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A Study of Dancers Who Have Had a Significant Injury


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Cambridge University



A study is currently being carried out at Cambridge University on the lives of dancers who have sustained a serious injury affecting their ability to perform, and that may influence – or has already influenced – their career choices. The aim of this research is to identify how injury affects dancers’ lives, and the most effective ways of dealing with its impact.


Are you eligible to participate?

You are eligible to be part of the study if all three of the following points describe you:

·         I am or previously was a professional dancer.

·         I have or had an injury that prevents/prevented me from dancing as I did before.

·         Because of my injury, I am currently considering or previously considered changing the kind of work I do.


What is involved?

·         This is an interview study in which participants are asked to talk about their experience of injury, and how this has affected them, professionally and in other ways.

·         Each participant will be interviewed one-on-one by the researcher.

·         The interview will last 1-2 hours, and will be conducted privately, and in complete confidence.

·         Wherever possible, the interview will be conducted in person, but can also be carried out by phone if this is preferred.

·         The names of those involved in the study will be kept completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone, either during the research process or after the study is complete.


Why participate?

This study explores how dancers deal with the impact of a debilitating injury on their lives. By participating in this study, you will be contributing to important research that may change the lives of other injured dancers, and help in the training of future dancers. You will also receive feedback on the study’s key findings. In addition, you may find that the interview provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on your experiences and the choices that you have made.


The researcher: Sally Maitlis

Dr Sally Maitlis is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and is currently a Visiting Professor at Cambridge University. She has studied creative organizations and their members for over 15 years, including British symphony orchestras, a Canadian game design company, and artistic and other performers with significant injuries. She is also a trained counsellor. For more information, please see: http://tinyurl.com/sallymaitlis

 Would you like to join this study?

Please contact Sally at maitlis@sauder.ubc.ca to learn more about the study and decide if you would like to participate in it.

Dance recipe article coming!


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Dance Science in action at LabanI have just been asked by Fitpro (Fitness Professionals) to contribue to an article in the next edition of their magazine! I believe the edition has a dance focus and I have to submitt my favourite recipe!

They have collected more from other dance professionals so should be an interesting and useful read!

Once it has come out in October, I will let you know so you can have a read!


Protein – Dear Body


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Protein - Dear BodyI really enjoyed this performance. It started out entertaining and continued throughout the whole perfromance! I felt the work was incredibly accesible to all audiences,  so no matter who you were, you could understand and follow the piece with great enjoyment.

The beginning drew on simple, stereotypical ‘gym user’ movements which the audience found very amusing as they were easy to  identify with. Gradually the piece’s story and movement vocabulary became more challenging and in depth, however at no point did you have to desperately try and figure out what was going on.

The piece was about how a lady who joins the gym for the first time and how different emotions and pressures  bombard her as she explores  the gym environemnt in her persuit of ‘body beauty’. These fears, pressures and feelings are something which I have found to be incredibly common with my clients.

Personally, I felt this was probably one of the best pieces I have seen this year. It was refreshing to simply enjoy the work and let it take you on a journey which was both hilarious and poignant.  

I would strongly recomend anybody (not just theatre goers!) to see this. I beleive this was movement based communication and theatre at its best which could have been enjoyed by everyone – not just the dance academics! And at the end of the day,  is that not what it is all about??

To read more about Protein go to www.proteindance.co.uk

ISTD Theatre Faculties’ Congress


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I will be going to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Theatre Faculties’ Congress on 10th of May 2009 at Laban. I am looking to forward to it as I will be experiencing some new styles of dance, Kathak and Classical Greek to name just two! This event is for ISTD teachers so if you are not associated to this association do not fret – I will be shortly telling you all about it!


Fitpro Spring Convention 2009


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Fitness Professionals
The Spring Fitpro Convention was held at Loughbourgh University from Thursday 17th to Sunday 19th of March 2009. This convention is held every year and it is open for anyone involved in the fitness or health industry. Most people there were Personal Trainers, Fitness Instructors, Fitness Managers or Exercise class instructors; however the event held classes, workshops or lectures which would have been of great benefit to people in sport or dance! Seminars ranged from enhancing training techniques, aqua choreography, yoga, nutrition, psychology of gym users etc. So much to choose from and many seminars which I would have liked to go to if there were more time.


