Theater dancer recovers from career-threatening injury
A professional dancer from Bay Ridge has found her way back from an injury that threatened her career.
Erin Eloise Tulberg, who is in her mid-30s, has danced for many years for various theater companies around the country. Before she was diagnosed with a labral tear in her hip, she started to experience hip pain in 2012.
“I was performing with a theater company and injured myself and I believe that’s when I got a labral tear, but it wasn’t properly diagnosed at the time,” Tulberg said.
She continued to perform regionally with different theater companies and went to graduate school for theater in London in 2017.
Over time, the pain worsened.
“I had bouts where the pain was so bad that I couldn’t walk to my classes,” she said. “I was sitting down the majority of the time.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she was with a theater company in Virginia and had a moment when she couldn’t lift her leg at all and had to perform.
When theaters were closed during the pandemic, Tulberg decided it was time to deal with her injury. An MRI revealed she also had arthritis and hip dysplasia and hip replacement was recommended.
She got a second opinion and spoke with Dr. Alexander McLawhorn, a hip and knee surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
“He was great,” she said of McLawhorn. “HSS was very conservative in their approach, which I liked.”
She tried physical therapy, dry needling and acupuncture, but they didn’t do much to help the pain.
She scheduled hip replacement surgery in September 2020. Just three months after surgery, she was performing splits, and a year later she feels better than she has in years.
“Now I’m auditioning again for shows,” she said. “I’m having callbacks for shows, on hold for a couple of projects. I feel like I’m able to dance better than I was before. I have a full range of motion, if not better than before I had the replacement done.”
Now, she wants others to know about her experience with the surgery.
“The strangest thing has been figuring out who to talk to, if I should be vocal about having this surgery,” she said. “There is certainly a stigma in the dance world that once you have a hip replacement, your career is over. That was my fear.”
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