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Ballet Technique: Vocabulary, Mechanics, Stressors, & Modifications

presented by Shaw Bronner

Accreditation Check:

All dance forms require mastery of alignment and stabilization during drastically different types of postures and movements (e.g. relevé, battement, floor and kneeling work, back hinges, etc.). In order to develop effective injury prevention and treatment strategies, it is important that health care practitioners understand the vocabulary and biomechanics of exercises and combinations specific to each technique. The goals of this lecture are to expand the practitioner’s understanding about ballet, improve the level of communication between clinicians and dancers, enable the practitioner to structure a more functional progression following injury or surgery, and develop biomechanically sound technique corrections or modifications following injury.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Shaw Bronner, PT, PhD, OCS

    Shaw Bronner’s first career was as a dancer, performing nationally and internationally with several modern dance companies. Dr. Bronner earned her PhD at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University) in rehabilitation and movement sciences, earned an EdM in biobehavioral studies at Columbia University's Teachers College, and did her physical therapy entry level work at SUNY Downstate. She is certified as an Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS). Dr. Bronner directs Physical Therapy Services at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Foundation, where she created and coordinates the in-house program for the two companies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ailey II, and The Ailey School students. Her research on the Ailey program was able to demonstrate that an in-house program with emphasis on injury prevention and timely treatment reduces injuries, time loss, and is cost effective. She currently teaches Anatomy-Kinesiology to the Ailey-Fordham BFA Freshman. Dr. Bronner is also Director of the ADAM Center, co-owner of Synthesis Physical Therapy, and Visiting Professor at Yale University. The ADAM Center is a research laboratory dedicated to the study of human movement and dance, examining human movement from many perspectives including biomechanics, neuroscience, ergonomics, epidemiology, injury, and prevention and rehabilitation. Dr. Bronner has published over 100 articles and abstracts on these topics and presents frequently at national and international forums. Some of her research has included the kinematics and kinetics of breaking in hip hop dance, analysis of forces in tap dance, and optimization theory in motor learning in dancers. Recent work demonstrated that hypermobility, technique motor control, tight muscles, and previous injury are key predictors of musculoskeletal injury in pre-professional dance students. She serves on Editorial Board of Medical Problems of Performing Artists and Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, where she is also Associate Editor. Dr. Bronner uses a neuro-orthopaedic physical therapy treatment model incorporating the principles of motor learning and motor control combined with manual therapy. As a specialist in dance physical therapy, she has worked with dancers for over 20 years. This expertise benefits all her patients, from the athlete to those with neurologic problems.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

Download Learning Objectives
  1. Introduction to Ballet and Ballet Vocabulary

    1. Introduction to Ballet and Ballet Vocabulary

    Ballet technique is a critical skill taught in most serious dance training studios, including those that are thought to be primarily modern dance, such as The Ailey School and The Graham School. While there are several classical ballet training systems, such as Vaganova (Russian), Cecchetti (Italian), Bournonville (Danish), and Royal Academy of Dance (English), they all share the basic movements and vocabulary.

  2. What is Good Alignment? Discussion of Optimal and Non-Optimal Mechanics in Ballet and Resulting Injuries

    2. What is Good Alignment? Discussion of Optimal and Non-Optimal Mechanics in Ballet and Resulting Injuries

    Comparisons of an advanced and beginner dancer will be made to discuss technique and alignment errors. Complaints and injuries due to alignment problems will be discussed.

  3. Injury Prevention and Treatment Strategies

    3. Injury Prevention and Treatment Strategies

    This chapter will address injury prevention and treatment strategies, including technique correction, strengthening, flexibility, and mobilization exercises.

  4. Progression for Return to Ballet Technique Class

    4. Progression for Return to Ballet Technique Class

    As rehabilitation advances, we address alignment and how to access the correct muscles to achieve efficient and effective dance movements. This chapter reviews class modification during rehabilitation using our progression for return to ballet class following lower extremity injury. Specific injuries may require slower progression, therefore no time frames are provided. A rationale is provided for each modification during rehabilitation. The viewer can use these concepts to further modify to protect specific diagnoses.