Kathak Dance Science Research at IADMS 26th Annual Conference

Upon embarking on the months of thesis writing on the MSc Dance Science programme I made a firm promise to my project supervisor that I would aim to present my work at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science conference 2016 in Hong Kong. seema-iadms
After graduating I submitted abstracts to the IADMS committee and after a long and nail-biting wait, it was announced in April 2016 that my abstracts had been accepted for, not just one, but two presentations! We were absolutely delighted and eager to disseminate my research based on the Indian classical dance form Kathak. Being the first research of its kind, we had to ensure that it would be informative and relevant to the conference, which aims to enhance the knowledge of its delegates, who are mainly dancers, teachers, researchers and medics.

The title of my research was ‘The effects of active and passive conditions on recovery after intense Kathak dance activity’, which in layman’s terms translates to, what happens to the dancer’s body after an intense dance performance/rehearsal without cool-down? The aim of sharing this research was to inform the delegates about the benefits of cool-down. (Look out for my article in forthcoming health posts for more information). The first presentation featured as part of the poster presentation series, where I reduced my thesis down to an informative A0 poster, conveying the key points and findings from the research. The second was a movement session, an opportunity to demonstrate Kathak dance in both its slow and intense forms. The session’s aim was to discuss Kathak’s physiological, biomechanical and physical components and to allow the delegates to experience Kathak. Finally it would allow them to experience cool-down, in a structured form, appropriate for the level of activity that they had just undertaken.

The experience was daunting at first as I opened my research to a new audience, however, I felt that the master’s programme in Dance Science had prepared me for this and I was able to present in a professional manner. The captive and inquisitive audience made me feel at ease within the environment that I had trained to be in.

Presenting at IADMS gave me added confidence in my work, allowing me to talk in depth about the subject and to accept suggestions for improvement. It provided me with the opportunity to meet other researchers who had a common interest in the subject of recovery, and exposed potential crossovers with current research.

IADMS always provides me with a powerful insight into ballet and contemporary dance, which deepens my knowledge as a Dance Scientist and adds an invaluable medical perspective. Now I have been able to contribute research to IADMS on an alternative dance genre, Kathak, that had not yet been investigated. This widens the pool of Dance Science research and offers knowledge to Kathak performers and teachers alike.

A very positive outcome of the conference was connecting with other Indian classical dance researchers, Physiotherapists, Dance Scientists and Practitioners. I am now working on setting up an international organisation to disseminate our research on a shared platform.

With the support of my research supervisor Sarah Needham-Beck and Jatin Ambegaeonkar, an Athletic Trainer and professor at George Mason University in Virginia, USA,  I will be submitting my work to various journals to be published.

Exciting times ahead.

Seema De Jorge-Chopra

Dance Science Graduate Intern



Resistance bands – benefits and uses


Resistance bands improve balance, strengthen isolated muscle groups, reduce the risk of injury, increase range of motion and help with the rehabilitation of injury.

What are the benefits of a resistance band?

  • Adaptable for multiple fitness levels
  • Can be used for whole body exercises
  • Lightweight and easily portable
  • Adds variety to workouts
  • Strengthens different muscle groups
  • Versatile and can be combined with other equipment

When can a resistance band be used?

  • During a warm up
  • For tight muscles and cramping; before, during or after physical activity
  • For use in conjunction with rehabilitation and to compliment physiotherapy treatment

Areas resistance bands can be used:

  • Lower limbs such as thighs, knees, ankles, feet
  • Upper limbs such as shoulders, arms, wrists, elbows

 Why do our physiotherapists recommend resistance bands?

“Resistance bands are great for stretching and strengthens different muscle groups. Resistance bands can be used for exercises for the feet, elbows, shoulders, knees and the middle back to help stabilise the joints.”

Resistance levels and colours at Trinity Laban Health:

Yellow – Very light resistance that provides little tension. Ideal for rehabilitation purposes and exercising small, stabilising muscles such as the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder joints.

Pink – Light to medium resistance that is appropriate for beginner and advanced exercisers or for those who would like to increase muscular endurance.

Purple – Medium resistance that is appropriate for beginner and advanced exercisers who want to work large muscles such as the hamstrings, quadriceps and chest muscles.

Green – Heavy resistance, ideal for, very, advanced exercisers who want high levels of resistance.

If you are unsure about the colour/resistance level for you always talk to your physiotherapist. In the next instalment we will be looking at the benefits of the foam roller.

Warm up and cool down for dancers



Why should you warm up and cool down?

It is important for dancers to warm up before any dance activity in order to prepare the body for longer and global movements and help to decrease tension in the muscles and joints. Through this preparation you can ensure you are able to move without stress and strain during activity. A safe warm up gradually increases the body temperature to a optimal working level and helps to avoid injuries.

The cool down is just as important after dancing as this can help to reduce muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process after the activity.

An effective warm up should:

  • Prepare dancers both mentally and physically
  • Improve performance and reduce prevalence of injuries
  • Increase coordination and proprioception
  • Increase heart rate and blood circulation gradually
  • Increase body temperature
  • Permits freer movement of the joints
  • Improves the effective muscles actions
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Improves the transmission of nerve impulses
  • Should mobilise all the joints that are to be used during the dance class/performance.

You should never feel tired after the warm up, it should always contain simple or low impact movements with no fast changes of direction. The movements should be controlled, continuous with the correct alignment to reduce the risk of injury. A warm up should include exercises for ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, elbows and wrists with 6-8 repetitions of each exercise. By the end of the warm up you should feel warm, relaxed and ready to start dancing Professional Performers should conduct a warm which lasts for a minimum of 30-40 minutes each time.

The cool down is just as important as the warm up

  • If the activity stops suddenly the blood will pool within the muscles rather than return the blood to the brain, this will cause dizziness.
  • Dancing increases adrenaline and endorphins (hormones) in circulations which can lead to restlessness and sleep.
  • Increase in waste products such as Lactic Acid can cause stiffness and soreness as well as cramps and muscle spasms.

By gradually slowing your movements the breathing rate will decrease and reverse the warm up process. Extra soreness may occur due to the intensity of the exercise or unfamiliar movements performed. Stretching should also be part of the cool down process. If you are still sore the following day, doing some light/ gentle exercise and stretching may help.

Tips for dancers:

  • Make sure you move into the stretch slowly, hold it still, and move out of the stretch slowly.
  • Breathe normally and emphasise the stretch when exhaling.