Picture this: It's the end of class. You're exhausted and ready for reverence when your teacher decides it's time for a drill of 32 changements. If you feel like you might not be jumping at your best, take extra caution. According to a study led by Danielle Jarvis, an athletic trainer and associate professor of kinesiology at California State University Northridge, when dancers are tired, they may lack the muscle control to land jumps correctly, putting them at risk for injury.


The Study

To see how fatigue affects dancers' performance, Jarvis had 17 dancers perform 12 sautés in second position. She tracked how they executed the jumps, using a motion camera system and plates that measured how forcefully they landed. After having the group dance energetically until they felt fatigued, they repeated the sautés, and she studied how their jumps had changed.

Black and white version of back view of ballet dancer ballerina at the barre in dance class standing in first position

Getty Images

The Findings

Jarvis found that, when fatigued, dancers tend to collapse into a deeper plié at the end of a jump. She saw an increased degree of dorsiflexion—the way your ankle bends upwards—upon landing. "They're also tending to roll in towards the arch of the foot," says Jarvis, "which we know is associated with forced turnout and increasing the risk of injury." These habits put dancers particularly at risk for tendon overuse injuries, especially in the Achilles or the FHL tendon, which stretches from underneath the ball of the foot up the back of the calf. There's also a risk for foot or knee injuries.

How to Help Your Jumps

Eccentric strengthening exercises, which focus on controlled motions, like a careful, precise plié at the end of a jump, may help dancers maintain their technique while jumping, even when fatigued. "That controlled lowering is really where I think the strength is lacking," says Jarvis, who recommends the following exercise:

Stand on both feet, either turned out or in parallel. Relevé, and lower slowly for 5 counts. Then, try it one foot at a time. Work up to completing 3 sets of 10 on each leg

Ballet Careers
American Contemporary Ballet in rehearsal. Anastasia Petukhova, Courtesy ACB.

Lincoln Jones felt there was a pertinence missing from ballet when he decided to form American Contemporary Ballet. "People looking at a film today can pick apart screenwriting versus art direction and editing," says Jones. "They are really conversant with it. I thought ballet is never going to feel super-relevant until people can do that."

So how to do that? Connect the audience to the show.

Keep reading... Show less
Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Pratt + Kreidich Photography, Courtesy Dancers & Dogs

The holiday season is coming our way, and with it good cheer, a giving spirit and, of course, The Nutcracker. Our favorite photography duo, Dancers & Dogs, has found a way to garner that energy for a good cause: pet adoption.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Rock School
From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

For more than five decades, The Rock School for Dance Education has been launching young dancers into professional ballet careers around the globe. Boasting distinguished alumni such as Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince and Taylor Stanley, the Philadelphia-based institution has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pairing rigorous training with a tight-knit, welcoming community. Their summer intensives are no different, with a wealth of prestigious faculty members, many of whom are Rock School alums currently dancing at companies around the world.

What inspires busy pros to keep returning to their alma mater? We talked to three of The Rock School's buzziest alums about why they make it a priority to come back and teach:

Keep reading... Show less