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drdance

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  1. As a side note for parents and anyone else interested in topics such as this, I agree with Niko’s advice about education and challenging myths etc. IADMS is a great place to start but also the science for dance educators group on Facebook is really good. It’s connected to IADMS and there are so many educated and informed people in that group that discussions are always interesting to follow. The wonderful thing is that everyone involved has the same ideal at heart - and that is to use science to improve how dancers are trained. As a scientist as well as a dance teacher, I’m always looking to understand how and why things are the way they are, and I look for evidence or fact to help me understand. I love to learn and so I will always question why? Or how? Or what does ‘X’ mean? I believe that the most knowledgeable people on earth are those who keep striving to learn more, and who don’t just accept something because “that’s what I was told” or “that’s the way it is”. Science is what shapes our world. There is so much that we take for granted that only exists because someone was brave enough to say “I think this could be done a different way”, and for people to debate it, question it and sometimes agree that it’s ok to change how you approach something, especially if backed up by evidence. So, in realizing that I have gone off tangent slightly (for which I apologise, but only a little!) my challenge to you is to think like a scientist a bit more! Question, challenge, critically appraise everything. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask or do research to seek answers. Nothing in dance training should be mysterious or archaic - if something sounds implausible or wrong, then ask for explanation or evidence. If you get conflicting explanations or evidence, seek out more until you have multiple sources saying the same thing / supporting each other. Be aware of second-hand or third-hand advice/evidence eg “I know someone who’s sisters fiancé danced with the Royal Ballet and they told me that they all have their hips removed so they have better turnout”.... (clearly nonsense to make a point!). This forum is great, and it’s got a lot better at making sure that people looking for advice regarding injuries are always directed to the appropriate professionals before other well-meaning but unqualified folks jump in. Perhaps the same caution could be applied when parents or dancers are asking for advice regarding other physical or mental health related matters?
  2. I agree that any professional dancer who has worked with their body for that number of years has an incredible insight - but there are also a lot of ballet teachers (of all different backgrounds) who perpetuate things that simply aren’t true. My personal pet hate is “lift the leg from underneath”. The scrunching toes comment from the video posted earlier relates to scrunching toes in a tendu, or extension en l’air, not to grip the floor. I agree that a dancer with their weight back may be gripping the floor with their toes but I’m still not sure how, anatomically, this leads to hypertrophy in the quads. But, as I said above, if someone can explain how this happens I’m keen to know.
  3. With respect, I am 100% certain that it is anatomically impossible for clawing of toes to cause the quadriceps muscles to hypertrophy. If someone can prove this otherwise, with scientific backing then I will have learned something new (which I am always keen to do). Faulty technique does indeed cause injury, we know this, I agree with that statement. I also agree that incorrect technique causes muscles to engage that are not the target muscles for a certain exercise, and can cause the aesthetic to change (classic example of failing to adequately turn out a leg in second position resulting in lateral thigh and TFL dominance, and pelvic tilt commonly known as “hip hiking”). However, ballet teachers (especially ones who are ex professional dancers who have never done an anatomy course in their life) often have very little accurate knowledge about how muscles work, and therefore the language used is often based on myth rather than truth, and is incorrect and detrimental. Words like “overdeveloped” and “bulky” versus “long and lean” make the first sound awful and the second desirable. However, as I said earlier, you have to ask WHAT DO YOU WANT THE MUSCLES TO DO! If you want force production, power, strength and performance, then you need strong muscles. In some people, strong muscles are big, regardless of whether they’re “using the right muscles” (never that simple) or have the “right” technique. It’s about time ballet teachers stopped perpetuating myths about long, lean, sylph like muscles and celebrated strength for what it is.
  4. I apologise for shooting the messenger as it were, but there is NO WAY that this is possible!
  5. I think this is great - but it would HAVE to be anonymous, for the protection of the children and families involved. I do hope anyone with stories to tell will come forward because this has been going on for too long. While vocational schools and dance companies will no doubt be the high profile cases involved, I personally believe that the emotional and indirect physical abuse going on in part-time dance schools, especially competitive schools with very dangerous practices such as children wearing ankle weights, extreme stretching etc is WAY more widespread and needs calling out.
  6. Wow. I realise it's very hard for me to say this when I'm not a parent of an aspiring vocational dancer but any school that gives feedback regarding the size of a dancers muscles is perhaps not a very supportive, forward-thinking school and if I was advising parents of a student of mine, I'd be VERY interested in discussing these comments with the schools, and finding out what their approach to safe dance practice was before recommending them to any other students.
