Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Register
General
Blog Home All Blogs

Measuring a Pirouette: Tackling the challenge of quantifying dance

Posted By Catherine Haber on behalf of the IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Pirouettes are incredibly challenging for dancers to perform, but also for scientists to study! As we heard from January’s post, physical principles – such as torque, force couples, angular acceleration, and conservation of angular momentum – can help us gain better insights into performance. However, beyond these principles, there are a multitude of crucial elements that go into the performance of a pirouette. The dancer must balance in a proper passé position, reach a high relevé on the supporting foot, hold the arms in first, engage the core, spot his head, and many more! With all these components to coordinate, what should the dancer focus on, and what should the scientist measure?

 

With a double Bachelors in Dance and Physics, I was thrilled to begin working as a research assistant during my Graduate studies to Dr. Andrea Schaerli, in her research of the influence of spotting on postural stability in the ballet rotations of pirouettes and fouettés. We recorded dancers in motion capture labs performing rotations, and I was eager to direct my knowledge in physics to my passion of dance. I calculated everything from the displacement of the supporting foot, the trajectory of the center of mass (COM), the velocity of the head spotting, the separation of the head, trunk, and pelvis coordination, and many more variables that triggered my interest. However, it quickly became overwhelming when I realized the magnitude of possibilities for analysis. The question became not only what should we measure, but also – at the end of the day – what measure is the most relevant and applicable to the dance population? How can we as researchers find meaningful outcome measures that most closely capture the dancer’s experience of performance?

 

In a day and age of great technological advances, movement can be measured in many ways - from 2D video analysis to 3D motion capture, force platforms and electromyography (EMG) measures of muscle activation, and even the direction of eye movements. Yet dance inherently relies on experiential and aesthetic variable that can be challenging to quantify. Studying dance thus calls for the creation and validation of dance-specific measures. Therefore, we performed two small studies to integrate dancers’ impressions of performance into our analysis.

 

The first of these two studies was a pilot study that aimed to validate a balance measure that best predicts the performance of pirouettes. To this end, eight intermediate dancers performed many pirouettes in our movement lab and rated their performance after each turn, while the researcher independently did the same. Followingly, we correlated the most predominantly used measures of pirouette performance in dance science research with the dancers’ and researcher’s impression of the turn.

 

Here, it was found that the dancers’ performance was highly correlated with the angular deviation of the pelvis center from vertical – that is, how far off the center of the pelvis is from the vertical line drawn up from the supporting toe. This follows previous findings of smaller angular deviations between the center of mass (COM) and a vertical line from the base of support (here, approximated at the supporting toe) during successful pirouettes. In our study, the dancers gave their turns higher performance ratings when their pelvis – rather than the COM – was closer to this vertical line. This was an interesting finding for two reasons. From a research perspective, the deviation of the pelvis was highly correlated to the deviation of the COM (with this ‘true center’ actually residing within the pelvis of these female dancers during the pirouette). This means that researchers could use the pelvis center as an economical approximation for the tediously calculated COM during pirouettes. From the perspective of the dancer, while it may be challenging to have a clear understanding of your ‘true center’ throughout dynamic movements, being in tune to where your pelvis is can be a good starting point for pirouettes.

 

A second interesting finding was that from the observers’ perspective, performance was best associated with the instantaneous axis of rotation – that is, the deviation of the best-fit line through the head, torso, and supporting leg, from vertical. The observer perceived better turns based on this holistic impression of verticality. Therefore, this pilot validated additional measures of pirouette performance that best represented the impression of the dancer and the observer.

 

In a second effort to incorporate dancers’ opinions into research, we performed a Delphi Method survey to gather expert opinions on the characteristics and uses of spotting. While many measures have been used to describe balance in pirouettes, little research has been done on spotting itself. Therefore, we asked professional ballet dancers, professional ballet teachers, and dance scientists to participate in a Delphi Method survey, bringing together expert opinions over iterative rounds to generate ideas and to evaluate levels of consensus. After three rounds of first brainstorming ideas, then rating agreement on the group’s ideas, and finally ranking the most important ideas, the consensus of the group was actually quite low in defining the most important characteristics and uses of spotting. However, a novel variety of topics were proposed. Building on the traditional suggestions of spotting for balance and reduction of dizziness, spotting was suggested to have further functionality for orientation, rhythm, and particularly in multiple turns.

