Why Everyone Should Offer Dance Rehab Classes

Posted on July 11, 2011

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Ten weeks ago I began working with the lovely Liz Corwin for a research project that she has been conducting regarding dance rehabilitation. Two days a week, myself and one other student have been participating in a one hour class led by Liz, who put together a series of movement from the classes of our University of Oregon dance professors. The two of us that are participating in the study both have lower back injuries, so the movement was set in place both to challenge us and to help us figure out alignment issues without creating further injury. Liz also gave us exercises to complete at home to help us build strength in specific areas.

The story of my back injury looks like this: onset due to overuse in February, performed, didn’t stop dancing full-time until mid March, performed, still injured in April but began to go to a physical therapist, started dance rehab classes at the beginning of May, got in a bad car accident at the end of May that injured my back further, performed, stopped taking technique classes, and today I am still in the process of recovery. This injury has created a whirlwind of emotions for me and has brought me to tears many times while sitting out during class and watching my friends leap across the floor.

Needless to say, this dance rehab class has meant a lot to me throughout the healing process. Since I haven’t been able to make it through a full two hour technique class for a few months, it is so important for me to come to a slower paced class that both challenges me and allows me to really focus in on what is going on with my body. Throughout the process I learned that some of my movement tendencies have caused further strain on my body. A huge part of this class consists of acknowledging the tendencies, and understanding the healthier way to execute the movement.

Overall, this has been a really great experience. Due to some major setbacks (performances, a car accident, and a rough camping trip) my injury is still shouting at me now and then. However, I am able to do things that were literally impossible for me before this class. See the photo above of us holding a one arm plank!

This post is titled “Why Everyone Should Offer Dance Rehab Classes” because I have had such a positive experience and I think that others could also benefit from dance rehabilitation. The class really helped me cope with the emotions that arose when I realized I couldn’t continue dancing the way that I wanted to. It helped me realize that I can adjust movement in class if it hurts my body, which is something that I certainly had not been doing before. Next week, I’m heading back to my hometown of San Diego, California and I’m excited to take a technique class for the first time in a while.

As much as most dance teachers I know try to give their students corrections, I think that classes like this one should be added to every dance curriculum to give students a better understanding of their bodies. However, I also think that only those who are very knowledgeable about the scientific workings of the human body should teach a class like this. And, of course, they must know a thing or two about dance!

Contact Liz Corwin at: tangolizfoster@gmail.com for more information on what it means to conduct a dance rehabilitation class. She is headed to Elon University for graduate school in the fall and I know she will continue to take the dance world by storm!

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Posted in: Education