  7. There has also been an ongoing investigation into British gymnastics recently. Sadly it seems like abuse was/is rife there too. I think we'd all be very naive to think that the ballet world was different. It's gone on for far too long but will it ever change? Who knows.....
  8. Who is concerned about this? Her? You? Her teachers? Have you had feedback from vocational schools specifically citing her physique regarding why she isn't getting in? Pixiewoo is right. Genetics is the most likely thing that will affect physique and response to training. My opinion (as a dance scientist) is that "long, lean muscles" (which seems to be the holy grail of ballet dancers) aren't the strongest of muscles. I seem to be saying this a lot at the moment but people need to know WHAT they want their body to be able to do, before worrying about how it looks or what training they should/shouldn't be doing. Once you've figured out the WHAT, the next question is WHY? If you can't answer that question convincingly then there's no reason to do something. People ask me lots of questions such as how can I get more flexible, how can I make my legs leaner, how can I make my pirouettes better etc. My first response is always "why? how will this help you as a dancer?" Finally, I would always guard against saying ANYTHING about the size of a 15 year olds physique, especially their torso (breasts, stomach, hips), unless there is something wrong with their health.
  9. It’s very frustrating that one minute the advice is “Dance studios cannot open” and then “out of school clubs like ballet” are allowed but only in the school holidays?! One minute dance classes have been lumped in with gyms and fitness studios and then the next we’re glorified childcare!
  10. @Canary Yes growth plays a major part in flexibility. Muscles, ligaments and bones all grow at slightly different rates so in the middle of the adolescent growth spurts, muscles effectively become shorter (as they grow after the bones usually). All the sensors around our bodies that tell us where parts are in relation to each other (proprioception) are affected by the growth spurt so an adolescent may feel like their arm/leg/foot is in line or in the right place when it’s not. The approach to training adolescents is a particular area of interest for me! Too many dancers, teachers, choreographers (and parents, I don’t doubt) are unaware of quite how puberty affects the body and how training should be modified as a result.
  11. Hi DD Driver - thank you for your input. At the moment this is a pilot study to figure out if it's worth doing a full scientific intervention study. Having said that, all participants will be screened and factors such as skill level, hours of training, etc will all be taken into consideration.
  12. Recently, there has been growing concern regarding safe stretching, how to improve flexibility and the demand for extremes of flexibility among young dancers. I have been reading and researching different methods that have been used within gymnastics and other sports and would like to trial several different methods to see which are the most effective. Therefore, I am looking for any dancers who are struggling with their splits to take part in a splits improvement trial comparing different types of stretching / strengthening. Participants will be assigned a series of exercises and will be invited to an online training session (via zoom) to learn how to do the exercises. There will be strict guidelines about what other flexibility exercises participants can and can’t do during the trial period. After the trial period any students who would like additional guidance, will be given individual training plans to keep working on their splits. To take part please contact me by email by June 30th using the email address emily@fittodanceforlife.com
  13. Where are you based? I've had enough of zoom now! I'm itching to get back but sense tells me September might well be it. Unless I try running classes over the 'summer holidays'. Some children are going back to school next week but I can't apply the same distancing measures to dance classes (nor would I want to) so it's just about weighing up the risks. It seems most dance schools are staying shut until maybe gyms etc can re-open. I'm so worried that I'll have lost students due to lack of interest; there are some who I've not seen or heard from in ages and I don't even know if they're going to come back! It's a very anxious time....
  14. Pinkpip100 where are you based in the country? (although right now thats somewhat of a moot point!) I run a Midlands based associate-type scheme where there is a large emphasis on the conditioning side of dance training (strength, flexibility, core placement and technique) as it's such an important foundation to build the ballet technique onto. We've had many students continue to train with their local teacher and us, before going to vocational school in year 9 or 10 (Elmhurst, Tring, YDA, Hammond) so we are well-versed in making sure students are keeping up with the standard required to then allow them to join at a later date. Some teachers just don't have an idea of the level of progress required to ensure that students can 'slot into a year group' later. I'm always happy to advise parents, give private coaching or training programmes. Please drop me a message if you are interested.
  15. drdance

    Icebath?

    Ice baths work by several mechanisms - one is rapid narrowing of the blood vessels anywhere near the cold, first reducing the flow of blood and other nutrients (including oxygen) to the limbs. In an adult with a fully developed circulatory system this 'shock' is beneficial but can be harmful for anyone with circulatory problems. The extreme cold also reduces spasms and cramps in muscles because the cold limits their ability to maintain contraction/tension. Once the person gets out of the ice bath, the blood vessels widen up again and this causes a 'rush' of blood to the limbs again which kind of kick-starts the circulation and speeds up supply of nutrients and removal of waste products. The circulatory system needs to be robust enough to cope with this and I wouldn't think that a childs body would cope very well with it.
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