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Chapter review: Dance Science in The Bloomsbury Companion to Dance Studies

It is a testament to the work of many researchers, teachers, practitioners over the last thirty years that dance science can now be found as an integral part of a dance companion, alongside dance pedagogy, dance and politics, dance ethnography, dance history and screendance.

Professor Emma Redding provides the narrative for the development of dance science and its place in

dance training and public health. Encompassing the roots of dance science in the 1990’s with the first Dance UK (now One Dance UK) Healthier Dancer Conference, two national inquiries into dancers’ injuries (Brinson & Dick, 1996; Laws, 2005), and the seminal texts of Professor Yiannis Koutedakis, NC Craig Sharp, Dr Justin Howse, Shirley Hancock, Eivind Thomasen and Rachel-Anne Rist; Prof Redding charts the exponential growth of dance science over the past 30 years and the exciting potential for the future of the field.

Placed in the context of Prof Redding’s role as Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, the chapter explores some of the many facets of dance science, including cardiorespiratory fitness, mental imagery through somatic practices and the application of science as an evaluation tool in dance for health settings. Giving examples of the work of Trinity Laban, Prof Redding provides an overview of the multifaceted applications of dance science, both to enhance the performance of elite dancers and reduce risk of injury, but also the benefits of dance for the general population.

That dance science resides as a chapter in a dance companion, demonstrates the increasing focus given to this growing area of work, and the significant impact it can have on the longevity of a dancers’ career, as well as supporting dancers to explore the evermore demanding choreography and risk taking in movement.

In the words of Craig Sharp, as quoted by Prof Redding “Dancers are, in fact, among the supreme all-round athletes in our society, and as such are well worth a look at physiologically.”

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