Historical Project: Recreating Hofesh Shecther’s Sun

Hofesh Shechter is recognised as one of the most exciting artists working today, renowned for composing atmospheric musical scores to compliment the unique physicality of his movement. He is Artistic Director of the UK based Hofesh Shechter Company, formed in 2008. The company are resident at Brighton Dome and Shechter is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells Theatre. His works for his company include Uprising, In your rooms, The Art of Not Looking Back, Survivor (in collaboration with Antony Gormley at the Barbican), Sun, Political Mother, and Barbarians.

Sun premiered in Melbourne in 2013 and Hofesh Shechter Company has toured the work internationally for over three years. The extract performed for the Historical Project is a stripped down version that takes its inspiration from various sections of the original work, in which the performers portray perhaps the last remnants of a lost and crumbling society.

Winifred Burnet Smith, Sam Coren and Philip Hulford are the Rehearsal Assistants staging the work, who said:

“We are so thrilled to be restaging and reinvigorating an extract of Sun with the Trinity Laban undergrads – dance legends one and all. All the students have worked so hard, and have been a joy to teach. We cannot thank them enough for their perseverance and positive attitude to learning Hofesh Shechter’s unique style.”

Second year student Sara Maurizi is one of the dancers performing in the work, she said:

“The process of learning Sun by Hofesh Shechter is challenging and inspiring me both as a human and as a dancer. The qualities of movement, the different intentions and the characters are intriguing in the piece and it has a percussive rhythm. I have to let my whole self be driven by the piece and dance without judgement and fear. I am very glad I had the chance to be part of this project.”

Emma Lane is another dancer in the work, she added:

“The experience is both physically and mentally challenging as I am being taught new ways to move my body and new ways to connect with emotions authentically. Finding a way to move my body in totality and having to constantly shift the dynamics of my movement has allowed me to reach new extremities that I will take with me for the rest of my training and career.”

For more information and to book tickets visit our Events page.

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Image: Sun by Gabriele Zucca

Post-Exercise Muscular Soreness

Feeling like you’ve gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson for a day or two after you’ve done a serious workout?

We all know the feeling- stairs? Not a chance.

But why do our muscles hurt so much when we’ve been working so hard?

Post-Exercise Soreness explained.

The DOMS

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: refers to the potential reaction our bodies have when we take up a new exercise plan, adapt an existing exercise plan or alter the intensity or duration of regular physical exertion. This may happen regardless of our fitness levels and although often unwelcomed, it can be the sign of a Physiologically Positive Reaction.

DOMS usually develops between 12-24 hours after the activity itself. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘that’ll hurt tomorrow’ but the truth is the greatest discomfort is often experienced between 24-72 hours post-exercise. Although DOMS can be associated with a positive reaction, is often a sign that you need to take a rest, this is useful feedback from your body.  If you are experiencing symptoms associated with DOMS, to include muscles soreness ‘tender to touch’ and reduced joint mobility, this may lead to instability if not well rested. Instability and weakness combined with muscle soreness and fatigue can lead to injury.

What’s happening?

There is some controversy surrounding the cause of DOMS, however most believe that DOMS is the repair process that develops as a response to the microscopic damage of our muscle fibres likely stemming from novel stresses that were experienced during the exercise.

A common misconception is that DOMS is due to lactic acid build up however it is generally believed that lactic acid is not involved in the DOMS process.

Activities which are thought to result in DOMS are ones which cause muscles to lengthen whilst a force is being applied, also known as an eccentric muscle action. There are three main actions; Concentric, Isometric and Eccentric- The notion of a concentric chest press evokes a much more stressful loading onto the muscles than let’s say a handstand where an Isometric action is seen. However eccentric movements such as the lowering phase in a bicep curl are considered structurally, to cause a higher stress level on muscle fibres than the aforementioned. Try and work your way gradually into a new exercise program to help reduce the severity of DOMS!

 There is a fine line between positive, and injury provoking muscular ‘pain’.

Every body is different and you must remember to listen to yours.

As performing artists we should not be working towards ‘pain’. We should only push our bodies to a certain level, and DOMS is a welcomed indication that we have pushed our bodies a little beyond their normal comfort zone. If you do experience pain during an exercise this could be an underlying factor of over intensified exercise or incorrect form, you should consult a medical practitioner if pain persists and exceeds regular DOMS symptoms.

It is important to remember eccentric movements are to be treated as one ingredient within a well-tailored exercise plan, combining concentric and isometric movement will make for a well-rounded workout. Mastering technique, control and stability within movements will lower the risk of injury and in turn DOMS.

Does Massage Help?

Massage is an extensive physiological tool that eases muscle and joint stiffness. The hands on approach of massage works towards reducing tension within the body, combined with passive movements that not only stretch the connective tissues around our joints, but lengthens muscles and tendons too.  Sports Massage may help prevent the onset of injury, work as a tool to rehabilitate and in turn may improve performance. With classes, rehearsals, shows and tours on the horizon pushing bodies to outside of their regular comfort zone, Dancers, Musicians and Musical Theatre performers may consider seeking treatment in order to gain immediate relief for muscle soreness. It can also be applied post-event to remove waste products/toxins, speed up recovery time and de-stress after a performance.

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Don’t forget TL Health offers Sports Massage where TL Students receive a brilliant discount!

http://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/trinity-laban-health/health-treatments/sports-massage

Jess Coleman: Graduate Intern, Health.

The Importance of Dancer Screening

JM and AW treadmill test

Dancer screening is not a new concept, almost all dance companies now have a working relationship with a specialist dance physiotherapist and/or orthopaedic surgeon. But why is screening so important for dancers, dance specific healthcare practitioners and dance scientists?

The ability to dance well and to dance safely is influenced by a number of physiological, biomechanical and psychological factors. Screening is one method of collecting information about individual dancers, in order to identify whether they possess the attributes necessary to participate safely in training and whether risk factors that predispose them to clinical or medical problems can be identified, and result in effective prevention programmes.

From a wider research perspective, screening of dancers is also necessary to establish norms for various factors such as; body alignment and relevant anatomic deviations, range of motion and muscular strength at key joints, body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness and aspects of neuromuscular coordination. Using data collected through screening we can begin to identify what is “normal” at what age and for what gender in order to comment upon whether this is usual, and whether the prognosis for improvement is good or poor. Ultimately, this idea feeds back to and benefits the individual dancer. Once normative values have been established, the even more important questions of what significance they and their deviations have for injury rehabilitation, and performance can be addressed.

Three key aims of screening programmes:

  1. To detect risk factors at an early stage in order to prevent injuries.
  2. To learn the physical characteristics of dancers so that it can be used as a baseline for comparison when injuries occur.
  3. To establish individual baseline data in order to set educational and training or rehabilitative goals.

With developments in technology, both dancers and dance researchers can now utilise online resources such as, the Dancer Wellness Project which provide useful technological infrastructures to facilitate and bring together the expansive projects and screening data of participating companies, universities and organisations

The Dance Science and Health teams at Trinity Laban offer a number of Health and Fitness Screening days throughout the year. Please email health@trinitylaban.ac.uk to find out more information and join our mailing list.

Amelia Wilkinson

Health Administrative Intern and Dance Science Graduate Intern

Warm up and cool down for dancers

 

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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.