By Bethany Fagan Good
(with guidance from Stevie Oakes)
As dancers, our bodies are our greatest assets. Even knowing this, we are often beating up our bodies, pushing them beyond unconceivable limits, and then asking for more. What makes this never-ending cycle possible is devotion to the care of our bodies. Often our bodies are simply telling us to rest, take it back a notch, limiting movement in order to prevent detrimental injury. Unfortunately, these signals present themselves during the busiest of times, typically after some damage has already occurred – be it from over-working or sometimes ignoring. So what can we do in preparation? How can we focus on the care of our bodies as routine, rather than recovery?
Brockport’s Department of Dance has a tremendous reputation leading in dance science scholarship dating back to faculty like Sondra Fraleigh, Dr. Natalie Goodhartz and Susannah Newman and maintained more recently by Jacqueline Davis and William Evans, to name a few. Our beautiful facilities – from the glorious studios with sprung floors and open spaces to the well-stocked conditioning lab and health pool – are further testament to the value placed upon healthy practice. The emphasis on wellness and awareness in the body has certainly been preserved in somatic practices and teachings of our current faculty. Assistant Professor Stevie Oakes builds on this legacy with the development of an injury prevention initiative and its related education.
Stevie is a welcomed and appreciated resource for the care of our bodies during her Kinesiology for dancers course and individual meetings, she is taking another step towards the fuller initiative this coming semester with a Conditioning Injury Prevention course. This one-credit lab course will workshop stretching and conditioning techniques focusing on targeted regional anatomy as well as general biomechanics. Each student will have the opportunity to identify personal dance fitness goals and develop an appropriate individualized program.
In the future, Stevie plans to set up a robust Injury Prevention Program students will undergo a “pre-season” screening based upon an internationally implemented surveillance program, IPAIRS (International Performing Arts Injury Reporting System). Students will become aware of lateral discrepancies in strength and flexibility or other factors. From this screening, dancers will receive a personalized exercise program to follow during their first semester in the dance program, enabling them to address any “red flags” that have been linked to injury patterns in dance and sport.
Here’s a note from Stevie in regards to other details to be included in this program: “I hope to increase communication between athletic training department and dance faculty so that restrictions and rehabilitation timelines are clear in the event of an injury. Offering alternatives to technique observation and brainstorming the instruction of appropriate modifications for participation seem pivotal in promoting dancer health. To round out the program, I hope to offer periodic brown bag discussions – informal lunches aimed at answering questions and providing resources on various health and wellness topics like nutrition, meditation or strength training.”
Injury prevention and empowerment through information benefit our graduates as they enter the dance world in performance, choreography and education. All of our dance majors who bring their talents to other disciplines are also served by this arm of their education, encouraging efficiency in body and overall health for longevity.