Theory of Dance Notes some readings and lectures.docx

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Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
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David Roberts

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Theory of Dance Notes: Pp 133-147 in Clippinger Text Strength Exercises for the Spine -exercises must match each dancer’s current level of strength and skill, use a variety -start with pure spinal flexion and spinal extension exercises, then add rotation and lateral flexion as the dancer progresses -ab exercises should be performed with greater frequency/more sets than extensor exercises because back extensors make greater improvements in strength than other muscles with just one workout per week -more back exercises may be beneficial as the dancer ages, thus more back extension necessary to counter kyphosis and decrease in spinal extensor size -consider static and dynamic alignment of the individual – hyperlordosis dancers benefit from greater abdominal work while dancers with fatigue/flatback postume need back extension exercises Spinal Flexor (Abdominal) Strengthening -important for preventing lumbar lordosis, generating IAP, stabilizing spine, preventing back injury -important to achieve desired aesthetic in many dance movements -important to emphasize pulling the abdominal wall in and up toward the spine to challenge transverse abdominis Spinal Extensor Strengthening -important for stabilizing the spine, bending torso forward and back when upright, and arching the back -important to prevent undesired forward movement of torso in movements such as arabesque, split jumps, or lifting dancer overhead -thoracic extensors important to prevent kyphosis and prevent upper back from falling forward -to target upper back extensors, pelvis must be actively “pulled up”, not allowed to tilt forward, thus lumbar spine not excessively hyperextended Spinal Lateral Flexor Strengthening -strong spinal lateral flexors important for floor movements involving rising from lying on the side, side-bending (common in modern and jazz dance) -dancers often allow lumbar spine to excessively arch when bending to the side as a result of inadequate co-contraction of abdominals Spinal Rotator Strengthening -strong spinal rotators necessary for stabilization and movement of the spine -many injuries to the back involve rotation, so particularly important to strengthen and use proper mechanics -subtle use during lifting of one arm or one leg (e.g., arabesque) -greater use involved in torso twisting relative to pelvis (e.g., jazz isolations, many movement phrases in modern and jazz dance) -most spinal flexors and extensors capable of producing rotation -important to keep spine flexed as torso rotates and NOT let one shoulder drop and low back flatten or arch -lifting one leg to any spinal extension exercise will produce slight spinal rotation -amount of spinal extension present when rotation added will influence region of spine involved in rotation, as well as which muscles/regions of muscles are involved, thus varied positions should be engaged in (co-contract abs to prevent hyperextension of lumbar spine) Stretches for the Spine -elite female ballet dancers found to have an average of 79 degrees of spinal hyperextension (20-30 degrees in normal population), male dancer average of 65 degrees -often combines with strenches for the hip performed standing, sitting, or at the barre -many structures other than muscles constrain movement of the spine, including ligaments, discs and bony processes, thus take care that body is warmed and stretch is slow with minimal force, proper positioning of the body -note the extreme individual variation in spinal motions, work carefully to increase or maintain range of one’s particular structure rather than forcibly trying to match someone else’s -strengthening exercises that work to dynamically maintain range while building strength to support increased mobility recommended over stretching outside of class if have extreme range of motion already Spinal Extensor (Spinal Flexion) Stretches -need adequate flexibility of spinal extensors to allow full forward ben of spine, posterior tilt of pelvis, lifting leg very high to the front, prevention of lumbar hyperlordosis -stretching can help relieve soreness and tightness of spinal extensors (often because fatigued and tight with dance because they are postural muscles) -double knee to chest offers a position in which pressure within intervertebral discs is low (commonly recommended for low back pain) -maintaining upper back in extension and pulling abs back toward spine and keeping vertical pelvis isolates lumbar area in the stretch Spinal Flexor (Spinal Hyperextension) Stretches -require adequate flexibility of spinal flexors (abdominals) to allow for full arching of the back -important for a healthy back, particularly in males -extreme range (hypermobility) and low value (hypomobility) increase risk for low back trouble -these stretches should only be done if no history of lumbar lordosis or low back pain, start slowly, always stay in pain- free range -can also improve range in spine hyperextension by performing exercises with hips on an exercise ball, or back arched over the ball Spinal Lateral Flexor Stretches -adequate flexibility of lateral flexors important to allow spine to bend fully on the side -side bend with one leg on barre – keep pelvis level and stationary, arch spine “up and away”, lift ribs “up and over” Spinal Rotator Stretches -adequate flexibility of spinal