Dance Advice

Can we work together to maximise the performance of both dancers and athletes?

Photo by Emma Fishwick.
Photo by Emma Fishwick.

Improving performance fitness and stamina, preventing injury and decreasing recovery time is something professional athletes and dancers have in common. Co3, a flagship contemporary dance company in Perth, and the West Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS), have entered into an innovative partnership to maximise the performance of athletes and dancers. Dance Informa spoke with Sacha Fulton, physiologist at WAIS, and Co3 Executive Director Richard Longbottom to find out more.

Co3 dancers at WAIS. Photo by Emma Fishwick.

Co3 dancers at WAIS. Photo by Emma Fishwick.

“Raewyn Hill, our artistic director, has always been interested in devising new ways of supporting the training and development of the dancers within the company,” Longbottom says. “The initial residency was around collaboration and exchange, giving our dancers exposure to some of the best training facilities, coaches and programs in the country. And as well, it was a chance for WAIS staff and athletes to see a contemporary dance company in action and to stimulate dialogue around the athleticism required of contemporary dancers. During the week, our dancers also had the opportunity to share some training with athletes, including time with the synchronised swimming team, the diving team, a swimming session and with the gymnastics squad.”

He adds, “We did have some exciting results from when our dancers joined in a session in the diving pool. One of our team had a bit of an interesting entry into the water. Not quite as smooth as it could have been.”

Longbottom says that dancers were impressed by WAIS, that it was clear that it was set up as a centre focused on the well-being of athletes. He says there were “amazing facilities, expert coaches, nutritionists and support teams. Everything was set up to maximise the potential of the athletes who trained there, in order for them to hone their skills necessary to compete at the highest level. The conversation continues around learning and sharing training methods, and performance preparation and psychology.”

Drawing on the scientific expertise gathered over many years at WAIS means the dance community may not have to duplicate research transferable from an athletic context to a dance context. There is potential for this collaboration to change daily practice and industry standards for training and supporting dancers.

Photo by Emma Fishwick.

Photo by Emma Fishwick.

“WAIS and Co3 see a bright future for this collaboration,” says Fulton. “In the future, Co3 dancers will attend WAIS on a weekly basis for a yoga session, which will also be opened up to all WAIS staff and athletes. In return, the Co3 dancers will be able to use some of the WAIS facilities, such as the Recovery Centre.”

Fulton continues, “The level of fun and enjoyment from both the Co3 dancers and the WAIS athletes was a pleasant surprise.”

The benefits of learning other forms of physical training to support your primary practice are well known; learning contrasting movement styles helps clarify each style or form. This collaboration between WAIS and Co3 sets the stage for other similar collaborations and knowledge sharing across the country.

For more information, visit Co3 at co3.org.au and West Australian Institute of Sport at www.wais.org.au

By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.

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