Poise and Performance | Caring for the Dance Athlete | Dr. Sheyi Ojofeitimi


We recently had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Sheyi Ojofeitimi, DPT, OCS, CFMT, CIDN of Synthesis Physical Therapy. As therapist for the acclaimed company, Alvin Ailey, Dr. Ojofeitimi has a quite intriguing career as a practitioner who cares for what she calls the "stepchild of athletics" the professional dancer. She is inspired to help dancers view themselves as athletes and care for their bodies to help them perform better and live better in the long run.

 
Physical Therapist Sheyi Ojofeitimie of Synthesis and iON Performance

What first inspired you to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist?

When I was a teenager I liked dancing and watching music videos. Then my brother took me to see Alvin Ailey perform at City Center. I was in awe! I couldn't believe the human body could do such things. I was determined to eventually figure out how. Fast forward a few years. I was now a college graduate who quit her job at a stressful PR firm and was working a cushy job as a receptionist and asking "what next". Family, most of which were already in the medical field, tried to convince me to become a nurse or doctor. I had no desire for either. Then an aunt suggested Physical Therapy. I had never heard about the profession, but was intrigued with the description. I asked her if it would help me understand how dancers did what did and she said yes. That's when I started looking into becoming a Physical Therapist.

What led to you working with dancers in your field of Physical Therapy?

While in physical therapy school I was doing an internship in rural West Virginia. I came into the clinic one day and on the table was a rehabilitation magazine with an beautiful dancer in a white dress on cover. Having seen the company perform as a teenager and taken Dunham at the Ailey School while a senior in college I immediately recognized it was an an Ailey dancer - Dwana Smallwood in Cry .The article happened to mention the physical therapists worked with the dancers. Who knew! Within days I wrote and sent a letter (because that's what you did back in those days) to the physical therapists introducing myself and asking if I could do an internship. Shaw Bronner, the creator of the Ailey PT program, responded positively. My school set-up affiliation and a few months later I started my internship. Fast forward 17 years, I am still here.

 

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What does it mean to you to work with Alvin Ailey dancers?

Working as a physical therapist means that I get up to do what I love to do every day. Working with Alvin Ailey dancers means I get to do what I love with the people that inspire and challenge me to be my best everyday.