The general atmosphere was that of learning, discovery and passion! Although the gentlemen attendees I spoke to seemed to want to display their superior knowledge! The majority of the people I met were extremely friendly with a genuine desire to learn. Overall there was not a competitive atmosphere, which personally I

cannot stand and unfortunately in my experience, seems to be present at many conventions.


I selected the seminars which I could most easily apply to training dancers or similar problems experienced by the dance community. I arrived on the Saturday morning and the first lecture set me up for the rest of the weekend – absolutely fantastic! Because every session was so interesting I thought it would be best to hear the highlights;


 Greg Roskopf

Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) – Greg Roskopf MA



Greg Roskopf is the founder of this theory and it has rapidly been recognised as a technique which is essential for rehabilitation. His severe experience with sports related injuries in his early years prompted him to investigate pain and injuries. This is where he discovered the basis of his

‘Muscle Activation Technique’ which is ‘A biomechanically based process for identifying and correcting muscular imbalances that contribute to chronic pain and injury’ (Session notes 2009).


  • Whilst many of us assume that we need to stretch out muscles to increase our flexibility and ease the pain, work through the pain or stop doing exercise which causes the pain, MAT has found that by following these actions either does not address the problem or can actually increase the problem and cause more pain. The fundamental thinking behind this technique is to find the actual problem (not necessarily where the pain is) and activate and strengthen those muscles.


  • Improving the communication pathways between the brain and the muscles is a key process in this technique. By strengthening this communication, movement can be dramatically improved with out flexibility or strength training. MAT looks at the neural issue behind the pain and stiffness as opposed to the soft tissue/muscle problem.

  • Muscle tightness is the body’s reaction to instability which is an automatic protection mechanism. Stabilise the body and range of movement can be increased. The stabilising muscles are slow twitch fibres which means slow controlled stabilising movements need to be included within a training program. These deep muscles need stamina and endurance as they are used constantly within the body (involved in posture and alignment).


The great thing about this technique is that it is a prerequisite to movement and prepares the body to move in an efficient and healthy manner. This is defiantly something which will benefit dancers. MAT logo


Instead of stretching or massaging pain away, how about locating the REAL issue first and improve the communication between the brain and that weak muscle?  Not only does this require less strenuous activity but it will improve your technique and movement in general.

 For more information contact me or visit the MAT website.


Swiss ball techniques for corrective posture & stability deficits – Paul Check HHPPaul Chek



Paul Check him self is an interesting character! His presentation was vibrant, well communicated and entertaining! Although personally I did not feel quite at comfort with his style of presenting, his knowledge and Swiss ball techniques were excellent.



·        Paul began the workshop with a survival reflex exercise which was really interesting and a useful tool. ‘Using the survival reflex overrides the inhibitory pathways which have been developed, to active the correct muscles’. Just by lightly pushing a client who is sat on a Swiss ball, can activate core muscles which have been, or are inactive. This really works and is actually quite tiring! People in general develop bad posture and alignment by not activating the correct muscles in the body. The problem is they do not often realise it! This method is simple but extremely effective and you can feel the difference in the body instantly!


·        ‘The brain always moves where there is strength’. So the stronger muscles dominate the movement which ultimately increases their strength. This also ingrains and strengthens the communication between the brain and the dominant muscles creating imbalance. It is the weaker muscles which must be focused on, which means taking simpler movements and practising/strengthening those pathways slowly.   


·        A simple trick to quickly activate muscles is to gently touch them. Whilst a client is moving, you can gently tap the muscles which should be working. This activates the muscle and allows you to find out if they are actually using the correct muscles or not. 


·        There are four main training benefits of using the Swiss ball in this approach;Chek Institute

1.       Nervous system training

2.       Survival reflexes (dormant muscles, reflex training for righting and tilting


3.       Avoiding fixed patterns of movement

4.       Assessment, postural and stability improvement plus core conditioning rolled into one exercise (Big BangTM exercises)


All of the exercises and techniques are great for dancers. Rather than trying to build strength in the conventional way – lifting weights, conditioning exercises (which many dancers do not like for fear of ‘bulking up’), these exercises provide strength training for the many other areas of the body which are commonly neglected.


After all, it is the combination of the core, stabilisers and proprioception (communication between the brain and muscle receptors) which actually determine our quality of movement. Quality of movement – Is this not we strive so greatly for as dancers? Yes! So strengthening these 3 areas should be a priority. 

For more information contact me or visit the Check Institute website.

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© Copyright Rebecca Dalby 2015

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