I wanted to know what everybody's thoughts are on this topic. I've been dancing for a many years now and through all the years I've learned a lot about the the harmony(or lack of thereof) you have to create between your body and dancing. I've really come to view dancing as a whole body approach. You have to have a deep understanding of how to take care of yourself, from stretching, strengthening, cross-training etc. Really dancing alone can't often get you to a high performance level. Yet I'm surprised to find that some dance schools don't address this. Some schools are all about dance dance dance but where's the stretching/strengthening to keep dancers injury free? I've come to this realization after years of shin splints, aches, pains, and injuries. This is a topic I've been struggling with for a long time.
What are your thoughts? Does your school teach "whole body" dancing?
My school is trying to. We focus a lot on stretching at the beginning of class. I myself did gymnastics for a while before starting Irish dance, so keeping the entire body toned and in-shape has helped me progress.
That's great so you really prepared yourself well for the rigor of irish dancing.
I've really only ever done irish dancing very seriously so I had no preparation. So I have always had to deal with a slew of injuries and pains as a result. I swear I'm way too prone to aches and pains.
We try to focus both on stretching and strengthening, but also on synchronizing breathing to dance, which is really helping the dancers.
Wow I've never really heard about synchronizing breathing. How exactly does that work?
The simplest way of looking at it is to focus on breathing OUT on everything that consists of jumps and breathing in only on steps that are more to the ground (like side steps or other such combinations). Whenever you jump while breathing IN you weigh considerably more and you're actually weighing your entire dancing down.
I absolutely agree with Silpa S. There's definitely not enough basic injury prevention and "general maintenance" knowledge in Irish dancing. Maybe fundamental anatomy and physiotherapy could be introduced to TCRG exams? And ballet :) After all, ballet has been around FOR CENTURIES and though it's different from Irish, I believe we could benefit from hundreds of years of professional training and countless researches. I can tell for myself, I understand the motor of movement much better, improving my Irish dancing skills, ever since I started doing ballet, and other dance genre. Peace...
Speaking of anatomy and physiotherapy and ballet, Michael, if you can get your hands on Eric Franklin's books, they are amazing tools of understanding ("Conditioning for Dance", "Dance Imagery for Technique and Performance" and "Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery" are full of all the details we need to better understand it all). I also agree that this kind of basic knowledge should be introduced to the TCRGs (be they old or new) and ballet techniques are also the best way of getting the proper balance between dance expression and the rigidity Irish Dance has in it.
I agree with you both that fundamental anatomy and physiotherapy should be part of TCRG examinations. After all what is your craft without a proper vehicle by which to convey it?