rotators needed to twist torso relative to pelvis and vice versa -dancers often asymmetric with this motion, stretch to side to improve symmetry -if scoliosis is the cause of this asymmetry, stretch under direction of physical therapist Week 2: Page 213-220 Table 4.5 - “Selected Strength Exercises for the Hip” *Supplemental hip strengthening is particularly important for the dancer because dance requires strength to hold limbs in high ranges of motion that are not utilized in activities of daily living. The ideal program should be balanced and designed to include exercises for each of the key muscle groups of the hip: the hip flexors, extensors, abductors, adductors, external rotators and the internal rotators. **I summarized all of the exercises for you. If you have a textbook I suggest you flip through and look at the pictures. I don’t think we need to know the actual exercise, but instead understand the muscles used in certain actions. For example, what muscles are used to flex the hip and externally rotate the leg. Exercise Name Muscle Muscles Joint Movement Description (technique Progression Group Emphasized cues) Knee to chest Hip flexors Illipsoas Hip flexion with Lean back on elbows *Perform sitting with elastic band knee flexion with both knees bent. with a slight tuck maintained Bring one knee toward and resting back the same shoulder, on hands pause and return to *Perform sitting starting position as with vertical torso other knee stays in and pelvis more place. neutral Sitting 2 arc front Hip flexors Illipsoas and Hip flexion with Sit leaning back on *Increase height of leg raise and knee quads knee extension hands with one knee raised leg extensors bent with the foot on the *Bring torso to ground. Raise the other more vertical leg as high as you can position and while keeping the leg lumbar spine more straight. Bend the knee neutral slightly, raise a little *Add ankle higher. Extend knee at weights highest point, pause, *Perform standing slowly lower. Front developpe Hip flexors Illiopsoas Hip flexion with Lean back on elbows, *sit with weight (with reformer) knee extension with one knee bent. back on hands Raise leg and bring it to *Bring torso to chest. vertical position with the pelvis more neutral Back Leg Raise Hip Extensors Hamstrings Hip extension with Lean forward and bring *extend knee at (ankle weight) knee flexion one leg back and raise it top of movement maintained until it is parallel with *perform standing the floor without support Kneeling Hip extensors Hamstrings Hip extension with Knee on reformer. Place *Increase springs Arabesque (with knee extension strap on foot and raise *increase height reformer) leg up. leg is raised Bridging (body Hip extensors Hamstrings and Hip extension with Lie on back with feet on *Add 4 count in weight on ball) abdominal/ham knee flexion ball with legs extended. bent knee position string force Roll the ball in until *Lift one leg off couple knees are at 90 degrees. during hold Raise one leg up. Side Leg Raise Hip abductors Gluteus medius, Hip abduction with Lie on side and raise top *Raise leg higher and hip iliopsoas, and external rotation leg up. *increase turnout external DOR *increase ankle rotators weight Standing Leg Hip abductors Glute Hip abduction Stand on both legs, raise *increase ankle Raise medius/stabiliz one leg to the side weight ation *increase height Side Developpe Hip abductors, Ilipsoas and Hip abduction and Lie on side, bring one *increase springs (reformer) hip flexors, DOR external rotation knee towards shoulder *shorten straps and hip with knee extension then straighten leg. *increase height external leg is raised rotators Single Leg Pull Hip adductors Hip Hip adduction Lie on side with both *increase weight adductors/stabi legs extended with top *use taller chair lization leg on seat of a chair. Raise lower leg up towards top leg and lower back down. Side Leg Pull Hip adductors Adductor Hip adduction with Lie on side with strap on *increase springs and hip magnus and external rotation foot above head. Pull top *shorten straps external DOR/ROM leg to bottom leg. *increase height rotators leg is raised Wall “V” Hip adductors Hip adductors Hip horizontal Lie on back with butt *increase ankle and lower adduction with against wall, with legs weights DOR/ROM external rotation turned out let legs falls *bring legs further to side towards floor. to side Prone Frog (body Hip external DOR Hip external Lie prone on hips on a *Raise knees weight on ball) rotators rotation with ball and feet together higher horizontal with knees bent out to abduction sides. Press feet together, externally rotate hips and lift feet towards ceiling. Hip Rotation on Hip external DOR Hip external Lean back on elbows *Bring legs further elbows rotators and rotation with with knees extended to side hip abduction abduction and band looped above knees. Bring both legs to the side while externally rotating legs. Week 2: Page 186 – Dance Cues 4.2 “Use the Back of Your Legs” -This cue is used to encourage greater use of the hamstring muscles when the feet are weight bearing, particularly when the teacher feels the student isoverusing the front of the legs (quads) -This cue could be interpreted several ways *could be interpreted as encouraging greater use of abdominal-hamstring force couple. Using this force couple allows the dancer to maintain a neutral pelvis and position the weight of the body over the supporting foot/feet (not too far back/front) à this allows them to use less quad contraction to maintain balance *could also be interpreted as