DanceWell Podcast is dedicated to exploring 360-degrees of health and wellness for dancers. We believe that health and wellness isn’t just about physical well-being, but encompasses the whole self. With this philosophy at our core, we bring you bi-monthly episodes in which we talk with all sorts of practitioners including: dietitians, body-workers, medical doctors, athletic trainers, physical therapists, conditioning experts, psychologists and more. We hope these conversations bring you an enhanced understanding of your own health and wellness and help support fulfilling experiences in dance!
Ellie Kusner, Co-Host
As a young child, I fell in love with spring points, the rigor of dance class, and the magical feeling of moving to music. I engaged in professional training at The Boston Ballet School, performing children’s roles and eventually corps de ballet roles in major productions including Swan Lake, Giselle, Serenade, Le Corsaire, and of course, The Nutcracker. Ultimately concluding that a life in pointe shoes was not my destiny, I attended Barnard College in New York City, where I was introduced to modern dance.
After graduating, I danced for Pam Tanowitz, Mark Morris at the Metropolitan Opera, Ellen Cornfield, Patricia Hoffbauer, and many others. In 2010, as a dancer in Pam Tanowitz’s Be in the Gray With Me, I won a Bessie Award. Alongside my performing career, I’ve always taught pilates to dancers and non-dancers.
In 2011, looking to bolster my teaching with more scientific comprehension of the moving body, I moved to London, England to pursue an MSc in Dance Science at Trinity Laban. Dance Science is an interdisciplinary field that investigates dance through various scientific lenses including physiology, psychology, and nutrition. I bring this scientific perspective, in addition to my lived-in understanding of dance, to all of my work. In addition to teaching dance and pilates, I write and lead workshops about health and wellness for dancers. I have published articles in Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines.
I live in New York City with my musician husband and young daughter. I teach at Hofstra University, The Juilliard School, Mark Morris Wellness Center, and sporadically at many other studios and companies throughout the area.
Marissa Schaeffer, Co-Host
I always wanted to be a dancer! At a young age, my parents let me come to New York to spend my vacation time dancing at the various dance intensives the city had to offer. I eventually went on to pursue dance at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance and graduated with a BFA in dance performance. Post graduation, I danced briefly in the city before deciding to change careers.
I earned my doctorate in physical therapy from Columbia University and am a CSCS certified personal trainer. Since 2011, I have worked in Manhattan training clients and conducting cross-training and injury prevention workshops for dancers along the East Coast. I have taught and trained pre-professional dancers from SUNY Purchase, Columbia University and Barnard College, professional and pre-professional dancers from Mark Morris, Doug Varone, Lydia Johnson dance companies, and the American Ballet Theater’s Summer Intensive and have helped hundreds of young dancers at various independent dance studios with my workshop for young dancers Mindful Practice. In 2015, Mindful Practice appeared in Dance Studio Life Magazine’s feature article: Teaching Students How to be Healthy in Mind and Body. I have also presented to dance professionals at the annual conferences of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and the National Dance Education Organization.
I have written and contributed to articles that have appeared on Dance Teacher Magazine.com, WeckMethod.com, qinetic.com, The Epoch Times, and Dance Informa Magazine, maintain my own blog on dancer health and wellness at www.marissatschaeffer.com, and am the Outreach Committee Chair for the American Physical Therapy Association’s Performing Arts Special Interest Group.