Why Strength in Dance?

A Physiotherapists Perspective

I often find myself asking the question what is so unique in a dancer and why are they regarded differently and treated differently when it comes to performance enhancement, injury management and rehabilitation.  From an anatomical and physiological perspective, I regard dancers Athletes as that is exactly what they are.  Dancers are often not treated as elite athletes and are not given access to elite training, injury prevention, performance enhancement and rehabilitation strategies for injuries.  A dancer is expected to perform with artistry, grace, lightness and visible strength, yet the power generation for such ability is often not trained from basic principles.  I would randomly ask the question to various dance teachers how do we get the dancer stronger and fitter?  More often than not, the answer I would get is do more classes, do some Pilates or stretch and core classes.  My self-restrained reaction to that is they couldn’t seriously believe that, or they just don’t know what they don’t know. 

Do they know what toll it takes on the physiology and anatomy of the body to reach levels of safe functional ability on the physical, mental and physiological systems of the dancer’s body? 

Overwhelmingly I was left disillusioned, frustrated and helpless at this approach.  Destiny had it that apart from being a lover of the arts, I married a dancer and subsequently became a dance dad of a young girl who from a very early age decided to make dance her life objective.  Without much choice I was drawn into the world of dance equally and possibly more than that of the world of sports and sports medicine and comparisons and dilemmas did not stop eating at my daily thought and reflective practice.  

At this point I will put a slight caveat in the story and give a short background of my professional career. As a Physiotherapist I was always intrigued with the marvels of the human body and how ingenious our systems are.  21 years of practice only helped to raise more questions on the why and the how things happen rather than provide meaningful answers. 

A quick google search on the definition of the role of a Physiotherapist will tell you that they are the experts of human movement.  That’s true.  However human movement in all its complexity with all the questions I had started to make sense when I reluctantly decided to take a short course on the biomechanics of running by Mike Antoniades in London, the founder of The Movement School.  Little did I know what change this course was about to bring in my practice, life and understanding of the true value of Physiotherapy, performance, rehabilitation and injury management.

Fast forward to why Strength in Dance and hence this project.  My passion for the arts, human movement, dance, performance enhancement and rehabilitation has led me to read so much, learn so much and help so many people from all walks of life and dancers through the knowledge and experience gained from Mike that I felt it my obligation to at least try to share the knowledge, experience and success of this method with numerous people involved in some way or other in the beautiful world of dance. 

I look forward to this exciting venture and my only wish is that through it we can help young dancers proceed with their dreams, and vocational, pre professional and professional dancers enhance their career through proven methods used to safeguard the body, prevent and rehabilitate injuries as well as bring out the individuals maximal artistic and physical ability.