encouraging greater use of hip extensors vs knee extensors -The problem with this cue is that some dancers do not know how to use “more of the back of the leg” { using a more specific cue or performing the exercise to help these dancers find these muscles is better (example when Rhonda showed us how to lift/kick our legs – we used those rubber bands around our knees) -Example: pulling the bottom of the pelvis down to the floor until the pelvis is vertically aligned. This can help some dancers recruit the hamstrings in their force-couple role with the ab muscles -Example: on the up-phase of the plie - focusing on pressing into the floor with the feet and pulling the sitz bones down and forward to extend the hip joint, before thinking about straightening the knees à can help dancers feel greater use of the hip extensors *Once a dancer knows how to achieve greater hip extensor activation, the initial cue use the “back of your leg” or “more hamstrings” can be an effective reminder Week 5 Readings: 492-499 Leap (Grand Jete en Avant) - Leap is a locomotor movement that involves taking off from leg and landing on the opposite leg - Preparation  Involves hip flexion, knee flexion, and ankle dorsiflexion of the TAKE OFF leg  Eccentric contraction of opposite muscles, hip extensors, knee extensors, ankle plantar flexors are necessary to control movements  Bring center of gravity of the body over the foot of opposite leg - Takeoff  Take off leg (right leg) undergoes rapid hip extension, knee extension, ankle plantar flexion via concentric contraction  As right leg extends, the left leg swings forward, utilizing concentric contraction of the hip flexors to bring thigh forward, isometric contraction of the knee extensors to maintain the knee in extension and concentric contraction of the ankle foot plantar flexors to help point foot  Right arm swings forward, leftarm raises to the side  Right leg, left leg, right arm propel center of gravity of the body up and forward for the flight phase  This phase ends before the takeoff foot loses contact with ground - Flight Phase  Take off leg is rapidly brought backward and upwards, ideally to height of lead leg via concentric contraction of hip extensors  Knee of back leg is maintained in extension by utilizing contraction of knee extensors, while concentric contraction of right ankle-foot plantar flexors serves to increase ‘point’ of foot  Center of mass of body follows a parabolic path; shape of trajectory is determined by angle or projection, speed and height of body at takeoff  One of the key determinants of achieving the desired height is maximizing the velocity of body at takeoff - Landing Phase  Primary function of muscles is to control and arrest the downward motion of the body caused by gravity, with eccentric contraction of hip extensors, knee extensors and ankle plantar flexors to control the respective hip, knee and ankle flexion produced by gravity on the landing leg  This phase is important for properly positioning body for the next movement in the choreography  The right leg (take off leg) may stay in arabesque position when landing, as the knee extensors work isometrically to maintain the knee in extension while the ankle-foot plantar flexors work isometrically to help maintain the point of the foot - Stabilization  Co-contraction of spinal extensors and flexors is key to achieve desired aesethic of the movement  Desire to keep torso relatively vertical during the flight phase of the movement  One reason the torso often flexes forward is that the pelvis must be tilted anteriorly to allow the back leg to reach the desired height - Extreme range of motion isrequired at hips to achieve split position in the air - High strength demands for hip extensors, knee extensors and ankle plantar flexors of the takeoff leg to overcome the weight of the body and project the body in space during the takeoff phase - Technique considerations:  One common error in the beginning dancers is to not achieve the desired position of the back leg in the flight phase  This can relate to hip flexor tightness of back leg, hamstring tightness of front leg, limited range in spinal hyperextension, inadequate hip extensor strength of back leg, inadequate spinal extensor strength, or inappropriate timing and activation of key muscles  Flexion of the support leg during the preparation phase to provide a prestretch of the extensors that will markedly enhance the ability of that in the take off phase  Timing and magnitude of flexion of support leg during landing phase are also important  Issue is primarily one of absorption of forces vs generation of forces; essential for injury prevention AND achieving dance aesthetic criteria  Increasing time used to decelerate body when landing from a jump will decrease magnitude of peak force borne by the body  Eccentric contraction of extensors of hip, knee and ankle allow greater flexion at their joints and absorb more forces  Quadriceps femoris are important in attenuating impact forces as jump distance and vertical ground reaction forces increased  Another mech that can be used to soften landing is the well-timed use of the ankle-foot plantar flexors  Calf-complex plays a critical role in absorbing impact associated with landing from jumps  Encouraging a toe-heel vs. flat-foot landing are often used to encourage this use of mechanism  Placement of the knee relative to the foot when landing form jumps  Stability must be present on one leg to allow for development and absorbption of large forces without injury  Promote good alignment and avoid excessive