 

The value of integrated expert opinions was quite apparent when it came to aspects of rhythm. When splitting the group into dance practitioners (teachers and dancers) and dance scientists, it appeared that the practitioners had a great affinity for topics relating to rhythm. In contrast, dance scientists tended to rank these topics relating to rhythm very low. This survey was thus able to bring new perspectives to the understanding of spotting that can serve as meaningful hypotheses for future movement-based research. As such, we performed a study last fall capturing professional dancers performing the multiple rotations of fouetté and a la secondé turns to examine exactly these proposed functionalities of spotting.

 

 

Analyzing dance from a scientific perspective can be a challenging feat. However, we must not forget why we are motivated to do such research: to help improve dancers’ performance! Particularly from the perspective of movement analysis where one can become fixated on degrees of difference or centimeters in jump height, the perception of the dancer must not be lost. Dance is an interdisciplinary, physical system yet to be fully analyzed. With collaborative efforts of the community of practitioners and researchers, we can determine comprehensive, dance-specific measures and methodologies to benefit the well-being and training of dancers.

 

Catherine Haber is a Graduate student, currently finishing a MAS in Dance Science and a MSc in Sport Science Research, and a research assistant to Dr. Andrea Schaerli at the Institute of Sport Science at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Tags:  dancers  pirouette  research  turn 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Does dancing in heels hurt your knees? This may be why.

Posted By Pamela Mikkelsen on behalf of the IADMS Promotion Committee, Thursday, February 14, 2019

Dancers know that the shoes we wear impact how our bodies feel after dancing. I know that dancing full production shows in heels left my knees sore in ways that wearing flat shoes didn’t. Some of this soreness can be explained by differences in choreography demands but how much of the soreness could come down to the shoes? There is little research on how performing the same task in different shoes changes how much the leg joints and muscles work. In a recent study published in Medical Problems for Performing Artists, we examined the impact of wearing heeled shoes on a basic dance jump: sautés.

 

We found that wearing heels causes the knee joint and muscles to work more while the ankle works less even when the choreography is the same. As dancers, we know the body has a great ability to adapt and perform under different conditions and this is a good demonstration but we can use this new knowledge to decrease injury rates in dancers. For instance, choosing flat shoes instead of heels during long rehearsals may be a safer choice with regard to minimizing knee pain for a show that requires heeled shoes for performance. Also, the footwear choice of a production may be influenced by understanding the demands of the choreography with the production team deciding on a flatter shoe to promote knee health of the performers. This research also demonstrates one potential benefit to wearing heeled shoes with the use of “teacher shoes” for instructors that have ankle injuries like Achilles tendon pain. The slight heel height may decrease the demand on the ankle and redistribute it to the knee for improved tolerance to being on one’s feet all day. This study provides further evidence to consider footwear, and especially heeled shoes, for performance and rehearsal with regard to potential overuse injuries.

 

The research was done by analyzing the mechanics of each joint of the leg during the sautés. The individual joints of the leg must each produce energy in order to do a movement like a jump. The amount of energy produced to create movement is called work and the different joints will do different amounts of work for different movements. Our study looked at how much work the hip, knee, and ankle each performed doing repeated sautés in bare feet and when wearing heeled character shoes. We had ten female dancers participate at the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Southern California. We found that, when wearing heels, the work was significantly shifted toward the knee and away from the ankle. The ankle produced less energy while the knee produced more to do the same sauté. 

