Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Special training for contemporary ballet

Midsummer and Carmina illustrate the differences between classical and contemporary ballet. Sometimes it’s as if they’re two entirely different art forms, requiring different artistic and athletic abilities.

Dancers must train very differently for both genres as to perform to the best of their abilities and to prevent injuries.

Hope Davis from Ohio State’s Sports Medicine's Program for Performing Arts Medicine is the head athletic trainer at BalletMet. She’s onsite everyday for injury checks, onsite treatments and formal physical therapy as well as launching injury prevention and educational programs.

Carmina Burana and Coming into View are very athletic, aerobic, and cardiovascular demanding,” Hope said. “The movement quality is also unusual and doesn’t follow typical ballet training, especially with lifting.”

Hope prepared dancers for these pieces by giving them special exercises to prevent injuries. The male dancers did lower back and core strengthening exercises, while the female dancers received neck and shoulder strengthening.

Men were given exercises such as transverse abdominus work outs to prevent injuries from lifting the women from their trunks and without their legs, which is uncharacteristic of typical ballet. Women were given arm and shoulder exercises should as scapula push-ups for postural stabilization to help them with their unique lifts where they take a lot of weight and pressure on their shoulders.

Company dancers were also given self-release techniques to help keep their muscles from getting too tight, especially those not used as much in traditional ballet. Hope also educated the dancers on the importance of hydration as well as muscle recovery and cross training.

What amazes me is the lengths that BalletMet’s dancers are willing to go to perform various dancing roles to the best of their abilities. Not only did BalletMet’s company dancers rehearse the pieces extensively and take a variety of dance technique classes, they also completed extra exercises on top of that. Way to go company dancers! And thank you Hope for educating and taking care of our dancers!


  1. Hope sounds like an amazing athletic trainer, but be careful when you use the term "physical therapy" as that must be provided by a licensed physical therapist.

  2. After working a year in a physical therapy office. I saw a couple of ballet dancers come in. They were some of the hardest working patients that I saw. During that year the practice grew very fast. We got emr software to help the practice grow and run more efficiently.