rotation or medial-lateral movements can be helpful - Special Considerations  Aesthetic criteria play a key role and may dictate a leap that emphasizes height, distance (etc)  When providing cues, keep specificity of goals in mind Chapter Thee- The Spine/Plumb Line: Ideal Standing Postural Alignment:  Ideal posture encompasses a balance of these sagittal curves and a positioning of joints so that the body’s line of gravity is located in the median plane and runs in front of the thoracic vertebrae and just anterior to or through S2 (figure 3.23a in text)  This gravity line would ideally pass through or close to the centers of key weight bearing joints so that the undue joint stress is avoided and minimal muscular contraction is required to maintain the desired position  Positioning of the line of gravity allows much of the necessary support of the spine to be provided by intervertebral disc pressures and constrains offered by ligaments, fascia, and capsules of the facet joints  Slight additional active supportis often provided by low levels of activity of the spinal extensors (particularly the thoracic extensors and deep posterior spinal group) and the abdominals (particularly the internal oblique)  As the gravity line continues downward, it runs slightly posterior to the axis of the hip joint with the resulting tendency for hip extension (extensor moment) limited by the iliofemoral ligaments and in some cases, slightly activity of the iliopsoas muscle; just anterior to the axis of the knee to extend (extensor moment) limited by passive constrains (posterior to the knee capsule and knee ligaments); and just anterior to the ankle axis, generally requiring a low levels of activity in the calf muscles (particularly the soleus) to prevent the body from falling forward  To conceptualize the ideal postural alignment, the vertical gravity line is reflected by a plumb line and surface landmarks on the body are used to reflect where this gravity line would actually run inside the body  A plumb line is a cord with a weighted (plumb bob) attached to its distal end so that when hung it will provide an absolute vertical line as a reference for measuring deviations  Any landmarks that do not fall upon the plumb line would reflect deviations from the ideal alignment; assuming that the shoulders are not “rolled”, having all of these landmarks aligned along the plumb line generally indicates a very basic correct balance of the sagittal spinal curves  With ideal alignment, the pelvis is vertical (ASIS in a vertical plane with the pubic symphsis) rather than tilted forward or backward  The positioning of the pelvis will directly affect the spinal alignment, as an anterior pelvic tilt tens to increase the lumbar curve while a posterior pelvis tilt tends to decrease the lumbar curve  The position of the spine therefore effect the alignment of the lower extremities; ex. Hyperextended knees  When looking at a dancer frombehind, the gravity line should be:  Gravity line should bisect the distance between the heels and  Ideally be in line with the spinous processes of the vertebrae  When looking at a dancer fromthe front, the gravity line should be:  Bisect the distance between the feet and  Ideally be in line with midline structures such as the pubis symphsis, umbilicus and nose  These views allow to see if there is asymmetry between the right and left side s of the body (such as scoliosis) Lumbar Hyperlordosis:  Lumbar lordosis is a term to describe large lumbar curvature (ex bending backwards)  Lumbar hyperlordosis is a more accurate term and describes an increasing inclination of the sacrum, anterior pelvic tilt and sometimes forward displacement if the torso relative to the ideal postural plumb line  Lumbar hyperlordosis is not only aesthetically undesirable but also may increase the risk for lower back injury  It increases the tendency for the lower vertebrae to slide forward on the underlying vertebrae (shear force)  This increased shear produces extra stress on many spinal structures (stress fractures)  Fixed hyperlordorsis is associated with greater contraction of the erector spinae, which may allow low back muscle fatigue and strain to occur more readily  This is preventable in young dancers; as they are forcing turnout  It may decrease with years of training, but not always and it harder to fix when older  To prevent:  Strengthen abdominal muscles (determining distance between ribs and pelvis; therefore affecting the curvature of the lower spine and hence ideal alignment)  Stretch of hip flexor and lowerback ( as low back and hip flexor tightness; commonly from growth spurts in adolescence)  One should also test for the hip flexor range of motion (just to be safe J)  Many dancers with hyperlordorsis appear to exhibit excess back extensor activation, and successful change in this posture for standing and dynamic movement often involves greater co-activation of the abdominal muscles and upper back muscles extensors for correct positioning and spinal stabilization  In an effort to achieve this, dancers “pull up” the pubic bone, so that it is in line with the ASIS, achieving neutral alignment  Some dancers who have lumbar hyperlordorsis or excessively extend the spine higher up tend to displace the lower ribs forwards  These dancers need to focus on bringing the ribs back down/back  Cueing to knit the front of the pelvis and rib cage closer together while still maintaining a lift along the central plumb line or lift the upper back can be sometimes effective Kyphosis:  Kyphosis is characterized by an abnormal increase