 

 

The figure shows the phases of a sauté: Contact Phase, when the dancer is on the ground, and Flight, when the dancer is in the air. The Contact Phase can be broken into Energy Absorption (landing) where the leg joints do work to decelerate the body as it comes down and Energy Generation (take-off) where the leg joints do work to push the body upward. We found that the knee does more work than the ankle during both the landing and the take-off of a saute when wearing heels.

 

We hypothesized a few different reasons for the differences seen when wearing heels. When wearing heels, the foot is in more of a pointed position and the ankle can’t move as much as when barefoot. This may cause the dancer to use the knee more when wearing heels. Other reasons include the dancer’s perception of friction and feeling less stable in heels. The increase in knee demand indicates that footwear may contribute to knee injuries seen in dancers and should be considered when making choices during rehearsal and performance.

 

*****

The research was performed by me, Pamela Mikkelsen, PT, DPT, OCS; Danielle N Jarvis, PhD, ATC; and Kornelia Kulig, PT, PhD. I am a physical therapist that specializes in outpatient orthopedics in Los Angeles and an adjunct instructor of clinical physical therapy at the University of Southern California. In addition to working with the general orthopedic population, I work with dancers and have an interest in preventing injury this unique population. I worked as a professional dancer and teacher for over ten years and am excited to contribute to the scientific knowledge of this art form and help strive for safer practices.  

Tags:  ankle  dancers  heels  knee  research 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

IADMS 2017: Speaker Jatin Ambegaonkar

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Introducing Jatin Ambegaonkar - a featured speaker at this year's Annual Conference and the Chair of the IADMS Research Committee. Check out an interview with Jatin here.

 

 

1.          Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 27th IADMS Annual Conference? 

 

Dancers often perform hop, jump, and land motions to achieve a graceful performance aesthetic. Dance training may lead to dancers using one leg preferentially over the other(i.e. LE asymmetry). Little research has examined LE symmetry in dancers. We examined single-leg horizontal work, balance, and LE symmetry in female collegiate dancers and found  that lower extremity single-leg horizontal work and balance are symmetrical in healthy female collegiate dancers. 

 

 

2.          Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?

 

 Over 50% of dancers’ landings involve a single leg. Dancers thus need adequate single-leg Lower Extremity(LE) horizontal work(i.e. horizontal hopping) and balance to perform these motions. Clinicians also often use performance on one leg as compared to the other to determine return-to-activity post injury(e.g.>85% performance on injured vs. non-injured leg).   Educators can design dance routines that require single-leg motions on either leg without worrying about whether female collegiate dancers’ single leg hops or balance differs across legs. Clinicians can also use uninjured leg’s hop and balance as baselines to determine return-to-activity values for the injured leg    

 

 

3.          What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?  

 

Very relevant -  IADMS is a multi-disciplinary platform for all those interested in reducing injury risk and improving performance in dancers

 

 

4.          Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences? 

 

 I enjoy meeting and learning from multi-disciplinary experts about how to reduce injury risk and improve performance in dancers  

 

 

5.          What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?  

 

The Duels and the research presentations.

Tags:  Annual Conference  research 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Bridging Dance and Health in Brazil, Part I: The early steps of an emerging field

Posted By Clara Fischer Gam, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In 2016, all eyes are on Brazil - country that will be hosting the Olympic Games this year. Inspired by this vibrant atmosphere, today we start a post series about the opportunities and challenges of Dance and Health in Brazil – from our members’ perspective!

 


A Brazilian myself, I’ve recently returned to my country after a year and a half in Britain. Having experienced a bit of Dance Science at Trinity Laban and engaged with its community, I arrived back aiming to sense the field in Brazil and readily get involved.

 

If Dance Medicine and Science is in its early stages above the Tropics, it is no surprise that Brazilians are still forging the field. There are about a dozen IADMS members in Brazil. Among us there are Dancers, Researchers, Dance Teachers, Physicians, Physical Educators and Physical Therapists spread across the country.

