By Rati Pednekar
Injuries, rejection, stereotypes and stigma - performing artists face a number of setbacks throughout their careers. Whether you want to maintain your body or find new avenues of work, there are plenty of tips and tricks available online. In this article, we’re taking a look at how you can manage your mental health during times of struggle.
I say ‘taking a look’ because there’s no one right answer. Each person requires a solution unique to them, a piece of their own puzzle. Therefore, we have curated five stories about setbacks from different performing artists. We are publishing them as a series and hope you’re able to find some inspiration from them.
Here’s Part II!
Are Injuries The End of the Road?
Lakshmy Ramakrishnan has been dancing since she was three but it took 20 odd years for her to face her very first injury. The combination of a midnight shoot, rough flooring, and a scene that required multiple pliés and splits led to a severe ankle sprain.
Those first few months of not dancing or performing at shows like she usually did was hard. But she dealt with it by going back to teaching Bharatanatyam to children. Not only did it keep her busy but also allowed her to maintain her connection with dance.
“Teaching children gave me hope and helped me get better. If I was sitting idle I would have lost my mind.”
Then came the news that the injury was permanent. Lakshmy learnt that she wouldn’t be able to do certain dance styles at a stretch, including Kalari and folk dance.
“It is still difficult because I love folk and garba and dandiya, all the jumpy stuff, and I can’t do it constantly anymore. I tried to push through the pain because I’d seen a lot of the people around me do the same. But at the end, I need to think about my long-term health.”
Ultimately, Lakshmy says she just had to accept it. She holds on to the fact that, thankfully, she can still do Bharatanatyam. Otherwise, she is now honing her skills in the other areas of dance — choreography, music, direction. She was always interested in these but her injury pushed her to pursue it further.
“I’m now learning keyboard, mridangam, nattuvangam (musical instruments), Carnatic vocals, yoga, karanas (a form of movement), which will support me in the future if I can’t dance. I have also directed a few productions. Injuries are a part of dance, you just have to accept it and see how you can mould dance without affecting your injury too much.”
To avoid injuries, Lakshmy suggests paying close attention to warm-up and cool-down routines as relaxing the muscles is very important.
“Knowing your injury and its boundaries is very important as well. Everyone should be careful and think about the longer perspective.”
Lakshmy’s story shows that a permanent injury doesn’t translate to a permanent setback. There are always new ways to engage with your passion.
This was Part II of our Dealing with Setbacks Series. Read Part III to learn how Fatema Arif, an actress, navigated a world of constant rejection.