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Cardiorespiratory fitness in contemporary dance training and performance

Needham-Beck, Sarah (2017). Cardiorespiratory fitness in contemporary dance training and performance. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)


This PhD thesis presents a thorough investigation of the relevance and importance of cardiorespiratory fitness in contemporary dance training and performance. Through an initial introduction and literature review, gaps in the current understanding of, and challenges presented by, dance training and performance practices are highlighted, as are five commonly presented conclusions of previous research. Firstly, it is often stated that dance activity predominantly consists of intermittent work periods of varying intensities, secondly that significant differences exist in the cardiorespiratory demands of class, rehearsal, and performance, thirdly that class and rehearsal intensity is insufficient to elicit an aerobic training response, fourth that the aerobic capacity of dancers is relatively low, and, lastly that high injury rates in dancers are often attributed to fatigue and overwork. However methodological limitations of previous research put into question the accuracy and validity of these statements. In order to develop understanding and overcome some of these limitations, five research studies were designed as extensions and enhancements of previous studies in this area. Three aims of the PhD were stated: 1) to investigate cardiorespiratory demands of contemporary dance performance repertoire, 2) to investigate cardiorespiratory adaptation to contemporary dance training and performance, and 3) to critically appraise methods commonly used in physiological investigation into dance and propose recommendations for future research. The main findings are that cardiorespiratory adaptation in relation to dance training and performance is highly specific and only detected through relative change in the demand of dance activity itself. Findings suggest that measures of cardiorespiratory fitness related to aerobic capacity (VO2peak) and anaerobic threshold do not change over time and are not correlated to dance performance competence. It is emphasised throughout that current methodological limitations restrict our ability to accurately document the relative cardiorespiratory demands of dance performance and change in these across a period of extended training and/or performance. The highly varied nature of contemporary dance performance is discussed throughout, including fluctuations in demand experienced by individuals, and it is emphasised that this needs to be taken into consideration in future research. Potential implications of findings from the perspective of both the researcher and the dance educator are postulated as are the contributions made to the knowledge base.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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