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Title: Physiological demands of performance in Classical Ballet and their relationships with injury and aesthetic components
Author: Twitchett, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 6195
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2009
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At performance level, classical ballet is a form of high-intensity, intermittent exercise, requiring a strong aerobic foundation. Existing training methods have remained largely unchanged over the past century, resulting in poorly conditioned dancers who are prone to injury. The purpose of the thesis was to examine, through several inter-related studies, the demands of training and performance at professional level, and whether fitness levels of classical ballet dancers affect both aesthetic components of performance, and injury. All participants were either in the final year of elite vocational training or were professional dancers. Initial, observational, investigations indicated that both rehearsal and performance posed a variety of demands on different ranks of dancer within a company’s structure, and depicted daily workloads which supported previous complaints of fatigue. Before examination of fitness or performance could begin, novel tools to assess both aerobic fitness, and performance proficiency in ballet dancers were designed and tested for reliability and validity. Both tests met with test-retest reliability standards, with 95% limits of agreement of ±6.2 for the aerobic test, and ±1.5 points (out of 10) for the performance rating scale. High overall performance scores were then best predicted by high jumps of both legs and good active flexibility of the left leg (F=4.142, df=3, P=0.042). Following this, an intervention study investigated the effects of a period of supplemental fitness training, designed to enhance aerobic fitness, jump height and local muscular endurance, on the performance scores of a randomly assigned group of dancers. A control group continued with regular training. Performance scores at the outset of the study were compared to those following the intervention period. Overall scores for the intervention group increased by significantly more than those of the control group, (p=0.03), with greatest gains seen for control and skill, indicating that supplemental fitness training, specifically targeting aerobic and local muscular endurance, can help improve performance, particularly elements such as control and skill. Finally, two separate studies confirmed that low aerobic fitness and low body fat percentage were related to injury in ballet dancers. Further research needs to focus on fully ascertaining the physical demands of ballet, and whether better training dancers to meet these demands results in enhanced performance and reduction in injury.
Supervisor: Wyon, Matthew A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dance ; Ballet ; Fitness ; Injury ; Physiology ; Performance ; Dance science ; Dance medicine ; Health