DANCE HEALTH MATTERS
It is imperative as a dance community, that we strive towards incorporating policies, procedures, and methods that will enhance, and promote the physical, and mental wellness of dance artists. Building our level of education in the areas of dance medicine and science can ensure that our students, and fellow colleagues move forward armed with the knowledge, and ammunition to create a healthy, well informed dance population.
As a director, and counselor, I frequently encounter dancers who have experienced both physical injury, and personal stress. Throughout the course of my career, it has become evident that many dance artists continue on their journey, while pushing through the existence of these elements.
The notion that "The show must go on" has led many of us to work, and labour through these factors while attempting to accomplish our goals. Dance medicine has made significant breakthroughs in presenting our dance population with information that benefit our performance and health. Due to great research, and bio-mechanic studies, we have developed an understanding of treatment plans, medical avenues, and psycho-therapeutic options for dancers. Dance educators are becoming increasingly aware of the dynamics that cause soft bone injury such as improper teaching methods, and bad flooring which can add pressure, and cause undue stress to the lower extremities. Dance medicine has also allowed for mental health counselors to share current methods that provide holistic counselling options for dance artists, that focus on such key issues as self image, and anxiety.
Currently, associations such as Healthy Dancer Canada, The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, and many other notable organizations are presenting platforms to encourage and build education levels in the areas of relevant medicine and science. As a result of the magnitude of work being done by such organizations, many dance companies are conducting directives such as dance screening for new students that will allow for educators to intervene with appropriate options should an injury, or illness be detected. This early intervention and screening is an excellent initiative, and may permit dance artists to have a longer career.
At Inica Dance Industries (I.D.I), we have endeavored to join the great mission to educate the dance community by presenting platforms that allow for Dance Artists to learn from Allied health professionals. In early 2012, The "Building Your Optimal Health Workshop Series" was developed at I.D.I. The series aims to cover information on anatomy, physiotherapy and chiropractic medicine, nutrition, psychological methods and more.
Through these presentations, I.D.I desires to alert dancers, and educators of the key issues that we face, and how they can be counteracted to ensure healthy practices, and a long fruitful career. I encourage all educators to join the mission by increasing your level of education in Dance Medicine and Science. We have a generation of students that are seeking health and longevity within their careers. As Educators we are in a great position to pass on valuable information that can influence their paths.
The "Directives in Dance Medicine" article was originally published in 2012 for the Healthy Dancer Canada news edition.
MORE about Healthy Dancer Canada
Nicole Hamilton is the Artistic Director of Inica Dance Industries, a national Radio Host, Choreographer, and Performer.
Photography by Aleia Robinson-Ada of AR4Photography