The Dancer Wellness Program, a founding affiliate of the Dancer Wellness Project, is a program designed to assist dancers, dance educators, and medical care practitioners who interface with dancers. The goal is to provide a wide array of information about the dancers’ individual instrument, that being their body, both to the dancer and to the instructors, practitioners and medical professionals with whom the dancer may interact. The Dancer Wellness Program has been used as a model for the development of other such programs at other universities and has been featured in various publications.
With integration of theory provided by lecture classes such as kinesiology the overall intention and goals of the Dancer Wellness Program is to:
- Aid in making the dancers’ training more efficient and effective.
- Aid in preventing injuries.
- Provide valuable resources and information to assist in the rehabilitation of injuries.
- Assist educators and medical care practitioners by providing valuable quantifiable information about the dancer that can not be derived by simple observations in the dance technique class nor in the rehearsal studio.
- Continue to develop a body of quantifiable data that uniquely addresses the physical characteristics and demands of dancers’ musculoskeletal system in order to promote the ongoing research into dancer health, physical attributes, injury prevention and biomechanical efficiency.
The primary aspects of the program consist of an annual screening process in which all the dancers of the dance program are screened using established physical therapy protocols. Muscle strength, flexibility, structural analysis, cardiovascular health, body fat composition and balance are just some of the data collected. This information is then used to create an individualized profile for each dancer. Areas of concern can be identified using established norms for such subjects. Through the access of data and analysis via the Dancer Wellness Project website, suggested course of action for such areas of concern are presented. The annual process allows for follow up and progress reports on such areas/issues.
Kinesiology and Introductory Seminars
Kinesiology is part of the regular class offerings to the students of the dance department. This class introduces, examines, and explores the principles of kinesiology and biomechanics. Additionally, a special seminar course explores topics in nutrition, injury prevention and rehabilitation, and aspects of psychological health and wellbeing.
A complete biomechanical assessment of all dancers is accomplished via the annual screening at Mather Dance Center. This screen assesses various areas of strength, range of motion, cardiovascular health, and body composition. This data is recorded and analyzed for each dancer.
Each dancer is re-screened each year thus allowing the dancer to continue to monitor progress and help program faculty continue to assist with development of strength, stretch, and general health.
Upon analysis of screening data, each dancer meets individually with a physical therapist or other qualified expert who helps customize a unique and individual course of cross training to assist with cited areas of concerns.
Integration into Program of Study
Each student of the program participates in a Dancer Wellness screen each year. The kinesiology class serves to introduce the applicable material. Program credit is ascribed to the program of study at the completion of the graduate program.