by Vrushabh Sikarwar (Elevatte Fitness)
Welcome back to the second edition of “Keeping Dancers Dancing”. Last week we spoke about an essential concept of adaptation. One that enables us to grow not just physically, but mentally as well. In this week’s column, we will be expanding on the demands of dance, since these demands place external stress that we would like to manage efficiently. We will also be establishing a baseline of our current physical capabilities. In order to pave a path, we first need to establish a starting point. This will require some internal investigation, maybe even testing on your part so please feel free to make a note of your current fitness levels.
Listing down the demands of any specific activity, sort of works like backward integration which provides us with a direction to work towards. We think of the physical abilities required for efficient execution in an ideal setting and then work backwards to create a plan to achieve those physical skills. I have been doing this for myself and my clients, and it works wonders in creating a broad picture which we can then narrow down into.
As a dancer, no matter what dance form you practice, either as a professional or as an enthusiast, across the board you will be required to have sufficient:
- Flexibility & Mobility
- Cardiovascular Endurance
- Strength & Force Transfer Capacities
- Balance & Stability
- Agility & Coordination
With the evolution of dance, increasing requirements for aesthetic representation and difference in dance styles, there will be variations in the demands listed above. I urge you to make a note of what you think are the demands for your dance style, in your current setting. This will provide you with clarity on what it will take to continue dancing, by working on increasing your physical capabilities.
Within these demands there will be some that you simply need to have regardless of which dance form you practice. When I see dancers, some of the skills that have always stood out are the physical ones. “Damn, that’s awesome awareness of their body”,”What flexibility man” are some common thoughts I’ve always had. This is to say that there will be certain physical parameters that you simply cannot do without. These skills form the base of your pyramid and no matter how good you get, some amount of maintenance work will still need to go into progressively maintaining and even improving upon them.
Once you have the demands / requirements in place, we then move onto a needs analysis and assessment. The checklist above will have certain boxes you already tick, while leaving some behind. These are the ones we will need to put emphasis on. You see what happens there? When you already have adequate physical skills, you can spend more time identifying your weaknesses and the gaps in your bag of physical capabilities. This in turn, can give you direction to plan and execute your own physical training. I always tell my clients that before we start moving towards where we want to reach, we have to understand where we currently are.
Physical assessments help us quantify information related to our fitness. You may think you have good balance and coordination but you may find out that you cannot hold a single leg balance stance for more than 15 seconds without fighting to find balance. In the same manner, strength might not be an issue for you until you test and assess a Single Leg Squat. These are examples to help you understand the point. The test should be designed around your physical level, demands of the sport and your goals, to ensure that we eliminate what is not applicable.
Hopefully I have helped you with valuable information that you can apply within your own settings and work with. Next week I will be introducing three key concepts that will help you decide what is best for you, in terms of fitness capabilities as a dancer and also provide you with a contextual sample workout template.