Freelance dancer Joey Kipp is primarily trained in classic and modern dance. He recently landed an apprenticeship with Seán Curran Company.
After suffering a severe knee injury in a car accident, Kipp was relegated to a wheelchair for seven months. He spent much of that time working through back exercises created by famed choreographer Merce Cunningham. “It was great for developing my strength and large muscle groups,” he says.
As part of his recovery, Kipp began swimming on a regular basis. “It helped lengthen my muscles, but it allowed me to engage those muscles in a way that wasn’t heavy on my joints.” he says. “I lost a lot of muscle mass after the accident, but swimming and dance have helped me rebuild my body.”
“Currently, I take a lot of classes at the [Paul] Taylor school,” he says. “It’s a lot of jumping and moving through space really quickly. Everyone’s on the floor panting by the end of class.”
Kipp also uses Zumba to stay fit: “It’s a lot of repetition, so if you’re not good at picking up choreography quickly, it’s a great cardio workout.”
Hot dancers, including freelancer and Seán Curran Company apprentice Joey Kipp, rely on hours of daily practice to stay in top shape. But other activities, such as swimming, help boost dance’s benefits and develop long, lean muscles without bulking up any one area.
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How has dancing helped you stay fit?
During my senior year in college, I had a severe injury from a car accident, and I would do lots of back exercises originated by [Merce] Cunningham in my wheelchair. When I was finally able to dance again, I enrolled in a full Cunningham class. It’s very structural and linear, so it was great for focusing on developing my strength and large muscle groups. Once I got stronger, I started doing more master classes at Peridance and Steps—anything to help me get used to having different parts of my body initiate the movement.
How else do you stay in shape?
After my injury, I started swimming a lot because it’s low impact. It helped lengthen my muscles, similar to how dance does, and it allowed me to engage my body in a way that was easy on my joints. Swimming also works my back, my internal and external obliques, and my arms.
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