The Truth Behind Shin Splints

Shin Splints“Shin splints” is the term for the ache and pain around the tibia and fibula which are the bones at the front of your leg that run from your ankle to your knee. They can be treated and prevented, but here’s the low down on the truth behind this troublesome condition.

Dancers are prone to shin splints because dance puts repeated stress on the lower leg. However, some dancers are more susceptible to shin splints than others which can be the result of many factors. Poor bone alignment, feet which roll in and joint laxity are all genetic factors in determining whether you may suffer from shin splints when you dance so it is easy to get caught up in the pain of the problem rather than working to solve it.

Shin splints can cover a whole host of problems such as stress fractures (tiny breaks in the bone which occur when the muscles around the bone become too fatigued to absorb shock, such as the impact from landing from a jump), periostitis (an inflammation of the outer lining of the bones caused by repeated stress on the muscles attached to bones) and chronic exertional compartment syndrome (caused by the muscles around the bone swelling and the lining encasing those muscles getting too tight, cutting off the oxygen and blood supply, causing an ache after dancing). These conditions can be caused by similar factors (in addition to genetics), such as your dance environment (such as a floor that doesn’t provide shock absorption or is “raked”), your dance shoes (which may lack support for your arches), and the level of activity your dancing encompasses (such as the amount of jumping you do, or simply how much you dance).

Despite the worry that shin splints cause, they can be treated, with recovery times varying through the intensity of the condition. Resting, icing and elevating your legs for a few days may be enough in some cases of shin splints, but more severe injuries may require therapy or even surgery. Most importantly, shin splints can be prevented! Shoes with support for your arches and sprung floors mean that the dancing you do and your body will be aided in its work, and you will have the best possible start.

The h.Club 100 winners!

Hospital Club

Earlier this year the Hospital Club and popular magazine Time Out devised the h.Club 100, a search for the most original and influential people in the UK creative and media industries. Having counted all the votes up the results are available to view, and below is a snapshot of the performance and theatre winners, the talent that is shaping the future after an incredible year for the arts in the UK.

Wayne McGregor – Choreographer, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Royal Ballet

In the last 12 months Wayne McGregor | Random Dance has toured, presented participatory performances, including Big Dance Trafalgar Square 2012, and worked on collaborations such as Rain Room at the Barbican Centre. McGregor advocated that during the London hype of the Olympics, new work and visiting international productions was on the top of his list of priorities as part of that spectacular event. He then felt motivated to be more risk-taking, daring and adventurous to test the unusual and challenging, with London’s richly diverse audiences and participants.

Tim Minchin – Performer

Over the last year Minchin has become the ‘darling’ of the West End, as the co-writer of Olivier Award-winning hit Matilda the Musical and after a critically acclaimed portrayal of Judas in the summer 2012 UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. Minchin seems set to continue this journey of success into 2013, taking the theatre world by storm.

Sheridan Smith – Actor

Having already starred in a variety of productions such as The Royale Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Smith has since won two Olivier Awards in two consecutive years for her roles in Legally Blonde and Flare Path. Her triumph in Hedda Gabler suggests that a serious star is born – watch this space!

Image courtesy of The Hospital Club.

The Nutcracker’s Royal Touch

Margrethe II of DenmarkDuring the festive season, the dance world is abundant with Holiday inspired productions, and 2012 is no different. The Nutcracker is always a sure-fire family favourite, full of ballet slippers, magic and mystery, however one version this year is standing out for a very different reason. Queen Margrethe of Denmark, it has been discovered, has designed all the costumes (more than 100) and four large stage sets for The Nutcracker which is currently being performed in Copenhagen by the Royal Danish Ballet at the Tivoli Theatre until 22 December 2012.

Choreographed by Artistic Director Peter Bo Bendixen, The Nutcracker is displaying Royal flourishes as a result of the Queen’s talents. For the past two years the Queen has been immersed in every aspect, from sketching each costume individually (as a celebrated artist under a pseudonym) to designing the set and correcting the choreographer on historical and cultural inaccuracies. Members of the ballet company have had to experience costume fittings with the Queen, and she has been fully involved in the whole process, regarding the production as “work” and making the dancers feel as comfortable as she possibly can.

This year the Queen of Denmark celebrated forty years on the throne, but has demonstrated a clear talent in the land of theatre, ballet, and the Kingdom of Sweets, drawing upon much knowledge and research to aid her life beyond the palace walls. The director of the production aimed to make the Danish Nutcracker ‘feel’ very home-grown and Danish, with the Kingdom of Sweets replaced by Copenhagen’s Tivoli gardens, and the fairy-tale writer Han Christian Anderson distributing the presents on Christmas Eve.

