries can be frustrating and emotional – but ultimately choose to see the possibilities in each injury. You can learn and gain so much, and you will grow and transform along the way!
You can find more from Kirsten on her Instagram page: @kirstenwicklund.