Few things give me more professional joy and inspiration than teaching the next generation of young dancers about their bodies.
Last weekend I ventured out to Bairnsdale in regional Victoria to the Jan Pianta School of Dance – the longest running dance school in East Gippsland, headed up by Jan Pianta. East Gippsland holds a place close to my heart, as my childhood family holidays for many years were spent camping and caravanning around the beaches and bush of the region.
Over the past decade, the scope of dance medicine has widened dramatically. Dance students from recreational dance schools, as well as pre-professional and full time programs are able to access top tier expert dance physiotherapy services and quality care, once reserved for professional dancers. It is now customary for dance teachers in the capital cities to refer their students to dance physiotherapists for injury management, pre-pointe assessments and technique evaluations. However, it is not always possible for rural parents to make multiple trips to the city for specialised dance physiotherapy services. My desire is to bring these services to regional centres, to enable all dancers access to the same dance health advantages and opportunities within their own communities, as are available in urban areas.
The morning was spent with Jan’s senior students, assessing some niggling foot injuries, providing a second opinion on ongoing management, and examining students’ readiness to commence pointe work. The dancers were energised and engaged, taking on new corrections and techniques maturely with the utmost respect for their bodies.
The afternoon involved taking groups of students through practical and educational workshops:
- Safe Stretching for the 5-9 year olds
- Active Anatomy for the 10-12 year olds
- Taming Turnout for the 13+ girls.
The dancers left the sessions with a bunch of homework to do, new concepts to wrap their brains around and a sense of empowerment that they are able to improve their technique and reduce their injury risks them selves with the crafty little tricks.
It was an absolute pleasure to be involved in the physiotherapy care Jan Pianta’s dancers – I can’t wait to see their progress when I head back to Bairnsdale next time.
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