It is clear that 72-year-old Queen Margrethe devotes much of her time to the arts, having attended almost every ballet shown in Copenhagen in addition to having taken ballet classes for the past thirty years with a group of her childhood school friends.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

National Youth Dance Company

National Youth Dance Company

Sadler’s Wells has been announced as the host organisation for the new National Youth Dance Company, an exciting new company aiming to create and perform innovative and influential youth dance. The NYDC hopes to draw together some of the brightest young talent from across the country to work with the internationally renowned Associate Artists of Sadler’s Wells, so pull on your leotard and get moving!

February 2013 will see the NYDC meet during school holidays at Sadler’s Wells and other regional venues in order to participate in four intensive weeks of training per year. The company will give its young members the opportunity to work with a range of inspirational teachers and choreographers, to learn, create and perform original work, drawing on a number of dance techniques including contemporary, hip hop, ballet and south Asian dance. What a fantastic opportunity to engage and get involved in a potential career starter.

As a result, the NYDC is seeking dancers aged 16-18 who are passionate about dance, who come from diverse backgrounds with experience in any dance style, and who simply love to perform. Be it in leg warmers and jazz pants, or pointe shoes and pink ballet tights, the NYDC wants to hear from you! As a member of the NYDC, young dancers will have the chance to work with 2013’s guest Artistic Director Jasmin Vardimon, a choreographer at the forefront of today’s dance scene. Members will also have the opportunity to perform in world class venues, learn different dance styles, take part in intensive rehearsals, collaborate with professional choreographers and companies and find out about career pathways and different opportunities.

NYDC experience workshops have also been announced, preceding the 2013 residencies and performances.

NYDC Experience Workshops
25 November Ipswich, DanceEast
2 December London, Sadler’s Wells
15 Swindon Dance
6 January Salford, The Lowry
19 Leeds, Yorkshire Dance
20 Newcastle, Dance City
26 Leicester, Curve Theatre
27 Kent, The Jasmin Vardimon   Production Space
2 February Birmingham Royal Ballet Studios
9 London, Sadler’s Wells
10 (Final selection) London, Sadler’s Wells
NYDC 2013 Residencies
1-12 April The Jasmin Vardimon Production   Space
26 May-2 June London, Sadler’s Wells
NYDC Performances
8 June London, Sadler’s Wells
28/29 London, Sadler’s Wells
30 Kent, The Jasmin Vardimon   Production Space
20 July Leeds, U.Dance 2013
21 Salford, The Lowry
27/28 Bristol

Image courtesy of NYCD.

Fake It Until You Make It?

Pro-Arch

In the twenty-first century, the world surrounding dancers and non-dancers alike contains the ability to ‘fake it’. Gone are the days of “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, because now it is becoming increasingly easy to modify and improve more and more about us, and the world too – you can flaunt it anyway!

‘Natural’ has become a woolly term, because how can it be proven? The likes of Photoshop and other similar tactics mean that we can appear as our ‘better selves’, and we can even do this physically by the means of plastic and cosmetic surgery. Enhancing appearances does not stop there: the illusion of dance has too been enhanced past its ethereal state and can now be improved or altered by means of faking it.

For example, the mechanics of classical ballet can be aided by the use of commercially available prosthetic arches which can be used to improve the appearance of the foot in a pointe shoe. There are not many methods for modifying or ‘faking’ ballet, simply due to the fact that social historical context dictates that classical ballerinas wear costumes to reveal their strength, artistry and technical talent, and also due to the role of the critic. Despite this, the shape of the foot can be enhanced, having worked the correct muscles in the first place. Some dancers are fortunate, with a high instep and strong, flexible ankles, whereas for others this is something at the forefront of their wish list.

Some may argue that enhancing the line of the foot in this way is on a parallel to that of wearing false eyelashes to improve the look of the face, and give that “showbiz” look. Today there are a number of ways of improving the ballet experience in general, as shown by the product list of Dance Direct, for example. From a variety of shapes and designs of foot thongs, to gel pads to the latest snug over-the-pointe-shoe socks with suede leather toe caps, there is something for everyone to help fake it until you make it!

ISTD Faculty Changes Name

ISTD Logo

The South Asian Dance Faculty of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) has announced that it has officially changed its name to the Classical Indian Dance Faculty to more accurately reflect what it represents.

The change of name aims to reflect and acknowledge the preeminence of the generic name by which Bharatanatyam and Kathak – the two dance forms in which the ISTD offers examinations through the Faculty – are known widely in the UK, across the world and in India, the country of their origin. Following a research project and proposal from Akademi, South Asian Dance in the UK, at the time a new ISTD Faculty, was set up in 1999 to examine in Bharatanatyam and Kathak.

Professor Christopher Bannerman, ISTD Chairman, said, “It is a great pleasure to learn of the new name of the Classical Indian Dance Faculty of the ISTD. This work has enhanced and broadened the ISTD portfolio and we look forward to a bright future for the Faculty and its students.”

