William Hamilton, a New York ballet dancer doctor, died at 90

Dr. William J. Hamilton, who has spent more than 40 years as an orthopedic surgeon for the New York City Ballet, called bone spurs, tendinitis, bursitis, broken ligaments, and what he called a “knotworker fracture” on March 29. Died He was 90 in Croton-on-Hudson, NY.

His wife, Linda Hamilton, said the cause was heart failure.

Ballet dancers may be “God’s players,” as Albert Einstein said. But unless Dr. Hamilton came along, they were treated more like adventurous animals than physical bodies that could collide, break, and otherwise fall apart under the extreme and often unnatural pressure of puppies and grand jets.

In fact, it was George Balanchine, the choreographer who famously insisted that his dancers work with his fingers and toes, which prompted Dr. Hamilton to become the first internal doctor for more than 100 members of the New York City Ballet. Become. , In 1972.

Dr. Hamilton would say yes, though he had no idea about the ballot. He immersed himself in art, attended classes over the weekend and became close to Balanchine and, later, dancer and choreographer Mikhail Barshankov, who in 1980 hired him as a surgeon attending the American Ballet Theater.

A 6-foot-3 sloping court, Dr. Hamilton became a favorite and even respected figure around Lincoln Center. He had an unarmed bedside style that kept young dancers comfortable when they came to him worried that the crocodile’s career could end their careers.

He kept a belt-bar in his exam room, and he was known for catching the early signs of chronic, potentially debilitating problems, asking only a dancer to go through some minor movements.

Initially, he felt that when dancers suffered similar injuries, they acquired them in unusual ways and places. This is why, for example, the sharp movements required by Balanchine’s belts come with the risk of foot and ankle injuries, while the more common lumps and bounds under Mr Baryshnikov were more at risk for the hands and knees.

He told Dance Magazine in 2011: “From the beginning, I learned that even though they are injured like athletes, the dancers are the first artists.

When Dr. Hamilton started, in the early 1970’s, there was no such thing as dance medicine, and in fact foot and ankle injuries were widely regarded in orthopedic medicine.

He built both fields through lectures and journal articles in which he had previously diagnosed an aneurysm – he was the first to describe the Nutcracker Fracture, for example, which included several breaks in the cubicle’s foot. He served as president of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society from 1992 to 1993, and today is the orthopedic surgeon on call to every major dance company in the country.

“Bill was the King of Orthopedic Dance Medicine,” Glenn Pfeffer, co-director of the Cedars-Sinai / USC Gloria Kauffman Dance Medicine Center, said in a phone interview.

Dr. Hamilton continued to have surgery until the age of 81 and continued to seek counseling until a few years ago, after a long period of time, most physicians may have hidden his scalpel.

“I would have retired a long time ago if it had not been for 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 don’t want to do anything else. “

William Garnett didn’t set out to be Hamilton’s Manhattan doctor, let alone a Beltone. He was born on January 11, 1932 in Alts, Okla., Where his father, Milton Hamilton, was a salesman, and his mother, Elizabeth (Garnett) Hamilton, a homeowner.

The family moved to Shreveport, LA when he was very young. After her parents’ divorce, her mother remarried and moved to Portage, Wis., Where her new husband owned a plastic making company.

William graduated from Princeton in 1954 and earned an engineering degree, and after two years in the Army he joined the business of his stepfather in Wisconsin. He married and had one child; In his mid-20s, he said, he could see the rest of his life appearing before him. He didn’t like what he did.

Contrary to his parents’ wishes that he run a family company, he applied to medical school. He was accepted to Columbia, one of the few schools that took older students (he was 28 when he entered). He decided to focus on orthopedics – a field he said is not unlike engineering, with muscles and joints that stand up for rope and liver. He graduated in 1964 and, after several years of residency, opened a practice in 1969 in Midtown Manhattan.

In addition to working with two ballet companies, he provided similar services to the affiliated schools, the School of American Ballet and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, and has advised on several Broadway shows and New York sports teams. . The Knicks and Yankees.

His first two marriages ended in divorce. He met his future third wife, Linda Hummock, when she was a dancer with the New York City Ballet. He later earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of Adelphi. In 2000, she and Dr. Hamilton formed a multi-disciplinary health team, including a nutritionist and a gastroenterologist, to care for the company’s dancers, a pattern later adopted by other ballet companies.

Along with his wife, Dr. Hamilton is survived by his sister, Anne Kirk. His sons, William Jr. and Lewis; And three grandsons.

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