Leanne Stojmenov and Kevin Jackson. Photo James Braund
Fit and functional - being a professional dancer requires a healthy body and mind
All dancers encounter some kind of injury throughout their career. This is why they need to tailor their lifestyle to suit their needs, strengths and weaknesses. Implementing strategies to support their dancing outside of their time in the studio will minimise risk of injury and, in turn, prolong their careers. These strategies involve rest, play and communicating concerns to friends, family, and practitioners within the ballet.
Learning to recognise the early signs of fatigue and physical limitations is essential for every dancer. These self awareness/observation skills minimise the risk of injury, aid in recovery and support good dance technique. A dancer’s career is shorter compared to other professions. Communication is profoundly important to prevent injury, aid recovery, support good dance technique and prolong a dancer’s performance career.
A framework of support around a dancer’s life may be diverse
A dancer’s rehearsal schedule can be strenuous and time-consuming, but many pursue interests outside of the studio: other fields of education, sports and art forms. Some dancers juggle family life with dancing and continue to dance professionally. With such varied lifestyles, dancers call on professional networks of support. Industry and health specialists support the dancer in fields as diverse as nutrition and performance psychology. This level of guidance assists to improve balance in the dancer’s workload.
Dancers need to maintain a high level of cardiovascular fitness; they develop their muscular endurance, balance and strength over their career both inside and outside the dance studio environment. A dancer may use a variety of conditioning techniques and health based movement methods, such as Pilates, Alexander Technique, yoga, and gym work. Finding the right mix and balance of daily activity takes time and requires professional development and ongoing education.
Dancers work in a variety of environments, from developing and leading an independent project and/or to being a member of a dance company
Professional dancers tour nationally, internationally and rehearse with other dancers daily. So supporting their fellow dancers and developing team spirit is essential. However, learning to work alone is just as important; dancers are often required to travel overseas alone for special training or performances. Working in diverse environments as both individual artists and team members is another challenge on the road to a successful dance career.