Pilates vs. Strength Training for Injury Prevention in University Dance Students
Too often, dancers are told that rest is the prescription for healing. A life in dance requires a different kind of injury management, so that dancers can recognize early warning signs of injury risk and work differently, strengthening necessary muscle groups and alignment integrity in order to continue working with our particular issues. Dancers instinctively know that some mobility is better than none, as this brings blood flow, healing, and strengthening. We want our students to stop “powering through” pain and work smarter so they are able to prevent debilitating injury, while still maintaining active, rigorous practice and as full an expressive capability as possible.
Over the past year, Texas Tech University dance professors Tanya Calamoneri and Ali Duffy partnered with kinesiology professor John Harry to conduct research in a motion capture lab, examining the impact forces on the hip, knee, and ankle/foot joints during a series of dance movements, with a mixed population of student dancers. Based on an analysis of this data, the team proposed interventions to modify actions toward more efficient performance and also to better prepare the dancers for said movements through targeted strength training and Pilates regimens, with the goal of then reassessing the dancers following a semester of implementation.
In this panel presentation, Professors Duffy and Calamoneri will describe the research study and provide an overview of results based on data collected thus far. A third panelist, an undergraduate dance student at Texas Tech who participated in the research, will shed light on how the project has impacted students’ perceptions of and understanding of their bodies in movement and will note any areas of improved strength and/or mobility due to suggested interventions.
We are interested in connecting the ideas in this study with the underlying conference topic of borders, considering “border as a somatic, educational site of learning and community building.” We look at the typical prescription for injury, which is often rest and inactivity, within the context of dance training and performance, in which a dancer must work through injury. How is the logic of healing stretched in this context? How much movement is beneficial and when is it detrimental? How does the discipline of dance stretch the borders of body capabilities? Whereas we approach the research from multiple angles, each of the researchers offering differing specialties and positions within dance and kinesiology, we negotiate the bounds of each discipline in offering research that blends the two areas.
Ali Duffy is an Associate Professor of Dance at Texas Tech University, where she also teaches in the Honors College, and is the founder and Artistic Director of Flatlands Dance Theatre (www.flatlandsdace.org). Ali holds a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University, an MFA in Dance from UNC Greensboro, and a BA in Dance from UNC Charlotte. Dr. Duffy has been published in Research in Dance Education, the Journal of Emerging Dance Scholarship, World Dance Reviews, Ballet-Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine, among others and her scholarship has been presented internationally in Australia, Northern Ireland, Hungary, and widely at national conferences. Dr. Duffy also enjoys commissions and invited choreography presentations and teaching residencies at universities and with companies across the country.
Tanya Calamoneri is an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University. She received her PhD from Temple University and is published Dance Chronicle, TDPT journal, and the Routledge Butoh Companion. She is a certified yoga teacher and somatic movement therapist, and has conducted injury prevention projects with athletes including hockey players and dancers.