The different aspects of a safe studio practice, which are of concern to us as dancers
As dancers, safe studio practice is essential. There are many ways to keep safe and stop injury. There are three main issues that need considering when thinking about safe studio practices. These three are a safe environment, the individual dancer and the movements. These three issues include many factors that I will write about in this essay.
A safe environment is one of the main issues in keeping a safe studio practice. Dancers need a sprung floor. This is an extremely important factor in environmental causes of injury. The actual floor construction is of the greatest importance to the dancer. A lack of springs can produce many injuries, notably foot problems, injuries in the lumbar region of the spine, in the taking off and landing muscles and in the bones. When considering the floor, the actual surface is important. The difficulties associated with a slippery surface are obvious. Also the floor needs to be cleaned regularly so that rosin doesn’t build up, making dancers’ feet stick to the floor causing disastrous consequences.
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Temperature is a factor that needs to be considered. For dancers to rehearse or perform, they must be in a temperature that does not allow them to become chilled before, during or after any activity. The ambient temperature should not be any lower than 68-70o F. Muscle injuries in particular are more likely to take place if the dancers are adequately warmed up. Temperatures too high will also cause complications. Although not immediate injuries to the muscles, excessively high temperatures will lead to excessive sweating, causing water loss and the loss of sugars and salts.
If the water and minerals are replaced then no problem will occur, but if it is not, then this could lead to muscle cramps and spasms. Also the dancers will become dehydrated so their performances will not be to their maximum potential. Dehydration will also cause tiredness and lack of energy so it is essential that water loss is replaced. More serious medical problems could occur over a longer period if this was to carry on.
Sufficient space is needed when dancing. It is obvious that if there are lots of dancers in a small room, leaping and creating large movements then there will be a collision of dancers and a lot of injuries caused, due to the lack of space. Dancers need as much space as possible to perform to their maximum ability. It is dangerous to have too many dancers in one room at a time. Also, if a show or dance company were to take place, the dancers would need to be dancing and rehearsing everyday. If the dancers have no spaces large enough for them to even construct their own daily classes, then, they will be in a situation where they have to perform in the shows each evening without having adequate preparation earlier in the day. It is when this happens that injuries occur at a steady rate.
Whilst performing and rehearsing, the room being danced in should be clear, with no obstacles in the way for obvious reasons. If a dancer was to be doing leaps and spins etc and were to bang into an obstacle this would be extremely dangerous and a safety hazard.
The height of the ceiling is another important factor. If the ceiling is too low then a dancer could hit themselves on it whilst jumping. The ceiling should be at least 7.5 ft, allowing the dancer to be able to jump as high as they possibly can without needing to worry about injuries taking place.
Another main issue of keeping safe during studio practice is the individual dancer’s themselves. For dancers to be safe, they themselves have to think of many factors.
Clothes worn must not be too long so that they get in the way of the dancer, causing them to trip or fall. They must not be too revealing either and should provide support if and where necessary. Also, the clothes worn could be a restriction to the dancers’ movements so the ideal clothes to wear would be leotard, tights, leggings, jazz pants, shorts etc.
Dancers should always have a set of clothes separate from what the dance in for their own hygiene. Dancers’ clothes should be layered to cope with a variety of body temperatures and allow dancers to stretch.
For the dancers’ safety they must wear no jewellery. It could get caught and cause severe injuries. Their footwear is important too. They must wear footwear that allows them to be able to move to their maximum potential. Jazz or ballet shoes are ideal because the feet cannot get splinters through them and they keep the feet warm. Ideally the best footwear to dance in for maximum movement is barefoot, but if the dancer is to perform barefooted, the floor must be varnished and carefully swept so there is no chance of getting splinters.
Hair must be tied back so it does not get in the way and cause the dancer to have to move it, ruining the performance and professionalism. Also, when hair is tied back it is off the neck and therefore, cooler.
A good diet is important in maintaining the healing processes at a dancers peak of efficiency and also helps to prevent injury by keeping the body in the best condition. A sensible and well-informed choice of food and meals not only provides adequate nutrition but also helps to prevent the dancer becoming either overweight or underweight.
Drinking is a huge importance in a dancer’s life. Keeping them hydrated (as mentioned earlier) allows them to perform to their maximum ability. This is best achieved by drinking small amounts fairly frequently and regularly. By doing this, dehydration and excessive thirst is avoided.
Obviously natural hygiene of a dancer needs to take place in order to keep them healthy and clean. Frequent showers need to be taken due to the amount dancer’s sweat.
The last main issue of keeping safe during studio practice is the movement’s themselves.
It is essential that dancer’s warm-up before they dance. Warm-ups are gradual physical and mental preparations for greater exertion, which increases
* Heart rate
* The deep temperatures of the muscles- thereby improving their contractibility and flexibility
* The flexibility of tendons and reaction speed
* Blood sugar and adrenaline levels
Warm-ups should include exercises that raise the pulse rate; mobilise the joints and stretch the muscles.
Once warmed up and ready to dance, dancers should dance to their own capabilities. If one feels faint then one should stop dancing and take a break. Dancers should listen to their bodies. As dancers dance more and more, their stamina increases and they gradually get better, doing more for a longer period f time.
When dancers finish dancing they must do a cool down. This is the gradual slowing down of the circulation in order to return to a resting heart rate. Stopping exercise too suddenly can cause the pooling of blood in previously active areas such as the lower limbs causing soreness, fainting and dizziness. Cool downs consist of gentle stretching or breathing exercises for about 5 minutes. Wearing warm clothes after dancing helps to avoid pulls and aches.
We can see now that there are many different aspects to consider in order of having a safe studio practice. That is why the dancers need a safe environment, the dancers themselves need to be in the correct clothes with a balanced duet and the movements need to be danced carefully with a warm-up and a cool down.
Once all this is taken care of, injury will generally not take place and a dancer will have a safe studio practice.