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Balance Exercises for South Asian Dancers – Why it is important and How to improve it?

November 2, 2017

 

WHY IS BALANCE NEEDED IN SOUTH ASIAN DANCE ?

 

South Asian dance forms like Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali involve complex footwork, low jumps and spins and rapid transition from two leg to one leg stance. Such quick changes result in shift of the body’s Centre of Mass and challenging the dancers’ balance. If a dancer is unable to maintain her balance throughout a dance performance, it may result in the dancer losing body and falling. Thus, maintaining postural control and balance when dancing is important for injury prevention.

 

 

WHAT IS BALANCE?

 

Postural stability (balance) is maintained by complex interactions among three systems - (1) visual (vision), (2) vestibular (sensory mechanism in inner ear), and (3) proprioceptive (foot receptors). Hence exercises to train balance need to focus on training each of these 3 systems.

Postural stability requires not only sensory inputs, but also adequate muscle synergies (major muscle groups like gluteus maximus – buttock, hamstrings – back of the thigh, quadriceps- front of the thigh, calf muscles, the back and abdominal erector spinae and core muscles) to maintain balance.

Although South Asian dance forms training include series of balance-challenging postures and spins, the rates of falls and ankle injuries due to inadequate balance still remains high. A gap in literature exists describing exercises for training balance in South Asian dancers.

In this article, we will discuss simple and effective exercises to improve balance and postural control during dance.

 

 

'BALANCE EXERCISES'

 

Single limb support with eyes closed. 
Muscles worked: Hip abductors and core.

 

 

HOW TO PERFORM: 
Lift the leg of your choice in air by bending at your knee thereby adopting single limb stance.

Make sure that the ankle of lifted limb does not touch the stance limb.

Close your eyes after adopting the stance and maintain the position for 30sec.

Swaying of hands is only permitted if you think you are losing balance.

Use of stop-watch timer can be made. Repeat the same for opposite limb.

3 Repetition for each side with 30 sec hold is recommended. Rest pause of 20 sec is permitted after each repetition.

Gradually increase the hold by 5 sec every week.

 

Total duration: 5-6 minutes

 

 

'THE SINGLE-LEG SQUAT AND TWIST'

 

Muscles worked: gluteus medius, quadriceps, hamstrings and core.

 How to perform: 
Stand on your right leg, arms extended straight in front of you, torso hinged forward, back flat

Simultaneously squat down with your right leg while rotating your upper body to left.

Return to start. Repeat for a full set and then switch sides.
Initially begin with 5 repetitions on each side and gradually progress to 10.

 

Total duration: 5-6 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'THE RUNNING MAN'

 

Muscles worked: Hip flexors, gluteus and core

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO PERFORM: 

Lift your right leg so that your thigh is parallel to floor and you are standing on one leg.

Bend your arms in a running stance, so that your right arm is bent in front of your torso and your left arm is bent behind your torso
In one smooth motion extend your right leg behind you, leaning forward with your torso and extending your right arm forward and left arm back.

Return to starting position. Repeat for a full set and then switch sides.

Perform 3 repetitions on each side.

 

Total duration: 6-8 minutes

 

 

'STANDING REACH OUT'

 

Muscles worked: Hip flexors, gluteus and core

 

 

HOW TO PERFORM: 

 

Place small cones (or soccer balls) in front of you.

Put the cones far enough out to challenge the balance but not too far where it is impossible to reach.

Standing on one foot reaches out in a controlled speed and touch each cone.

Do this on both legs for 3 sets each.

 

Total duration: 4-6 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS:


As South Asian dance forms are highly comprehensive and involve wide range of movements from slow graceful transitions to high intensity footwork thereby constantly challenging balance of dancer performing them. Regular practice of balance training exercise during warmup can prevent the risk of falls and injuries amongst South Asian dancers during performance as well as during rehearsals.

 

 

 

References
Chatterjee A. Therapeutic value of Indian classical and folk dance. Rupkatha Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities. West Bengal State University.India.2013; 5(4): 124-133.

Rupkatha.com http://rupkatha.com/the-therapeutic-value-of-indian-classi…/

Horak FB, Nashner LM. Central programming of postural movements: adaptation to altered support surface configurations. J Neuro-physiol. 1986 Jun; 55(6): 1369-81.

Meditouch.co Accessed on 12 Aug 2017 at: http://meditouch.co.il/…/11/Automatic-postural-response-.pdf

Mishra B. Natyashashtra. 1997 May. 4(2): 446-741 Accessed on 12 Aug 2017 at: https://www.googlee-book.co.in/pdf/2008

 

 

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