đź’Ş Stronger Dancers: Where to Start?

Mar 7 / Simona Di Nardo
Hi, friends! This is The Dance Scientist, here to introduce my 3rd guest blog writer on The Dance Science blog. Enjoy! Scientific literature has shown that the constant care and preparation of the dancer’s body allows to improve and extend the dancer’s career.

More specifically, an appropriate strength-based training can optimize the performance of dancers, without interfering with technical skills and aesthetic elements. Accordingly, when coaches work with dancers during the rehearsals process, they must look at them as athletes.
There are two main points for starting to program the training of a dancer: ANALYSE the dance performance: check what you need and build a training program focusing on your goals and your needs.ASSESSMENT of strength capacity (and more generally the athletic capacities): collect data having a starting point and reference one to build an individualized strength program.

So, what’s the point? When we talk about strength, we need to evidence that there are many features of it. For example, the repetitive nature of dance movement patterns (more than 200 jumps per 1.5 hours of ballet class) requires both types of muscular endurance and either on sustained isometrics or repeated series of muscle contractions. So, the training schedule must be built on the specific strength qualities the dancers need. Indeed, the next step after the analysis of the performance is the assessment of the athletic capacities of the dancers. One of the most efficient ways is to check the strength capacity through the force-velocity profile assessment. This relationship shows the link between the mechanical properties of the neuromuscular system and the global performance functionality. By this assessment, coaches should know if they need to develop high levels of force at low velocities (acting on maximal strength) and/or low levels of force at high velocities (acting at the level of speed).Why should we do this?We should consider dancers as athletes during rehearsals/lessons and as artists on the stage. Therefore, coaches and dance teachers must be prepared to support properly all these phases to improve the dance performance in all the features that it has.

The limit in this process is related to the substantial differences in terms of choreographic requests and phenotypes included in a professional dance company. Like this, the gap that exists between the performance demands made by the choreographer and the technique that is learned during the conventional ballet/dance class will be increased. Larger will be the gap and bigger will be the demand of the dancer to be prepared athletically. While the shorter the gap and more efficient the artistic side of the dance performance will be. As a result, a stronger and healthier body will support and let the artistic side to be the main character on the stage.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Watson T., Graning J., McPherson S., Carter E., Edwards J., Melcher I., Burgess T., Dance, balance and core muscle performance measures are improved following a 9-week core stabilization training program among competitive collegiate dancers. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2017 Feb;12(1):25-41. Moita J.P., Nunes A., Esteves J., Oliveira R., Xarez L., The Relationship Between Muscular Strength and Dance Injuries: A Systematic Review. Med Probl Perform Art. 2017 Mar;32(1):40-50. Samozino P., Rejc E., Di Prampero P.E., Belli A., Morin J.B., Optimal force-velocity profile in ballistic movements--altius: citius or fortius? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Feb;44(2):313-22.Twitchett E.A., Koutedakis Y., Wyon M.A., Physiological fitness and professional classical ballet performance: a brief review. In J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Dec;23(9):2732-40. Yin A.X., Geminiani E., Quinn B., Owen M., Kinney S., McCrystal T., Stracciolini A., The Evaluation of Strength, Flexibility, and Functional Performance in the Adolescent Ballet Dancer During Intensive Dance Training. PM R. 2019 Jul;11(7):722-730.

Meet the Guest
Writer 

Simona Di Nardo

Simona Di Nardo’s been working as a freelance choreographer and dancer since 2016 in Italy and abroad. During and after her graduation at the "Accademia Nazionale di Danza in Rome", she took part on many occasions as a guest choreographer, and she worked in some productions as a maintenance choreographer.

In addition, she realized some choreographies from her own and others by commission. After her research thesis with the title: "Assessment of Strength in Pre-Professional Ballet Dancers", she started to work applying the sports science to the dance performance. Her goal is to prepare the dancers' bodies to perform their best artistically and athletically.
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