Why is my dancer doing squats in ballet class?
In 2022, Miss Kate and I attended the Queensland Dance Educators Conference produced by Ausdance Qld (I was lucky enough to be presenting about my PhD topic). Several dance specific physios at the conference spoke about how, as dancers, we’re working in planes of movement that are abnormal, or beyond normal, for what the human body was designed for. As such, often dancers are overdeveloped in some of their musculature and underdeveloped in others. Particularly post-Covid lockdowns, dancers were anecdotally becoming prone to injury.
In order to combat this, we devised a studio-wide Fundamental Movement Skills program that teachers have implemented in most lessons, across styles, from around age 10 and up. The program is approximately 5 minutes long, is tailored slightly toward differing dance styles and is performed by teachers at the start or conclusion of class, or sometimes in the middle as a “brain break”.
Fundamental movement skills are basic motor abilities that form the foundation for more complex movements. These skills include running, jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, and catching. For dancers, having a solid foundation in these skills can help prevent injury by improving their balance, coordination, and overall body control. By mastering these fundamental skills, dancers can execute more complex dance movements with greater ease and precision. It also allows them to better adapt to different choreography and styles of dance. Ultimately, developing fundamental movement skills helps dancers build a strong and healthy foundation for their dance practice.
Since implementing our program, we have seen a reduction in overuse injuries to almost zero (despite having an increase in hours of training on average across the studio), and we are seeing an overall improvement in core and gross motor control, flowing through to things like improved balance in pirouettes and more powerful jumps. It has certainly been effective and we can’t wait to continue our work in this area!
17 April 2023