 

Although there is interesting work being published, not much research has been undertaken in the realms of Dance Medicine and Science in this land. “Looking for references in Dance, I found that less than 5% of the studies listed were related to Dance Medicine”, says our member Dr. Izabela Lucchese Gavioli, rheumatologist, Dance professor at UFRGS and sports medicine specialist in South Brazil.

 

“Unfortunately, there is a lack of research in injury prevention and performance enhancement”, states another Brazilian member Barbara Pessali Marques, physical educator and founder of the Bastidores Centre for Dance Conditioning, located South East Brazil. Like me, Barbara felt the need to leave the country for expanding her knowledge of the field. Now, she is developing a doctoral research at Manchester Metropolitan University and looks forward to bring fresh learning home. 

 

Feeding a field of knowledge in its infancy, we face many challenges for achieving legitimacy and acceptance. “At the universities, in the dance departments, the same debate persists as to whether dance should be part of the PT or PE departments”, states IADMS member Adriano Bittar, physiotherapist for Quasar Cia de Dança and Dance professor at UEG, Midwest Brazil. “There is no doubt that Dance should have an autonomous department, and remain a field in itself. But I feel that these out-of-date conflicts end up diminishing interaction with other fields and mainly suppressing important discussions such as dancer’s health”. Resistance can also be found in other parts of the dance sector, Dr Gavioli suggests that “It’s a matter of conflicting ideologies; people tend to think about dance science as rough and hard, which pejoratively labels knowledge that can be extremely useful to the dance professional”. 

 

We all know that issues of this kind resonate with Dance Medicine and Science worldwide, however in a country where most Dance programmes date from very recently, the circumstances could slow down the process for inquiry and communication to unfold within the sector. Paradoxically, it seems that the increasing number of courses being founded in the last few years opened up the space for discussing renovations in the traditional curriculum. Would there be a chance for implementing more up to date health modules in the programme? “The dancer is to some extend already a movement specialist, so by implementing dance medicine and science disciplines, their capacity to act upon their health and take ownership of their bodies would be expanded”, defends Dr. Bittar. Although there are changes taking place, at the moment health-related disciplines still encompass only a minor portion of the whole course. “Nationwide, programmes do not hold more than 5 credits dedicated to these subjects” affirms Dr. Aline Haas, an IADMS’ member who is Programme Leader of the BEd Dance at UFRGS, South Brazil.

                                                                                           

Taking a look at the overall picture, these members seem to agree that it is our task to nourish the field in order for it to thrive. If today in Brazil the intersection of dance and health is unsettled, I wonder how they could walk together, side by side. This inquiry motivated me to connect IADMS members in Brazil and to open up a space for integration and sharing to occur. After contacting them through the IADMS directory, we agreed to create a Facebook group to expand the possibilities of interaction. At the moment, we are about 30 people in the “Dance Science Brasil” group, connected through this network. 

 


In a country as big as Brazil, this initiative enabled me to gather information about some of the projects, aspirations and perspectives of the sector across the land through the eyes of our fellow IADMS members – which will be brought to you over this post series.

 

Despite the challenges involved in fostering an emerging field, it is very exciting to be at the source of future possibility – and have the chance to take part in it!

 

Watch out for the next instalment of Bridging Dance and Health in Brazil!

 

-          The Brazilian members of IADMS are:

            Adriano J. Bittar Sr

            Aline N. Haas

            Bárbara P. Marques

            Clara Fischer Gam

            Daisy M. Machado

            Flora M. Pitta

            Izabela L. Gavioli

            Kaanda N. Gontijo

            Marcia Leite

            Mariana G. Bahlis

 

 

Clara Fischer Gam, MS

MSc Dance Science

BEd Dance

Pilates Instructor

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
clara.figa@gmail.com

www.clarafischergam.com

.

.

.

.

.

 

Integrando Dança e Saúde no Brasil, Parte I: primeiros passos de um campo em ascensão

 

Em 2016, os olhos do mundo voltam-se para o Brasil - país que vai acolher os Jogos Olímpicos neste ano. Inspirados por essa atmosfera vibrante, hoje começamos uma série de postagens sobre as oportunidades e desafios da Dança e Saúde no Brasil – considerando os pontos de vista dos nossos membros brasileiros!

