Safe Dance Practice

5th March 2019

Encourage healthy lifestyles

Encourage and promote physical health

Level 1

  • Promote a responsible attitude toward general health issues and provide healthy lifestyle role models.
  • Give participants information about nutrition and explain its importance to dance training and physical performance.
  • Provide access to water and explain the importance of being hydrated before, during and after exercise.
  • Provide information on the effects of substance abuse, especially its impact on susceptibility to injury.
  • Display materials that encourage healthy lifestyles (e.g. posters, ‘No Smoking’ signs, healthy eating information) .

Level 2

  • Promote a responsible attitude towards dancer health and provide healthy body image role models.
  • Teach students about individual body types and the normal changes that occur during growth periods.
  • Accept all body types and help students to make realistic career choices.
  • Explain the specific nutritional needs of dancers, including different food types.
  • Explain the risks of under-eating and excessive exercise known as the Female Athletic Triad.
  • Have specialists come to speak on specific areas of health and nutrition.
  • Have regular presentations and discussions about health, nutrition and fitness issues with your students.

Encourage and promote emotional well-being

Level 1

  • Develop open and trusting relationships with students
  • Appreciate individuality and help build on strengths
  • Promote self-esteem, assertiveness, independence and confidence
  • Provide referral to relevant health professionals where behaviour or appearance indicates a potential problem

Level 2

  • Be aware of, and sensitive to, the external pressures facing students, especially teenagers.
  • Accept and work together to manage stress, anxiety or other problems.
  • Use motivational strategies to help a dancer through challenging developmental periods, illness, injury and rehabilitation.

Provide a balanced approach to training

Level 2

  • Recognise the psychological and physiological symptoms of overtraining and discuss ways to manage, avoid and overcome this.
  • Encourage a balance between training and rest.
  • Give students information about time management skills.
  • Encourage complementary activities like meditation, swimming or yoga for stress relief and balance.

Teach dancers to take responsibility for their own training

Level 2

  • Encourage independence and the development of adult identity.
  • Encourage students to understand and accept physical limitations and challenges.
  • Encourage students to set and attain realistic personal goals.
  • Teach students about self-monitoring and training decisions (e.g. decreasing the pace, intensity or nature of training).

Provide a safe physical environment

Provide a Safe Dance environment which includes

If the ideal environment is not available, design/adapt the activity so that is safe and conduct regular risk assessment checks.

  • a venue that is free of obstacles such as furniture, building support structures, shoes and clothing
  • sprung, non-slip floors (NB concrete floors are not safe for repetitive physical activity even with wood or carpeted covering)
  • approximately 6 square metres minimum space per participant (depending on the movement style/genre)
  • adequate lighting and ceiling height for dance activity
  • enough ventilation and heating for weather/climate conditions and number of participants

Use knowledge of anatomy, kinesiology and physiology to support performance and Safe Dance practice

Apply knowledge of anatomy (musculoskeletal system)

Level 1

  • Use correct anatomical terminology.
  • Demonstrate correct anatomical alignment for the dance genre/style.
  • Identify and resolve incorrect alignment.
  • Teach students to self-correct.

Level 2

  • Describe common skeletal and muscular variations and/or limitations (scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis).
  • Explain the challenges that various congenital or medical conditions can cause for a dancer and outline what can be done to overcome or work with these challenges.
  • Identify muscle imbalances caused by injury or prolonged functional misuse.
  • Explain how to avoid muscle imbalances and prevent injury.
  • If needed, refer students to professionals for advice about remedial work.

Apply knowledge of kinesiology (anatomy and mechanics)

Level 1

  • Use safe mechanically correct movement patterns specific to the dance style/genre.
  • Use exercises and choreography that are mechanically safe and efficient.
  • Identify incorrect, inefficient and potentially dangerous movement patterns.
  • Demonstrate and teach safe, mechanically correct movement.
  • Adapt exercises and/or choreography that may be risky.

Level 2

  • Demonstrate movement mechanics for balance, weight transfer, weight taking, lifting techniques and partnering, suitable for the dance style/genre.
  • Make sure lifts, throws, balances, falls and weight support movements are suitable for gender, physical development, age, experience and skill level.
  • Emphasise preparation in learning lifts, falls and cooperative work involving trust.
  • Make sure that correct hand positions and alignment are used for support in lifts.
  • Match body shape and weight for partnering exercises.

Apply knowledge of physiology (cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems)

  • Explain fitness requirements (eg: strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility) for the genre/style.
  • Monitor student fitness.
  • Recognise limitations and understand the dangers of pushing the body beyond safe limits.
  • Match exercises and choreography to participant ability/fitness level.
  • Consider offering alternatives such as ‘own pace’ or ‘level’.

Level 2

  • Explain how to develop cardiovascular endurance and find ways to combine aerobic and anaerobic training in technique and conditioning programs.
  • Explain how to develop strength and muscular endurance and find ways to safely combine them in technique and conditioning programs.
  • Explain the types of flexibility training.
  • Teach students about the role of metabolism in diet and conditioning responses.
  • Explain the neuromotor required for the dance style/genre.
  • Explain and develop ways to challenge all three neurological systems (visual, vestibular & somatosensory).
  • Explain motor patterns, their development and the effect on training.
  • Use imagery to help development correct sequencing and to re-learn incorrect motor patterns.

