The past twenty years has seen a steady growth in the number of studies on the health and well-being of dancers. Medical doctors, orthopaedists, movement scientists, physical
therapists, other practitioners in the medical and paramedical sciences, and an increasing number of psychologists, who were treating dancers, have been gradually expanding their body of knowledge by doing research and publishing their results in new journals like Medical Problems of Performing Artists (since 1985), the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science (since 1997), and several others. In the early nineties, new organisations were formed, such as the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, which brought together medical practitioners and researchers who wanted to share and increase their knowledge.
A wide range of topics is covered, including the investigation of the causes of dance injuries, injury care, rehabilitation, injury prevention, nutritional concerns, kinesiological studies (e.g. the biomechanical and physiological aspects of dance)and psychological issues. In the wake of these studies, guidebooks are published on health-related issues, written for medical practitioners who work with dancers, and for dancers themselves.
The knowledge that is generated by these scholars shows an incredible variety. Unfortunately, the language used to present the results is often dense and inaccessible, making it difficult for non-specialists to read and understand, even if they are ‘practising kinesiologists’. This might be one of the reasons why new knowledge that is produced by scientific research may not be taken up and integrated into dancers’ education, training or injury treatment. The knowledge itself, however, is valuable enough and could definitely enhance the understanding of teaching, training and performing dance. An eﬀort should be taken to ‘translate’ the results of scientific research for the dance
community to ensure that this knowledge does not remain confined to universities or the medical profession, but can be accessed by those who can put it into practice.
Reviewing the dance medicine and science publications, it becomes apparent that certain subjects attract more attention than others. In recent years, the psychological aspects of dance, including stress, seem to have become the ‘hottest’ topics.
Other subjects covered extensively by scientific research are: the teaching and training of technique, injury/injury prevention (with specific attention to overuse injuries), fitness/conditioning/aerobics, nutrition/eating disorders, menstruation/amenorrhea, alignment, rehabilitation and turnout.
In this publication I discuss research on three of the topics that have attracted ample attention from the scientific community: injuries, fitness and nutrition