 

Eu também sou brasileira e recentemente retornei ao país, após um período de um ano e meio vivendo no Reino Unido. Por lá, pude experienciar a Ciência da Dança enquanto cursava meu mestrado na faculdade Trinity Laban Conservatoire, onde tive a chance de conectar-me à esta comunidade. Cheguei de volta com a intenção clara de compreender o campo no Brasil e a vontade pulsante de contribuir. 

 

Se a Medicina e Ciência da Dança está em seus estágios iniciais acima dos trópicos, não é de se surpreender que por aqui os brasileiros ainda estão construindo o campo. No país, temos cerca de uma dúzia de membros do IADMS. Fazem parte desse grupo bailarinos, pesquisadores, professores de dança, médicos, educadores físicos e fisioterapeutas espalhados por todo o país. 

 

Embora trabalhos muito interessantes venham sendo publicados ao longo dos anos, a quantidade de pesquisas desenvolvidas na área da Medicina e Ciência da Dança ainda é reduzida nessas terras: "Buscando por referências dentro do tema ‘Dança’, contabilizei que menos de 5% dos estudos encontrados se relacionavam com a Medicina da Dança", comenta Dr. Izabela Lucchese Gavioli, membro do IADMS, baseada em Porto Alegre, reumatologista, coreógrafa, professora de Dança na UFRGS e especialista em medicina esportiva. 

 

"Infelizmente, existem poucas pesquisas sobre prevenção de lesões e aprimoramento da performance", afirma outro membro brasileiro, Bárbara Pessali Marques, bailarina e educadora física, fundadora do ‘Bastidores Centro de Treinamento’ especializado em cuidar de bailarinos, na cidade de Belo Horizonte. Como eu, Bárbara sentiu a necessidade de sair do país para expandir seu conhecimento do campo. Nesse momento, ela está desenvolvendo a pesquisa de doutorado na Manchester Metropolitan University e espera em breve trazer de volta para casa todo o aprendizado adquirido com a experiência no Reino Unido. 

 

Por estarmos criando um campo ainda em seus primórdios, enfrentamos muitos desafios para alcançar legitimidade e aceitação: "Dentro dos departamentos de Dança das universidades, o mesmo debate persiste quanto a se a Dança deveria ser acoplada a outros departamentos, como Fisioterapia ou Educação Física", afirma nosso membro do IADMS Adriano Bittar, bailarino, fisioterapeuta na Quasar Cia de Dança e professor na UEG, em Goiânia. "Não há dúvida de que a Dança deve ter um departamento autônomo, e continuar a ser um campo em si mesmo. Mas eu sinto que estes conflitos antiquados acabam diminuindo a interação com outras áreas e, principalmente, suprimindo discussões importantes como a saúde do bailarino". Também é possível encontrar resistência em outras partes do setor de Dança, Dra. Gavioli sugere: "É uma questão de ideologias conflitantes; as pessoas tendem a pensar sobre a Ciência da Dança como áspera e dura, o que rotula pejorativamente um conhecimento que pode ser extremamente útil para o profissional de Dança". 

 

Sabemos que questões deste tipo circundam a Ciência e Medicina da Dança no mundo todo. No entanto, em um país onde a maioria dos programas acadêmicos de Dança datam de pouco tempo, as circunstâncias poderiam retardar o processo de investigação e o desenvolvimento da comunicação dentro do setor. Paradoxalmente, o número crescente de cursos universitários sendo criados nos últimos anos parece estar abrindo espaço para a discussão sobre reformas no currículo tradicional. Sendo assim, será que haveria oportunidade para a implementação de módulos mais atualizados sobre saúde do bailarino nos programas? "De certa maneira o bailarino já é um especialista do movimento. Portanto, com a implementação de disciplinas de Ciência e Medicina da Dança, a sua capacidade de agir pela sua saúde e se apropriar de seu corpo seria ampliada", defende Dr. Bittar. Apesar do progresso quanto a essas mudanças estruturais,  o número de disciplinas relacionadas à saúde ainda compõe uma pequena parte do currículo: "Em nível nacional, os programas não contém mais de cinco créditos dedicados a estes assuntos", afirma Dr. Aline Haas, gaúcha, membro do IADMS e professora de Dança na UFRGS. 

