Health & Performance

Concern for health and welfare is a crucial investment when it comes to improving the quality and extent of a professional podium career. Students at the Academy of Theatre and Dance endure a high degree of physical and mental stress. It is essential therefore, that a student learns to adopt a responsible way of working. Moreover, the study programme and the future employer are co-responsible for a healthy environment, conducive to study and work.

Since the start of the 1990s, the Dance sub-faculty of the Academy of Theatre and Dance has steadily developed a unique Health & Perfromance Programme. The programme consists of three parts: education, advice and guidance and research. Initially the program, developed by the Dance & Health Department, focused mainly on dance students. However, the Health & Perfromance Team has now also taken to working for other Academy of Theatre and Dance departments.

1. Education

Basic Health Package
All first year dance students follow a series of lessons about health for dancers. Among other topics, these lessons teach them about the balance between load (what is demanded of a dancer) and load bearing capacity (the amount of load a dancer can cope with). Attention is devoted to anatomical knowledge and injury prevention, smart training methods, healthy nutrition and lifestyle. This package can be adapted to suit all education disciplines at the Academy of Theatre and Dance.
The lessons focus on knowledge, insight and practical skills. It is possible to expand the basic package with so-called Specials. These Specials are aimed at passing on knowledge and insights for the continued healthy practice of one’s profession.

Physical fitness training
National and international research has revealed that fitness – especially the cardiovascular capacity or endurance – plays an important role in improving dance performance and preventing injuries. For that reason, physical fitness training has a standard place in the basic roster of all dance training courses.

Transition lessons
There are special lessons for students recovering from an injury. During these lessons, students work under expert supervision to improve their dance technical qualities with the help of exercises geared to their individual capabilities and (temporary) incapacities.

2. Advice and coaching

Physical Profile
The aim is to map the physical potential related to dance to identify individual strengths and weaknesses, before the new study year starts. It is important for the student to learn how to work with this information in an optimal way during his/her education.

The first part of the screening for most of the students, takes place as a part of the audition and consists out of the next components:

  • A structural screening in which a physiotherapist will look at how you are build, length and strength of the muscles, the stability of the ligaments, the mobility and firmness of the joints. Besides this the therapist will also look at your physical history concerning your training background and possible injuries and complaints you have had in the past.  It is important to identify potential higher risks for injuries.
  • In the medical screening the physician will examine your general health and your health in relation to the profession as a dancer.

The second part of the screening takes place at the beginning of the new study year and is called the:

  • Functional screening, it consists of a more functional movement examination and is seen as a so called zero starting line for the students personal physical development. More extended information will be given before entering.

The physical profile consists out of all the different parts of the screening.
Based on this profile the student will receive points of attention and of action in a so called Follow Up in the beginning of the school year (and another one in the second semester) from a paramedic from the Health Team. This gives the student insight in the physical possibilities of his/her body. The student can work on these points, under supervision or on their own , to improve his/her performance during the study.

Consulting hours
Consulting hours give students the opportunity to raise individual questions or physical and/or psychological complaints. Problems can then be identified at an early stage and if necessary guidance can be offered. In the case of injury, a recovery program will be compiled. A student may seek help at his/her own initiative or be referred by a study supervisor, mentor or teacher. The consulting hours have an advisory and educational function. No treatment is given!

Students can choose from a diverse range of consulting hours:

  • Consulting hour – posture and movement, injury prevention. 
    By a physio-manual therapist and a Mensendieck exercise therapist
  • Consulting hour – nutrition. 
    By a dietitian
  • Consulting hour – psychological counseling. 
    By a psychologist
  • Health and well-being
    By the coordinator Health department

Advice referral
If (para)medical treatment is necessary, the Health Team can give specific advice. The team is affiliated with a network of specialized healthcare professionals (for example, general practitioner, Manual-, Physiotherapist, Mensendieck Therapist, Orthopedic Surgeon, Dietitian, Psychologist and Psychomotor Therapist, Osteopath).

3. Research

Growth measurements preparatory training
Results of research into the growth of dance pupils in 2001 have led to the structural implementation of these measurements and annual registration for all pupils following preparatory training. Goal of these measurements is to inform the dance pupils and dance teacher about the individual pupil’s growth. The structural measuring of aspects in which growth plays a central role, can lead to recommending a more individually orientated focus on support and guidance of the dance pupils of the Preliminary Course National Ballet Academy.

The Academy of Theatre and Dance library has an extensive collection of books and magazines on the subject of (dance) health. You can also consult the results of the scientific research undertaken among the dance study programmes in recent years.   

Erzi Hoogveld, Coordinator Health & Performance
T: +31 (0) 20 527 7639