Apply knowledge of physical variables (gender, age, development and level of control)

  • Understand issues relevant to age, gender, physical development and skill level, and how each affects the approach to training.
  • Match exercise/choreography length, type, intensity and duration with age, gender, physical development and level of control.
  • Create programs and training strategies specific to participant physical, social and psychological development.
  • Consider age, development and level of control for activities that require maximum strength and power (eg: lifts).

Use injury prevention and management strategies

Use strategies to enhance training and prevent injury

Level 1

  • Make sure students dress safely for the dance style/genre.
  • Make sure space and floor surface is suitable for the style/genre being taught.
  • Manage space use to reduce accidents.
  • Encourage individuals to take responsibility for their safety and the safety of others.
  • Structure the class so that exercises progress.
  • Make sure that exercises are suitable in type, intensity and duration for the group’s age, development and level of control.

Level 2

  • Create training plans (e.g. school term, annual, course length) that gradually increase the load and intensity of training based on age, physical development, alignment and level of control.
  • Create annual training plans that include a limited number of ‘peaks’ and sufficient rest periods.
  • Create annual training plans that ensure progression in training load and intensity aimed at ‘peaking’ .
  • Use the principle of periodisation to achieve a balance between technique, fitness training, conditioning, rehearsal time, rest and recovery.
  • Use foundation training (ie: aerobic fitness, skeletal stability and development of base strength) to maintain fitness during breaks and prepare for the training period ahead (eg. a term).

Understand common injuries for the dance style/genre you are teaching

Level 1

  • Be aware of common injuries, their causes and prevention
  • Use injury terminology suitable for age and understanding
  • Empower participants with the knowledge to take responsibility for their own safety
  • Include preventative conditioning exercises in classes and training programs

Level 2

  • Give students conditioning exercises relevant to individual needs.

Understand potential risks in exercises and techniques

Level 1

  • Identify and adapt potentially dangerous exercises and choreography to suit the age, physical development and level of control.
  • Discuss the potential risk of some movements, caused by lack of fitness (e.g. strength, mobility etc).
  • Adapt exercises or choreography to match fitness levels.

Level 2

  • Develop conditioning programs to help participants meet the fitness level (e.g. strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility) needed for the genre/style.

Understand the risk of over-training and fatigue

Level 1

  • Adapt exercises and choreography where students show obvious signs of fatigue.
  • Teach students about the risk of fatigue and empower them to take responsibility for their safe training and rehearsing.

Level 2

  • Check participants have developed enough aerobic capacity in their foundation training.
  • Use techniques such as mental imagery for students suffering from fatigue.
  • Modify the frequency and intensity of activities to avoid overtraining and fatigue.
  • Make sure there is a balance between activity and rest during rehearsals, a performance or examination season.
  • Use recovery techniques and include them in a training program—be aware of things that inhibit recovery from training.

Understand the risk of repetition and high impact activities

  • Make sure you have the correct floor for the style/genre.
  • Teach techniques that are mechanically safe and efficient.
  • Structure your teaching and rehearsal to avoid excessive repetition and overuse of body parts—vary the intensity, volume and activity.

Understand the risk of inadequate warm-up and cool-down

  • Explain the reasons for warm-up and cool-down exercises.
  • Include all warm-up and cool-down stages.
  • Make sure the warm-up and cool-down time is suitable for the planned content and participants.
  • Explain the potential advantages and/or disadvantages of stretching types (passive, assisted, ballistic and PNF).
  • Empower participants with the knowledge to take responsibility for their own warm-up/cool-down.

If students want a career as a dancer, use safe and relevant screening or pre-testing and auditioning procedures

  • Use suitable assessment procedures.
  • Assess the dancer’s physiology to give a realistic evaluation of career suitability.
  • Make sure the dancer’s self-esteem is protected during the process.

If students need out-of-class practice, use a safe environment

  • Make sure the tasks are limited to activities that are safe in the chosen environment (e.g. flooring, space).
  • Give clear instructions for out-of-class exercises, with the main points available in written form.
  • Remind participants about the importance of warm-up/cool-down to prevent injury.
  • Check that your Professional Indemnity insurance covers you if a student has an accident.

Use current injury recovery and rehabilitation procedures

  • Be prepared and know how to deal with or refer accidents, injury and illness.
  • Encourage students to report their illness and injuries.
  • Encourage students to get professional advice where necessary .

Use strategies to help participants through illness and injury

Level 1

  • Encourage participants to rest when they need to.
  • Find ways for participants to join classes—to maintain interest, fitness, strength, knowledge or to rehabilitate.
  • Find suitable rehabilitation and/or alternative techniques to help participants keep active.

Level 2

  • Put together a recovery program using specialist advice that includes underlying weakness correction, an incremented return to training and alternate activities to maintain fitness and motivation.
  • Adjust the dancer's movement to avoid repeating the injury.
  • Empower students with the knowledge and motivation to self-correct.
  • Use imagery and mental rehearsal as a tool for re-learning movement patterns and to re-develop physical confidence after injury.

Correctly apply first aid, set-up work health and safety and emergency procedures

  • Do an accredited course such as the First Aid and Sports Trainers Certificate.
  • Use RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for soft tissue injury.
  • Prepare a First Aid kit and have ice packs ready.
  • Display emergency phone numbers.
  • Follow legislated OH&S and emergency procedures, including evacuation and critical incident procedures, floor plans/exits, phoning sequence. Give this information to all students, participants and staff.

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