BOSTON (CBS) – What do the New England Patriots, the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Ballet have in common? A doctor to keep all the athletes in top shape.
Ballet dancers are hardcore athletes and stamina is one key to success.
Now, Dr. Thomas Gill is an important part of the Boston Ballet Company, using his experience on the football field and baseball diamond to help dancers on the stage.
Watch a dancer with the Boston Ballet, the grace– the strength, the muscle control and the extreme stress the dancers put on their bodies.
“We communicate through illusion and we practice and practice so everything looks easy, and it’s tremendously physical,” says Mikko Nissinen, the Ballet’s Artistic Director.
Which brings us to soloist Roddy Doble who is rehearsing two shows right now, the current Obsidian Tear and the upcoming holiday classic The Nutcracker. Roddy had been lucky for a long time with no serious injuries, but then it happened.
“Once I did, I did it big. I blew out my ACL in a performance of The Nutcracker,” Doble says.
That was three years ago. After knee surgery and nine months of rehab, the injury ruptured, “which is when I met Dr. Gill,” Doble says.
Dr. Thomas Gill is a sports medicine expert. He’s now the Ballet’s Medical Director and Gill’s surgery on Roddy did the trick.
“I’ve been around athletics my whole career,” says Dr. Gill.
Gill’s long career has including taking care of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, Boston Breakers, and Cannons. Working with dancers isn’t that different. Its art, not sport, but it is still athletics.
“We ask extremes of our bodies. You can burn out very quickly or you can cause damage that will prevent you from having a long career,” Doble says.
The pressure on a dancer’s body is enormous.
“If you think about an average football play, it lasts six, seven seconds and if you look at the solos a dancer does that can be five minutes, seven minutes, ten minutes,” Dr. Gill says. “Tendonitis problems, shin splints, stress fractures,” are typical injuries according to Gill.
Dr. Gill or a colleague is at every performance. “It’s exactly like being on the sideline of a Patriots’ game,” he says.
Similar to a game, they’re ready to run onto the field or stage.
That’s reassuring to these athletes. “He’s that safety net for us,” says Doble.
Dr. Gill is clearly a sports fan, but he was also a ballet fan well before becoming the company’s medical director. So it’s a great match.
“Come to a performance and look at the heights that they jump, the amount of twists that they can do. It’s really remarkable,” Gill says.