Significant advances have been made in the progress of physical conditioning and physical fitness.
In the 1960’s, it was common for an athlete to “play themselves” into shape or for professional dancers to “dance themselves” into shape. Since then, we have come a long way. As competitive and skill demands started to rise, it became more apparent that implementing a supplemental conditioning routine tailored to a specific sport or type of dance would enhance individual performance.
In dance, the body is the instrument of the dancer. He or she must make sure to maintain the body in top physical shape to keep up with the demands of current choreographic work and avoid injury. As discussed in an article on Dance Fitness by the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS),
“It has been found that there is a discrepancy in the physical intensity level between training, rehearsal, and performance. This means that training methods, which are generally based on tradition, are not sufficient to help prepare dancers for the higher, more physically demanding aspects of performance.”
In a well-rounded dance conditioning program, it is necessary to consider all the components of fitness:
- Aerobic fitness – associated with moderate, longer-term levels of activity.
- Anaerobic fitness – associated with high intensity,maximal, short bursts of activity. • Muscle endurance – the ability of a muscle to produce continuous movement.
- Strength – the ability of a muscle to produce a maximal force on one occasion.
- Power – the explosive (speed-related) aspect of strength.
- Flexibility – the range of motion at a joint in association with the pliability of a muscle.
- Neuromuscular coordination – associated with balance, agility, coordination and skill.
- Body composition – the make-up of body weight by percentage of muscle and fat.
- Rest – a period of no activity, to allow for recovery and regeneration.
According to IADMS, as we understand and develop more appropriate dance training methodologies, dancers can reap the benefits of enhanced performance, reduced injury and ultimately longevity in their careers. Implementing a supplemental conditioning routine will help maintain a dancer in elite form and help them advance, rather than always recovering from injury.