Happy November (again!) -
We’re pleased to to share with you an article on the relationship between outside-of-class-fitness-training and dance performance. You may remember we’ve had a number of articles on this topic, and how important it is for dancers to do more than just take class / rehearsal, if they want to stay as healthy as possible and lower their risk of injury.
Our contributor for this piece is Dr. Matthew Wyon, who is Professor of Dance Science at the University of Wolverhampton (England), where he divides his time between the Sport and Dance Departments. He is on the Medical Advisory Committee of Dance UK, and as a certified strength and conditioning specialist works as exercise physiologist for Birmingham Royal Ballet and The English National Ballet. As one of the leading researchers in dance medicine and science, he is also the incoming President-elect / Vice-President of IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine and Science). I’m so glad he agreed to write something for us, and happy we can share this with you……just one more piece of evidence on why dancers need to do outside-of-class conditioning! Mahalo, Matt! (that’s Hawaiian for “thank you”!)
Best to all!
Jan, Editor, Dance Wellness
Is dance class and rehearsal enough to get you fit to perform? Should you also do other fitness training as well? The link between physical fitness and performance has been demonstrated in sport, where winners are often physically fitter than their rivals. Dance UK’s two “Fit to Dance” reports noted that dancers said fatigue was one of the main causes of injury. The research we have carried out at the University of Wolverhampton examined whether there was a similar relationship between fitness and dance, as there is in sport. Specifically, are dancers able to improve the artistic elements of dance performance by improving their underlying physical fitness?
A recent study has shown that judges gave higher grades to fitter dancers dancing the same piece of choreography than less fit dancers. The study used professional dancers and final year vocational school dancers in a performance group. Each group (ballet and contemporary) performed a solo-piece before and after a 6 week training period and carried out the same fitness tests. Half of each genre group did an extra 1 hour fitness class a week while the others just did their normal routine. The fitness training consisted of circuit training and whole body vibration training on a PowerPlate. The circuit training exercises chosen focused on upper and lower body exercises (such as press-ups, lunges, bench dips), as well as development of the aerobic energy system. Each group also carried out exercises that focused on developing active and passive flexibility.
Results showed that all dancers who were part of the intervention (i.e, the fitness regimen) group improved their artistic marks significantly more than the control groups (the ones who did not do the fitness regimen).
The study has also shown that as long as supplemental training is focused, benefits can be achieved in a short period of time, which is vital within the training and rehearsal schedules of today’s dancers.
Professor in Dance Science, Research Centre for Sport Exercise and Performance, University of Wolverhampton, UK
I’m happy to let you know that for the first time in the USA, a dance medicine and science course designed specifically for dance educators will be offered through the University of Colorado, Boulder, in January, 2014. The 4-day course prepares the participant totake the Safe in Dance International (SIDI) and IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine and Science) Healthy Dance Practice Certification.
The course, and the Certification, is an evolution of a previous one pioneered by IADMS and offered for the last several years in the UK, through Trinity Laban College. The class covers such important information as:
-basic anatomy and physiology
-warm-up and cool-down
-safety in the dance environment
-basic injury prevention and management
It includes the latest scientific and practical information on healthy dance practice and teaching, performance enhancement, and most importantly – offers practical tips and information on how to integrate all this knowledge into classes, rehearsals, and performance. The course is designed for teachers, directors, managers, and choreographers in all genres of dance, and achieving the certification helps students, parents, and employers know that you have taken the extra steps to help dancers get the best possible education, in the safest environment – to keep them dancing longer and stronger!
We are so pleased that the Department of Theatre and Dance, at UC-Boulder, has stepped forward to host this first-in-the-US event.
Here are the specifics:
This includes the fee for the certification exam, as well as the course, Once you have completed the course itself,you have one year to take the exam and complete the certification.
