The Demands of a Working Day Among Female Professional Ballet Dancers

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Abstract:

Professional classical ballet dancers typically face long working days, and many complain of fatigue, particularly as a possible cause of injury. However, little information exists regarding the true physiological demands on dancers. The aim of the present study was therefore to ascertain the daily workload of professional female ballet dancers in terms of work intensity and rest data. Information regarding a single “work day” was obtained from 51 female dancers in one company using a multiple accelerometer. Data were examined for the amount of time spent at work intensities measured in metabolic equivalents (METS)deemed sedentary, low, moderate, and high, and the length of each period at rest. Results indicated significant differences between dancer rankings (corps de ballet, first artist, soloist, and principal) for mean exercise intensity and the percentage of time spent at sedentary intensity (< 3 METS), moderate intensity (3-6 METS) (p < 0.005), and vigorous intensity (6-9 METS) (p < 0.05). The ratios of time spent below 1.5 METS versus time spent above 1.5 METS (“rest” vs. “work”) were also significantly different (p < 0.001) between rankings. When rest periods throughout the working day were analyzed, 90% of dancers were found to spend less than 60 consecutive minutes resting at any one time; for 33.3% of dancers this was less than 20 minutes. Results also revealed significant differences (p < 0.05) between dancer rankings for the greatest amount of rest at any one time during the day. It was concluded that female professional classical ballet dancers' ranking in their companies should be considered in devising work-rest schedules to help them to avoid fatigue and resultant injuries.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, and JVS Performing Arts, Nuneaton Warwickshire, Meadow Street, Abbey Green, Nuneaton CV11 5JF, United Kingdom;, Email: e.twitchett@wlv.ac.uk 2: School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom 3: School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, and the Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injury, Birmingham, United Kingdom 4: School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom, and the Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Thessaly, Greece

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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