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Rest and Recovery for the Dancer-Athlete

photo:  cafepress.com

by Janine Bryant for The Dance Journal

Most high-level athletes know that adequate rest after performance is essential to recovery and regeneration.  However, many still overtrain or feel guilty when they take the day off and dancers are no different!

The beginning of this academic year is a great time to analyze schedules to determine study times, workout times and rest times.

Rest is critical to performance for a variety of reasons.  Some reasons are physiological and some are psychological.  Rest is required though so that the body can repair and strengthen.  For dancers who are constantly striving for technical gains, rest could be the key to an increased level of performance in the studio and on the stage.

What happens during rest and recovery?  The body renews energy stores and repairs tissue. Without this time to recover, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise.  Dancers will notice a general feeling of malaise, decreased performance and possible depression. At this stage, the body is at an increased risk for injury. Dancers who have pushed themselves beyond this point know all too well the damage that can occur.

There are two types of recovery:  short-term and long-term.  Short-term recovery occurs in the hours just after intense exercise.  Dancers should think of proper cool down, hydration and the right post exercise foods so that energy stores and fluids are replaced as well as the protein content of muscle cells.  This is also the time when soft tissue repairs.

Long-term recovery behaviors involve getting enough sleep, cross-training and modifying workouts and intensity levels.  Sleep deprivation has been linked to subtle changes in hormone levels and increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) which can effect mood, muscle recovery and glycogen synthesis.  Glycogen is an easily converted store of energy: a polysaccharide found in the liver and muscles that is easily converted to glucose for energy. Think of it as food for your muscles!

Balance is key – treat your daily schedule like it is the key to your wellness, because it is!  Scheduling time to study is important but, for the dancer-athlete, rest is equally important.  Work hard on your plies, your range of motion and on multiple turns but consider that you may do all three better with more adequate sleep!

Until next time, friends, dance healthy and strong!

Janine Bryant
Director of Dance Programs
Eastern University, St. David’s, Pa.

To find out more, please check out this full article, The Benefits of Rest and Recovery After Exercise.


- Janine Bryant

Janine Bryant, Co-Director of the Eastern University Dance Program, or ‘Prof B.’, as her students call her, teaches courses for Dance, Biokinetics and the Campolo College of Graduate Studies. She has been teaching technique and choreographing classical and contemporary ballets for more than twenty years. Janine received her B.F.A. in Modern Dance from the University of the Arts in 1986. In the early 1980’s, Janine was a scholarship student at the Martha Graham School and studied with Martha Graham, Diane Gray, Kevin Keenan, Yuriko, Pearl Lang, Peggy Lyman, Ethel Winter, Jacqueline Bulglisi, Don Foreman, Marianne Bachmann, and Armgard Von Barteleben. While in New York, Janine danced with the Pearl Lang Dance Company and appeared in the cast of Ms. Lang’s “The Beloved”, filmed at Brooklyn College. Janine also worked with Lynne Lesniak and Dancers, an offshoot of the Alwin Nikolai Company.

In addition to her studies at the Graham School in New York, Janine was also on scholarship at the Peridance Center where she worked with Igal Perry, Miguel Moore and Zvi Gottheiner. Independently, Janine studied with Finis Jhung, David Howard and Madame Gabriella Darvash (Kirov technique). She also worked with Kathy Grant in New York to learn the Pilates method. As a member of Philadelphia Dance Theatre, Janine was chosen to dance the solo role of Doris Humphrey’s “The Call and Breath of Fire” and was personally coached by Ernestine Stodelle in New York and at her home in Connecticut for the role.

In the fall of 1990, Janine was one of two Americans accepted to study at The Royal Academy of Dancing in London, and earned her Elementary Executant Certification and her Pre-Elementary Teaching Certification. Both certifications are recognized in 52 countries worldwide. IN 1991, Janine founded The Professional School (TPS) in Turnersville, NJ, and directed the school through 2002. TPS was a technique-based studio where many of her high school seniors received college scholarships and several won the University of the Arts’ Presidential Merit Scholarship worth $20,000. She has been a frequent guest lecturer at The University of the Arts where she received their prestigious Silver Star Alumni Award in 1996. The Silver Star Alumni award has been bestowed upon nearly 100 graduates of the University’s College of Art and Design and College of Performing Arts. The honorees are selected because they are role models and represent educational and artistic excellence that the University’s faculty works hard to achieve.

Janine was a visiting guest artist for the Black Rock Dance Company in Reno, Nevada, where she created new works and taught master classes. She was recently added to the guest faculty of DeSales University for their Summer Intensive programs. Janine is a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and Dance UK and is currently earning her PhD in Dance Medicine and Science from The University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom. Her research focuses on the aging dancer and range of motion. Janine is passionate about teaching solid technique grounded in sound anatomic and biomechanical principles at a university level. Janine lives in Audubon, PA with her husband, two sons and two cats.

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