A study to investigate whether participation in a stretch programme improves performance in student dancers.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Since the fifteenth century dance has been defined by functional technique characterised, for example in ballet, by long aesthetic lines and high levels of flexibility. The purpose of this study was to determine whether progressive stretch programmes aid dancers in aesthetic technique and correct alignment during a pre-defined set of dynamic movements. This research was carried out to enhance knowledge of the links between dance, flexibility, alignment and technique. The study combined qualitative and quantitative research design. Analysis and observation of videos by an external unbiased adjudicator, self-evaluation questionnaires and quantitative data (angles of leg flexibility calculated through studio code V4.5.1) were the main means of data collection. Five female university student dancers performed a flexibility-specific dance motif, which was video recorded for analysis. All participants were classified as having received at least one year’s formal dance training with knowledge of the technique and style used within the research. The participants then took part in a five week intervention stretch programme, which included the five main leg muscles utilised within the motif (hamstrings, hip adductors, hip flexors, hip abductors and quadriceps). Pre and post-intervention videos and questionnaires were analysed and compared. The videos were analysed against the 'perfect' model by an expert external adjudicator in terms of improvements within flexibility, alignment and overall performance. The intervention stretch programme led to visual and self-evaluated improvements within flexibility and overall performance. Leg flexibility angles of the four key movements collected using studio code showed an increase in flexibility throughout the five participants. The high kick and splits movement showed the greatest improvements in flexibility angle (11.4 ± 1.2° and 7.2 ± 1.1°, respectively) whereas the side lunge and round-house kick showed a lesser amount of improvement (4 ± 1.6°). The self-evaluation questionnaires reflected these results correlating perceived enhancements in flexibility within the four movements. The self-evaluation score was inferior in terms of alignment; this correlated with the external adjudicator’s results which suggested that flexibility improved but not alignment. External adjudicator suggested that increased flexibility hindered correct alignment, misplacing the extra force used to utilise flexibility, forming incorrect alignment technique. Increase in muscular flexibility allows for greater ease of movement to assist in the performance of high flexibility movement aiding correct technical alignment. iii In conclusion, stretch programmes appear to help to enhance flexibility to gain the optimum ROM. Flexibility needs to be trained alongside the dancer’s core strength and technique to ensure maximal flexibility can be applied correctly to create an aesthetic dance performance. Limitations of the study were that external training could also be occurring during the stretch intervention programme; the dancers have a high, but varying range of, flexibility at baseline. Finally previous research data collected is unclear on specific stretching protocol required for optimum gains in flexibility.
DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF ARTS (HONOURS) Ba Hons DANCE
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