Ground-breaking fitness and rehabilitation techniques to help dancers avoid injury have been developed by Elmhurst Ballet School in collaboration with the University of Wolverhampton.
Along with the University, the Edgbaston based ballet school, in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, is at the forefront of research in dance science.
It is pioneering ways for dancers to avoid injury by new techniques delivered by Performance Enhancement Coach, Nico Kolokythas, a PhD Student at the University.
The technique gives dancers the option to sidestep surgery and return to an improved strength and fitness level observed at pre-injury.
During the course of the current academic year, Nico Kolokythas has been putting the pioneering work to practise through the School’s Health and Wellbeing Centre, which opened just over a year ago.
One case study is highlighted in a short film, Up the Spiral and shows the intervention with 2017 Elmhurst graduate Jade Wallace. Jade, a ballet category finalist in the recent BBC Young Dancer competition, will join Birmingham Royal Ballet as an Apprentice in August. Jade turned to the expertise of the Health and Wellbeing Centre to promote rehabilitation for excruciating ankle pain.
Nico said: "The purpose of this multidisciplinary case study with Jade had a two-pronged approach. First we decided with Nick Allen, Clinical Director at Birmingham Royal Ballet, that in order to eliminate the possibility of an operation we had to use all possible means available to promote rehabilitation of a pain in the ankle for Jade.
“I worked with Jade to develop foundation strength in order to be able to push the boundaries. However, the rehabilitation was not a straight line upwards, we did have moments where pain simply came back and therefore a careful regression and progression strategy was applied.
“Our second aim was to debunk the myths around female dancers using weights and resistance training in general with the fear of losing the classical aesthetic look. Research based practise in sport has shown that strength gains can be achieved without muscle size and this is clearly seen in Jade's physique. We monitored closely her body composition and the numbers are impressive, decreased body fat and no change in muscle mass and therefore no extra size.
“But the most important success is that we now have a dancer free of pain, who feels stronger, more confident with her body and feels her dance effortless."
The School produces world class dancers through a holistic approach to training, education and health. This methodology supports the intensity of full-time training and helps students to develop into independent, collaborative and versatile artists, professional-ready for the competitive dance sector.
Jessica Wheeler, Principal of Elmhurst Ballet School, said: "This case study and video shows how much importance Elmhurst Ballet School places on evidence based practise to deliver the best health and well-being provision for its students. Being at the forefront of research in dance science and having Nico Kolokythas working at the school as Performance Enhancement Coach has had a direct impact on the outcomes for students - Jade's case study is testimony to this. Nico's interaction with Jade has seen her return to full health, stronger and fitter than ever before and ready to start her professional dancer life with Birmingham Royal Ballet."
Photo credit: Jade Wallace - from Elmhurst Ballet School student to Birmingham Royal Ballet Apprentice – photography by Johan Persson
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