in the thoracic curvature (humpback)  This excessive curvature can be rigid in nature as a consequence of various diseases or structural abnormalities, while in other cases it is more flexible and functional in nature  The functional version is seen more in sedentary individuals, who sit in slumped posture  Examples of this are high school kids that carry heavy backpacks, or athletes with a strength or flexibility imbalance  Dancers also sometimes exhibit mild kyphosis that is associated with weak upper back extensors or inadequate thoracic extensor activation and the tendency to let the upper back to collapse and rest on passive constraints (fatigue posture)  This also occurs in dancers that do abdominal work in a small range of motion but don’t stretching after or balancing with back exercises  In terms of correction, in normal standing and sitting the gravity line falls in front of the thoracic curve, tending to produce flexion of the thoracic spine  This tendency must be countered by consistent low level activity in the thoracic extensors, such as the longissium and multifudus muscles of this region  Hence, strengthening the upper back extensors and using cues such as “lift the back towards the celling”  This is challenging for the thoracic region as there is a less range of extension, as compared to lumbar  Therefore a dancer must stabilize the lower and upper back together  If kyphosis is painful or pronounced it is important to seek medical attention as it might be Scheuermann’s disease or other medical conditions  This disease classically develops around puberty and actually involves a wedging of one or more thoracic vertebrae related to abnormal behavior of the epeiseayl plate  There is also possible pronounced kyphosis (dowager’s hump) seen with aging that involves erosion and collapse of the anterior portion of one or more thoracic vertebrae due to osteoporosis Fatigue Posture:  Fatigue posture involves a forward displacement of the pelvis relative to the ankle and the plumb line and backward displacement of the torso relative to the pelvis and plumb line (ex. Jenna in class J)  Fatigue posture classically involves hip joint extension or hyper extension rather than flexion and generally a posterior rather than anterior tilt of the pelvis  The sustained use of ligaments for support can be detrimental, while the associated posterior shift of the weight of the trunk alters the force transmission in the low back area such that the sacrolilac pain may occur  The posterior position of the torso also distorts the normal transfer of weigh of the arms and head to the spine and can be associated with upper back and neck fatigue or pain, and a compensatory forward position of the head.  The fatigue posture occurs very frequently in mature individuals and highly trained dancers  This may be due to high flexibility in hip flexors and other soft tissue (to allow for hip hyperextension to achieve looks or desired movements)  This will happen unless the iliopsoas actively used to prevent this, and/or center of mass of the torso is slightly forward  Fatigue posture can often be improved by strengthen the upper back extensors, and stretching abdominals and use muscles actively, so posture isn’t “hanging” on the ligaments  Cueing to “lift the upper back up and forward” as there is a string attaché to the spine and cueing the iliopsoas to “bring the front of the pelvis forward towards the thigh” Cervical Lordosis and Forward Head:  Forward head is an increased curve in the upper back (often associated with kyphosis) can bring the head forward and eye level down  This forward position moves the center of gravity of the head in front of the line of gravity of the body  The head puts torque on the cervical spine, this places excessive demands upon the spinal extensors and facet joints  Over time this position tends to create a shortening of the cervical extensors  To prevent this, use neck presses, in which the chin is brought down and the head is gently pressed back against the hand for a couple seconds  From there the neck extensors can also be stretched using the hand to gently lengthen the neck by bringing the head “out and forward” on a slight diagonal  If kyphosis is involved a dancer should stretch the neck as if the “ears are being pulled; suspending you in the air”  But one can’t over stretch, this can cause lordosis of the neck’s natural curve in the cervical spine- so work with a medical professional Flat Back:  Flat back posture involves a decreases lumbar curve such that the low back looks flat  The flat back posture reduces the normal shock absorbency of the spine and is hypothesized to contribute to disc degeneration  Having decreases curvatures of the spine is thought to increase the risk of low back injury  This is seen in dancers who have worked to decreases their excessive lumbar lordosis that they have overcorrected and taken out the desired curve of their lumbar spine  Cueing the alignment is focused on “lengthening the spine” can sometimes affect the curvatures (cervical, lumbar and thoracic)  Correcting flat back is controversial; but there are two possible ways:  Strengthening lower back and hip flexors  Repetitively standing in passive posture (where the pelvis is tucked therefore decreasing the lumbar curve) however this is fatigue posture…  In the second case, successful correction will require the use of lumbar supports and re-education of static and dynamic alignment focusing on restoring a neutral pelvis and associated normal lu
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