William G. Hamilton, Doctor to Dancers, Is Dead at 90
Invited by George Balanchine to be the in-house orthopedic surgeon at City Ballet in New York, he laid the groundwork for the field of dance medicine.
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Dr. William G. Hamilton, who as the attending orthopedic surgeon for New York City Ballet spent more than 40 years fixing bone spurs, tendinitis, bursitis, torn ligaments and what he called “the Nutcracker Fracture,” died on March 29 at his home in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. He was 90.
His wife, Linda Hamilton, said the cause was congestive heart failure.
Ballet dancers may be the “athletes of God,” as Albert Einstein supposedly said. But until Dr. Hamilton came along, they were treated more like ethereal beings than physical bodies that could crack, tear and otherwise fall apart under the extreme and often unnatural pressures of repeated pliés and grand jetés.
In fact, it was George Balanchine, the choreographer who famously insisted that his dancers stoically work through their stubbed toes and sprained ankles, who asked Dr. Hamilton to become the first in-house doctor for the 80-plus members of New York City Ballet, in 1972.
Dr. Hamilton immediately said yes, though he knew nothing about ballet. He immersed himself in the art, attending weekend classes and becoming close to Balanchine and, later, the dancer and choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who in 1980 hired him to be the attending surgeon for American Ballet Theater as well.
A courtly 6-foot-3 Southerner, Dr. Hamilton became a favorite and even revered figure around Lincoln Center. He had a disarming bedside manner that put young dancers at ease when they came to him worried that a sprained ankle might end their career.
He kept a ballet barre in his examining room, and he was renowned for catching early signs of chronic, potentially debilitating problems just by asking a dancer to go through a few routine motions.
Early on, he realized that while dancers suffered the same kinds of injuries athletes did, they got them in obscure ways and places. He saw, for example, that the rapid movements required by Balanchine’s ballets came with the risk of foot and ankle injury, while the leaps and bounds more common under Mr. Baryshnikov were more threatening to the hips and knees.
“From the very beginning, I learned that although they get the same injuries as athletes, dancers are artists first,” he told Dance Magazine in 2011.
When Dr. Hamilton started out, in the early 1970s, there was no such thing as dance medicine, and indeed foot and ankle injuries were a largely understudied field of orthopedic medicine.
He built up both fields through lectures and journal articles in which he diagnosed previously understudied injuries; he was among the first to describe the Nutcracker Fracture, for example, which involves multiple breaks in the cuboid bone in the foot. He was president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society from 1992 to 1993, and today every sizable dance company in the country has an orthopedic surgeon on call.
“Bill was the king of orthopedic dance medicine,” Glenn Pfeffer, the co-director of the Cedars-Sinai/USC Glorya Kaufman Dance Medicine Center in Los Angeles, said in a phone interview.
Dr. Hamilton continued to perform surgery until he was 81 and consulted until a few years ago, long after most physicians would have hung up their scalpels.
“I would have retired a long time ago if it wasn’t for the dancers,” he said in a 2016 interview with the magazine Princeton Alumni Weekly. “It’s very rewarding because they love what they do. They just want to dance; they wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
William Garnett Hamilton did not set out to be a Manhattan doctor, let alone a balletomane. He was born on Jan. 11, 1932, in Altus, Okla., where his father, Milton Hamilton, was a salesman and his mother, Elizabeth (Garnett) Hamilton, was a homemaker.
The family moved to Shreveport, La., when he was very young. After his parents divorced, his mother remarried and moved to Portage, Wis., where her new husband owned a plastics manufacturing company.
William graduated from Princeton in 1954 with a degree in engineering, and after two years in the Army he joined his stepfather’s business in Wisconsin. He married and had a child; by his mid-20s, he said, he could see his entire life unfolding before him. He didn’t like what he saw.
Against his parents’ wishes that he stay to run the family company, he applied to medical school. He was accepted at Columbia, one of the few schools that took older students (he was 28 when he enrolled). He decided to focus on orthopedics — a field that he said was not unlike engineering, with muscles and joints standing in for ropes and levers. He graduated in 1964 and, after several years of residency, opened a practice in Midtown Manhattan in 1969.
In addition to his work with the two ballet companies, he provided the same services to the companies’ affiliated schools, the School of American Ballet and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and he consulted for numerous Broadway shows and New York sports teams, including the Knicks and the Yankees.
His first two marriages ended in divorce. He met his future third wife, Linda Homek, when she was a dancer with New York City Ballet. She later received a doctorate in psychology from Adelphi University, on Long Island. In 2000, she and Dr. Hamilton created a multidisciplinary wellness team, including a dietitian and a massage therapist, to care for the company’s dancers, a model that has since been adopted by other ballet companies.