 

Observando o quadro geral, esses membros parecem concordar que temos a tarefa de nutrir o campo para que este possa prosperar. Se hoje no Brasil a intersecção entre Dança e Saúde é instável, eu me pergunto como elas poderiam caminhar juntas, lado a lado. Essa pergunta motivou-me a conectar os membros da IADMS no Brasil e abrir um espaço para a integração e troca ocorrer. Após entar em contato com eles através do diretório da IADMS, sugeri a criação de um grupo no Facebook para expandir as possibilidades de interação. No momento, somos cerca de 90 pessoas no grupo "Dance Science Brasil", conectados através dessa rede.

 

Em um país tão grande como o Brasil, essa iniciativa possibilitou a mim reunir informações sobre alguns dos projetos, aspirações e perspectivas do setor ao longo do território, através dos olhos de nossos membros da IADMS - que serão apresentados aqui para você nessa série de postagens.  Apesar dos desafios envolvidos na promoção de um campo emergente, é muito emocionante ver à frente o surgimento de múltiplas possibilidades - e ter a oportunidade de fazer parte desse processo! 

 

Fique ligado, em breve estará no ar a próxima edição do “Integrando Dança e Saúde no Brasil”! 

 

- Junte-se a nós no Grupo “Dance Science Brasil”!

 

 

- São membros brasileiros do IADMS:

Adriano J. Bittar

Aline N. Haas           

Bárbara P. Marques           

Clara Fischer Gam 

Cláudia Daronch        

Daisy M. Machado           

Flora M. Pitta           

Izabela L. Gavioli            

Kaanda N. Gontijo           

Marcia Leite           

Mariana G. Bahlis   

 

Clara Fischer Gam, Mestre Ciência da Dança

Licenciada em Dança

Administradora do grupo Dance Science Brasil

Co-fundadora do Corpos Aptos, Gestos Livres

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil


 

Tags:  Brazil  education in motion  research  teachers  translation 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

An intervention to improve turnout - Research Study

Posted By K. Michael Rowley, Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Many posts on the IADMS Blog from the Education Committee have been focused on the anatomy and control of turnout. But does awareness of where turnout comes from and exercise targeting hip external rotators actually make a difference in turnout a dancer can achieve? According to research from Florida State University published in the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, the answer is yes.

Researchers developed a 45-minutes daily 10-day training intervention focused on turnout. This included education and awareness practices as well as exercises like the clam, a passé press will side-lying, side lunge, attitude on a rotating disc, stretches, and tennis ball massage. What made this study unique was that outcome measures were not only turnout ability, but also the rating of dancers performing an adagio by graduate students and faculty before and after the intervention.

Five of the six dancers tested increased their total turnout, measured by the angle of the feet on low-friction rotating discs (figure above), by 9° to 22°. A faculty rater with expertise in body sciences reported all post-intervention performance videos as showing greater turnout control than pre-intervention. The report states that, “Her comments included: ‘The pelvis looked more stable’; ‘the torso looked more lengthened’; ‘the chest was more open’; ‘I saw a greater level of confidence’; ‘much less hip hiking’; and ‘the initiation of the rotation is coming from the back of the legs.’”

Pata D, Welsh T, Bailey J, and Range V. (2014) Improving turnout in university dancers. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 18 (4), 169-177.

Full text articles from the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science are available to IADMS members!


 Photo Credit: Dan Dunlap, SarahKim Vennard

Tags:  dancers  research  teachers  turnout 

PermalinkComments (0)
 
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal