b'Connecting body and mindBeing active or still can bring calmness and a path through difficult moments.Jermel Johnson, dancer roll or start some sort of movement, he said, it begins to open me up and calm me down.As a boy, JermelHe recalled how sad he was a number Johnson loved toof years ago when his best friends were jump. He even setleaving the ballet company. At that time, up low fence-likehe was performing a role in a ballet that obstacles on hiswas meaningful to him. Dancing it actually street so he couldmade me feel better. Every time I did it, I hurdle them.felt a little better. I felt like I was more able When I discov- to accept what was happening.ered theres a lot ofMr. Johnson also has had his share of phys-jumping in ballet,ical struggles. There are days when you thats what really got me excited, saidare so drained and exhausted, you force Mr. Johnson, who spent 19 years with theyourself to get into it, he said. It can wear Philadelphia Ballet before retiring in Maydown your body so much that it affects you 2022. He rose through the ranks to becomementally. a principal dancerone who has reachedHe grew curious about how to heal prob-the highest status within a professionallems before they became serious. He also ballet company. wanted to help others, he said.For Mr. Johnson, ballet is much more thanSo, as he approached retirement from the jumps. It brings me joy, he said. ballet, he studied to become a licensed It has given him a way to express himselfmassage therapist. This is a therapist who and connect with others. I am not the bestworks on muscles, ligaments, and other with words. It has definitely given me asoft tissues in the body to reduce tension.voice through movement, he said. Mr. Johnson has launched his second career Dance also has helped him when he is notas a massage therapist, and he finds his feeling great. If I can just start a shouldernew job has similarities with his old one.21'