Is the health risk and consequence of generalised joint hypermobility understood within a classical ballet narrative? Concerns for dance practitioners

Wendy M. Timmons*, John Sproule, Rosemary Mulholland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Generalised Joint Hypermobility (GJH) is a heritable disorder of the connective tissue that manifests as extreme range of motion in the joints; it is considered both an asset and health risk to the dancer. Recently, links between GJH, anxiety, emotional and mental wellbeing have been established. The experiences of GJH in professional dance artists (five male, four female; mean age = 32.3 yrs; range = 25–40 yrs) and Ballet masters (3 female & 1 male, mean experience 30.8 yrs.) were exploredthrough semi-structured interviews (45-60 min). A biopsychosocial filter and qualitative reflective thematic approach were appliedto the analysis. Emerging themes include; hypermobile aesthetic, professional values and preconceptions, choreographic trends, company strategies, intellectual curiosity, pedagogy and leadership. Participants agreed dancers with GJH characteristics met the direction and desired aesthetic for today’s dance companies and choreographers. They showed a good understanding of the strengths and challenges of GJH but did not directly associate any psychosocial traits. The findings demonstrate that whilst commonly exploited for choreographic gains, the health risks and experience of GJH are not understood in the professional dance environment. Finally, we translate the practical implications of our findings for teaching dance in developmental environments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch In Dance Education
Early online date25 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • biopsychosocial
  • Classical-ballet
  • dance-master
  • flexibility
  • health-risk
  • hypermobility
  • well-being

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