Principal dancer Vishwakiran Nambi talks about body conditioning for dancers.
Fitness is one of the most important area of concern for a performer irrelevant of the age. Dance is arguably the most demanding art form and is as physical as any sport. Hence, it is vital for a dancer to understand the areas in fitness for dance and be disciplined enough to take measures to remain fit throughout their dancing career.
Fitness in dance is not just about constructing a set of dynamic physical routines and doing them vigorously without any direction. One should understand their body, its limits and its requirements and design a desired fitness regime which should help you not just condition your body but also understand it on a deeper level.
We shall divide this into three segments, each dealing with certain sections of conditioning for dance.
– Understanding your body.
– Recognizing the needs/requirements of your body.
– Designing the regime.
For starters, we shall deal with Segment 1 for now –
Understanding the Body-
- Knowing the body type Every body is unique in its own way, Knowing what kind of body you have is very vital. Indian bodies are average sized, we are not a very tall race of people, our average height being 5.4 ft- 5.5 ft. Fortunately this does not effect the dance community as such. If you have had a very physically active childhood where you were some kind of an athlete you would usually have strong and enduring legs and should be able to sustain long sessions of dancing but your upper body would be considerably weak which will have its effects on your technique since you would try and make up for the lack of strength through faulty technique. Or its the other way around for people who have been less active during their earlier years. Some would be strong for short duration and lack endurance of any sort and some would have great endurance with less or no strength for short bursts of extreme physicality.
- Understanding irregularities in body like misalignment
This is not something that you can identify very easily and might require an experts opinion, but necessary to identify so you can condition yourself to work around it and alter your technique to suit your body.
- Old injuries Knowing the limitation of your body keeping in mind any old injuries would be essential for you to condition the area around the injured part so it does not cause any major trouble during your performing years.
- Understanding anatomy Understanding the muscle and bone structure of the body is the first step towards fitness in any physical art form or any movement discipline. Understanding the functions of each of the muscles or group of muscles and bones is extremely vital not only in building strength but also in understanding injuries, their causes and the process of recovery.
- Understanding joints and the interrelationship of joints within the body Your joints play a very vital role in achieving great flexibility and alignment. Hence understanding how to strengthen them and keep them lubricated is extremely important to assist them in enduring dance for a longer period of time.
- Understanding body weight – percentage of fat and muscle This is probably the one of the biggest concerns in any dancers career. Maintaining weight for professional dancing is as important as the dance itself. Though indian dance costumes might help in covering some of the extra weight, it is important to understand that excess weight will not just effect the physical appearance but also the performance capacity.
- Understanding diet requirements Diet has a direct impact on you being fit. It is not just about counting calories, but it also about eating nutritious food which will induce strength stamina and endurance.
We shall discuss the other segments in consequent blogs.