Along with his wife, Dr. Hamilton is survived by his sister, Ann Kirk; his sons, William Jr. and Lewis; and three grandchildren.
Not just New York: Wegmans to stop using plastic bags at all stores by end of 2022 – WSYR
This change is not new for New Yorkers, where plastic bags in most settings have been banned by state law since 2020. According to a company press release, Wegmans’ goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags.
“We understand shoppers are accustomed to receiving plastic bags at checkout and losing that option requires a significant change. We are here to help our customers with this transition as we focus on doing what’s right for the environment,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans category merchant for packaging, energy, and sustainability. “As we’ve encountered plastic bag legislation in numerous markets, we’ve learned there’s more we can do, and a bigger impact we can make, together with our customers.”
Wegmans plans to incentivize the use of reusable bags by charging five cents per paper bag, an approach already utilized in New York stores.
Officials say in stores where the company has eliminated plastic bags, on average, paper bags are used for 20% to 25% of transactions with reusable bags for the remaining 75% to 80% of transactions.
According to Wegmans, by eliminating plastic bags from the rest of its stores, the company is preventing some 345 million single-use bags from going into circulation in a year’s time.
Additionally, Wegmans says the amount of money collected from the paper bag charged will be donated to each store’s local food bank and United Way. Last year the bag charge collected more than $1.7 million which was then donated.
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Plastic bags at grocery store checkout counter.
Editorial: Better world the life work of Albright
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shakes hands with soldiers during her visit to Air Base Eagle in Bosnia in 1998. Albright’s expertise on foreign policy was unparalleled.
The arc of Madeleine Albright’s life spans disruption and mass slaughter in Eastern Europe in the 20th century and disruption and mass slaughter in Eastern Europe in the 21st century.
In the years separating World War II from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Albright embarked on a career devoted to diplomacy and foreign policies designed to prevent and stop such wars, and ensure a more stable world.
Albright, who died last week at 84, made history in 1997 when President Bill Clinton named her this country’s first female secretary of state. She was in the vanguard of the first generation of women who occupied the highest and most visible diplomatic and security posts in the U.S. government.
Albright not only brought to her position a deep, scholarly knowledge of world affairs, and the tumultuous politics that ensnares them, she also brought real-life experience.
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Albright’s and her family’s experiences were shaped by the upheaval, dislocation and violence of World War II. Her understanding of the threat of murderous autocracies and the promise of democracy defined Albright’s life and work. Nazism and communism drove her family from Czechoslovakia.
Albright was born in Prague in 1937, the daughter of a diplomat. Raised as a Catholic, Albright wouldn’t learn until she was 59 that she was Jewish, both of her parents having been born and raised in Jewish families. Her parents converted to Catholicism out of fear of anti-Jewish persecution.
Albright would also learn that several members of her family, including three of her grandparents, were murdered in the Holocaust. When Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, Albright’s father, as a high-ranking government official, was targeted for execution. He took his family to London, and Albright would never forget hiding under metal tables as German bombs fell during the London Blitz in 1940 and 1941.
After the war, the family returned to Czechoslovakia, but when the Communist Party took over the government in 1948, they fled again, this time to the United States.
During Clinton’s first term, he appointed Albright as ambassador to the United Nations, only the second woman to hold that position, following Jeane Kirkpatrick who served under President Ronald Reagan. When Albright was named secretary of state, she became fourth in line to the presidency, making her, at the time, the highest-ranking woman in government in the nation’s history.
It’s also worth noting that since the glass ceiling-breaking ascensions of Kirkpatrick and Albright, it’s now routine for the positions of U.N. ambassador and secretary of state to be held by women.
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In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
On Feb. 23, one month before she died, Albright wrote an op-ed about Russian President Vladimir Putin. Published in the New York Times, it was titled “Putin is Making a Historic Mistake.” As she watched him amass troops on the Ukrainian border, Albright recalled meeting him for the first time in 2000 and noting, “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.”
She ended her essay by writing, “Ukraine is entitled to its sovereignty, no matter who its neighbors happen to be. In the modern era, great countries accept that, and so must Mr. Putin. That is the message undergirding recent Western diplomacy. It defines the difference between a world governed by the rule of law and one answerable to no rules at all.”
The next day, Putin invaded Ukraine.
Albright dedicated her life to building a more humane world governed by the rule of law in which nations are entitled to sovereignty. That work is perpetual and far from complete, but Albright left a legacy of helping to make such a world possible.
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