For more Info: Contact Erin Sanchez at erin (at) danceuk.org
For further information on Safe in Dance International: www.safeindance.com
Many of you have been faithful readers of our Dance Wellness column since we started it, nearly two years ago. This course is a wonderful opportunity to learn LOTS of wonderful information in one fell swoop! — and take it home to integrate into your dance environment immediately. I hope that you will take this opportunity. The vision is to eventually be able to offer these courses in different locations around the country, but that will take time, and there’s no way to know how far off in the future that might happen. But the Boulder course ishappening NOW, so take advantage of it! You–and your dancers–will be glad you did.
Aloha to all of you-
Judith Peterson knows dancers’ health. She served the Pennsylvania Ballet for ten years as attending physician and is currently a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Her book covers the whats, hows, and whys of anatomy that are most relevant to dancers. The functional descriptions of each body structure (spinal regions, cardiovascular system, hips, knees, ankles, feet, and toes) are thorough enough to be really useful but presented simply. Most importantly, each chapter includes a bulleted summary and practical exercises for each body region. Dance Medicine Head to Toe makes it easy to see why anatomical knowledge is important to dancers and how they can put that knowledge into practice.
An especially important feature of this book (aside from the high quality and effective presentation of the information, of course) is the emphasis Peterson places on getting help from a qualified dance medicine professional rather than trying to ignore pain or “tough it out,” such unfortunately common practices in the competitive fields of professional and pre-professional dance. Cultivating a dance culture where it’s understood to be OK to get help for injuries is critical to the advancement of our art and expansion of our field.
In addition to the valuable information provided in Peterson’s text, the book is peppered with diagrams and dance photographs. Some are quite helpful, but many could benefit from clearer labeling or simply be omitted.
Succinct, comprehensive, and conversational, Dance Medicine Head to Toe should be part of every dancer’s and teacher’s library.
Dance Medicine Head to Toe: A Dancer’s Guide to Health, Judith R Peterson, MD, Princeton Book Company, 20110
by Jan Dunn, MS
Summer is drawing to a close, and I’m guessing at least some of you have already started back to school / dance class / rehearsals….and I would guess that you’re in good shape, because you’ve been reading the Dance Wellness column over the last year and a half, and you know to not let your dancing body de-condition over the summer, yes?
So now that a new season is starting – whether that means as a student or professional dancer – let’s talk about how important warm-up is–and what exactly is this anyway, and WHY is it important?
I remember a number of years ago, when my Denver Dance Medicine Medicine colleague, Sarah Graham, PT, and I were working backstage with a well-known international dance company, and were distressed to realize that 90% of the dancers went on-stage with virtually no warm-up before the show – and the company had many injuries that came as a result. It was a grim reminder of how important warm-up is for your dancing life.
Bottom line: We warm-up to prepare our bodies safely for the dance activity to follow, and to avoid injury.
Let’s just start with the basics:
The primary goal of a warm-up is to increase your core internal body temperature by 1-2 degrees. By doing this, you accomplish a number of good things:
-increase your respiration rate (breathing)
-increase the blood flow to your muscles (to fuel your dance movement!)
-increase your joint lubrication, for easier range of motion. Think of your joints as having oil (they do – it’s called “synovial fluid”), which, when cold, moves slowly and makes movement more difficult. Warming-up that fluid makes the joint move more easily and freely. (Like your car on a cold winter morning–you want to warm it up first!)
-increase the speed of neural signal transmission from your brain to your muscles.
-focus your attention
Misc. points to realize about the warm-up:4
Aloha! It’s summer dance intensive time, and I hope everyone is having a rewarding (and safe!) summer experience, where ever you are:). Summer is also a time for conferences in the dance / arts world, and if you are reading this column, we know that you are interested in Dance Wellness topics. Whether you are a teacher / company director, or dancer, these conferences can provide invaluable information to take back home to your studio / rehearsal space.
If you are in the southern California area (SoCal), one such conference that should not be missed is the August event at Chapman University, located in Orange (Orange County). The meeting, co-sponsored for the third year in a row by the University and PAMA (Performing Arts Medicine Association) addresses dance, music, and theatre, and can provide information taught by experts in the field. Put it on your calendar!
Happy summer dancing:)