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SCU study targets dancers


19 November 2004
Southern Cross University researchers are seeking trained ballet and contemporary dancers to take part in a research study aimed at understanding the physical demands of dance training and improving training regimes.

The project is being conducted by SCU’s Division of Health and Applied Sciences and Division of Arts in collaboration with NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts).

SCU researcher Ms Rosanne Coutts said ballet and contemporary dancers adhered to very rigid and routine training, but there had been little research undertaken into the possible injuries and long-term consequences, including fatigue.

She is seeking trained dancers, Grade 5 and above, to take part in the research to be conducted on Saturday, December 4 and Monday, December 6 at SCU’s exercise physiology laboratory, Lismore.

Prior to the research days, the Northern Rivers Conservatorium head of dance, Michael Hennessy, will train the dancers in a choreographed routine that will be performed during the testing. The dancers will need to attend a class on Thursday, December 2, at 4pm at the Lismore City Hall.

“Ideally we would want them to be in a performance year, highly trained and at least Grade 5 and above (or equivalent). In addition if there are dancers who are trained and have been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome we would like to invite them also,” Ms Coutts said.

Mr Hennessy, a former professional dancer with the Sydney Dance Company, said dancers often suffered serious injuries and had relatively short-lived careers.

“I feel there has been a real gap in how dancers are trained. Even at a professional level you are pretty much left to manage your own career, including rehearsing, performing and training. We are now looking at how an athlete trains and how that can benefit dancers,” Mr Hennessy said.

Ms Coutts said it was hoped this pilot project would eventually be extended to include professional dancers.

The research is part of an ongoing partnership between SCU and NORPA, involving innovative and diverse initiatives, and is being funded through an Australian Research Council linkage grant.

“The aim of this collaboration is to develop a long-term strategic research alliance between SCU and NORPA Creative Laboratory so that advanced research knowledge in applied sciences, creative arts and human services can be applied to problems in contemporary performing arts practice.”

Dancers interested in taking part in the study can contact Rosanne Coutts on 66203235 or Michael Hennessy on 0418 611623.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.