LIFE & WORK
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.
LIFE & WORK
Mississippi River crest reaches historic proportions as Iowans cope with yet another flood
As a slow-moving crest works its way down the Mississippi River this week, flood-weary Iowans living along the water were doing their best to cope with the rising water.
In Davenport on Sunday, River Drive lived up to its name: The street looked like a river, but residents said their sandbagging efforts are working.
James Perez, who was helping a local business owner fill sandbags Thursday night outside Mary’s Bar in downtown Davenport, estimated about 180,000 pounds of sand encircled the business they were trying to protect.
About a block away, the barrier outside the bar kept water from entering the business, which remained open Sunday evening.
Perez recalled the 2019 flood, when the Mississippi River broke through a temporary barrier, covering streets and surrounding homes and businesses.
“This time around, we knew ahead of time what to do so I kind of took charge,” Perez said. “I took all the volunteers who were not sure what to do and organized them into a team.”
Some are making the best of a bad situation. With music playing on a portable speaker, Joseph Anderson and Jimi Williams spent a recent afternoon in their kayaks floating down River Drive.
Anderson, a longtime resident of Davenport, said people who call the place home know what to expect.
“Checking out the view and enjoying life. Watching it under water and getting a different perspective of the same thing,” Anderson told . “It’s a beautiful day. We get to see the city. Not everyone gets this view. This is a locals-only tour.”
The flooding caused by snow melt this year does not compare to the 2019 flood, Anderson said.
“You start to get used to it. This one isn’t as bad. Last time we had some levies break and there was a little more damage. It’s not too bad,” Anderson told CNN. “Everyone was prepared. They’ve been through this before, and if you are local you know what to expect.”
Claudia Anderson, the manager of The Phoenix, a large downtown Davenport restaurant, said Monday the barriers seemed to be holding water out of the business, and sump pumps are taking out the little water that does get it.
But the restaurant cannot open, and it’s losing tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, she said. She has had to temporarily lay off about two dozen employees, including some who have no other income.
“It is what it is, we’ve gone through this, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone through the flood,” Anderson said.
The crest in the Quad Cities area in Iowa ranked in the top 10 historic crests Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
The river gauge at Rock Island, near Davenport, was cresting with water levels fairly steady around 21.4 feet Monday morning, placing it as the eighth-highest recorded at that spot.
Flood warnings continue along a long stretch of the Mississippi River from St Paul, Minnesota, to just north of St Louis, Missouri, as snow melts from a phenomenal winter season.
The recent flooding comes after areas of the Upper Midwest saw extraordinary snowfall this winter. Duluth, Minnesota, broke its highest seasonal snowfall last month, and Minneapolis recorded its third-highest season.
As the snow in the region melts, the swell of water is making its way south.
Upstream from Davenport in Dubuque, Iowa, officials closed all of its floodgates along the river last week, only the third time the gates have been closed since they were installed in 1973. Pumping stations were operating around the clock.
And farther upstream, North Buena Vista area residents were living in flooded homes, CNN affiliate KCRG reported Sunday, taking “canoes back and forth or we wade through the water,” resident Scott Blum told the station.
The Mississippi will continue cresting further south on Tuesday and Wednesday, but major flooding is not forecast for locations farther south.
A levee breach causes more flood damage
Sixty miles north of Davenport, in Green Island, Iowa, a levee breach flooded roughly 4,000 acres of a wildlife refuge and damaged nine properties, according to Jackson County Emergency Management Director Lyn Medinger.
Officials were not yet able to investigate the cause of the breach due to weather, Medinger told CNN Monday, adding authorities will likely reach the area Tuesday morning.
The region has seen powerful winds, making air transport to the area difficult
No injuries were reported and no evacuations have been made, Medinger said.
“The one breach is affecting the low-lying areas in that region,” the director added.
Just a few miles south, in the city of Sabula, the flood wall was eroded by the high winds but officials were able to stabilize the situation with sandbags and avoid flooding, Medinger said.
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International Journalism Festival 2023: the events you shouldn’t miss in Perugia
Here is a curated list of panels on topics such as Ukrainian media, membership and funding models, solutions journalism and more.
April journalists from all over the world will be gathering for the International Journalism Festival in Perugia once again. Many voices from the Reuters Institute will speak at the festival. Here’s a selection of some of the highlights this year, which include panels on reader revenue models, the media in Ukraine, press freedom, equity and inclusion in journalism and AI. All the panels will be live-streamed on the festival’s IJF YouTube channel. See you in Perugia or online.
Investigating the crimes of war
Anna Babinets from Slidstvo.Info | Sam Dubberley from HRW | Sarah El Deeb from AP | Anne Koch from GIJN
12.00. Sala delle Colonne, Palazzo Graziani.
How to support the Ukrainian media system in the long run
Joanna Krawczyk from the German Marshall Fund of the United States | Jakub Parusinski from The Fix | David Schraven from CORRECTIV | Penelope Winterhager from the JX Fund | Eugene Zaslavsky from the Media Development Foundation
14.00. Sala della Vaccara, Palazzo dei Priori.
Membership models: all you need to know about running a member-centric newsroom
Leon Fryszer from Krautreporter | Richard Hoechner from Republik | Lea Korsgaard from Zetland | Eduardo Suárez from RISJ
14.00. Sala dei Notari, Palazzo dei Priori.
Gender, leadership and surviving authoritarian regimes and cultures: women leading independent Arab media speak up
Rawan Damen from ARIJ | Fatemah Farag from Welad Elbalad Media | Diana Moukalled from Daraj | Nora Younis from AlManassa News
15.00. Sala della Vaccara, Palazzo dei Priori.
Solutions journalism: a means to achieve equity and inclusion
Dina Aboughazala from Egab | Caleb Okereke from Minority Africa | Dora Santos Silva from Obi.Media | Holly Wise from the Solutions Journalism Network
16.00. Sala Brugnoli, Palazzo Cesaroni.
Two to tango: a closer look at the relationship between independent investigative teams and legacy media
Cecilia Anesi from IRPI | Nikolas Leontopoulos from Reporters United | Geoffrey Livolsi from Disclose | Elisa Simantke from Investigate Europe | Bastian Obermayer
16.00. Auditorium San Francesco al Prato.
How the far right is going global
Luke O’Brien from the Shorenstein Center | Andrea Dip from Agência Pública | Natalia Viana from Agência Pública | Jamil Chade
17.00. Sala dei Notari, Palazzo dei Priori.
Legal threats hampering media freedom
Lina Attalah from Mada Masr | Will Church from TRF | Chile Eboe-Osuji from Toronto Metropolitan University | Jodie Ginsberg from CPJ | Joel Simon from the Journalism Protection Initiative | Antonio Zappulla from TRF
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