Who got that cash?

April 28, 2006

Dancers have long braved pain and injury for the sake of their art, but a study by academics at the London College of Fashion could help to bring about a change.

Helen Thomas , LCF research director, and research fellow Jennifer Tarr have been granted £102,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a 17-month programme that could change the traditional culture of dance, in which pain and injury are seen as inevitable consequences for those who choose to practise the artform.

The researchers will interview 200 modern dancers to ascertain what injuries they have suffered and what they feel are their physical strengths and weaknesses.

The individuals will then be scanned and a body-mapping process that Dr Tarr has developed will be used to create three-dimensional representations of the dancers. The dancers' reported injuries will be mapped on to the 3-D images.

Although the research approach may sound very clinical, it is in fact being undertaken from a cultural perspective.

Professor Thomas said: "Dancers often dance through injuries because if they are injured they don't work.

"And while there has been a lot of biomedical research on pain and injuries, there has been relatively little work done from a cultural perspective.

"The work we are doing will help explore the culture of dance and its relationship with pain and injury. It is about making those who are involved in dance more aware of the risks."

When they have completed their research, Professor Thomas and Dr Tarr will create a database of injuries suffered by modern dancers that will be made available to the dance industry.

The AHRC has given the pair an additional £10,500 to develop a web-based resource for dancers.

Individual dancers will also benefit from having personalised body maps of their injuries, which will aid physiotherapy.

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