The announcement of the name change was greeted with applause at Misrana 2012, the Faculty’s increasingly popular classical Indian dance showcase, which was held on Sunday 4 November at the Lowry, Salford Quays.

As far as classical Indian dance is concerned, for around two decades the term ‘South Asian’ has been largely an official term and it is not much used where the dancing foot actually meets the dance floor in a class or rehearsal studio. In the 1990s, when the ISTD’s South Asian Faculty was initially created, it was used to talk about a group of dance forms and be inclusive of its practitioners who came from India, as well as other countries across South Asia.

The new name of the Faculty will also serve to include the future development of syllabi for examinations in other classical Indian dance forms, such as Odissi and Kuchipudi, which are rapidly gaining ground in Britain.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hairspray the Musical on Tour!

Hairspray the Musica

Hairspray the musical, full of big hair and big laughs will be going on tour again in 2013, and the 60s dresses, the cans of hairspray and the loud-and-proud, rather catchy soundtrack, will all be going too.

Mark Benton will be playing the cross-dressing role of Edna Turnblad, with other casting to date including Lucy Benjamin (Lisa Fowler from EastEnders) playing Velma Von Tussle and Freya Sutton (who has recently graduated from Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts) playing Tracy Turnblad. The cast will be joined by X Factor finalist Marcus Collins as Seaweed Stubbs, Gemma Sutton as Amber Von Tussle, Lauren Hood as Penny Pingleton, Sandra Marvin as Motormouth Maybelle, Josh Piterman as Corny Collins and Paul Rider as Wilbur Turnblad. Link Larkin, Tracy’s squeeze, is yet to be cast but already the show looks like not one to be missed!

Hairspray is based on the 1988 film comedy starring Ricki Lake as Tracy. The musical takes place in 1962 with Baltimore’s Tracy Turnblad as a large girl with big hair and an even bigger heart who desperately wants to dance on The Corny Collins Show, sponsored by Ultra Clutch Hairspray. She wins a spot on the show which is a local television programme, and becomes a teenage celebrity overnight. This glory is faced with the indignation of the programme’s reigning princess Amber Von Tussle, complete with matching dress, shoes and handbag, whose overbearing mother Velma produces the show. The girl on the show who gets the highest popularity rating will be crowned Miss Teenage Hairspray – and Amber wants the crown that Tracy seems destined to win.

Hairspray will be touring to Salford, Sunderland, Bradford, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Nottingham, Dublin, Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Norwich from 11 February to 29 September 2013.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

U.Dance 2013

U.Dance 2013

Calling all talented young dancers!

U.Dance 2013 is searching for high quality individual or group dance pieces that deserves to be showcased at a top level youth dance festival next year. Get your leotards out and get practising!

New for 2013, there is now a chance for individuals or groups (of up to 30 dancers) with pieces of up to 20 minutes in length to apply to take part in U.Dance 2013 under a new strand launching this year called U. Dance New Dimensions.

This exciting event will be different from previous national festivals where dancers performed at one venue; this time dance work will be showcased across a variety of venues to show the breadth of youth dance choreography and performance the UK has to offer. U.Dance New Dimensions will mean that pieces can embrace a more experimental approach and push boundaries of what is expected of ‘youth dance’.

U.Dance 2013, Youth Dance England’s national youth dance festival will be taking place in Leeds in July 2013. The festival will give some of the best youth dance groups in the UK the opportunity to perform in high-profile venues across the city at the only event of its kind. Performers will be able to take part in workshops across a range of styles with leading artists and inspirational teachers in prestigious dance studios. Groups, duets and individuals will be able to perform on an evening in one of Leeds’ main dance venues such at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet/Phoenix Dance and Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

This is a great opportunity to showcase your own or your group’s work with fewer restrictions on group size and length of piece and more room for high quality, unique and experimental performances, allowing performers and choreographers more freedom when creating their pieces.

Applications close on the 30th November 2012.

Image courtesy of U.Dance.

Flawless Set to Appear in Bristol Panto

Flawless

Flawless, famous by the hit TV show Britain’s Got Talent, is heading to Bristol on December 7 2012 to take part in Aladdin at the Hippodrome, pulling on their festive costumes and thinking ‘panto time’!

The street dance sensations will star alongside Carol McGiffin, Josie Gibson and Andy Ford in this family pantomime which will run from December 7 – January 6 2013, complete with all the audience’s favourite pantomime gags and a special injection of street dance talent from Flawless, starring as the Peking Police Squad.

The group shot to fame by competing in the third series of Britain’s Got Talent where they wowed both audiences and judges alike, even winning the notorious Simon Cowell over. Since then the eight members have rocketed to stardom having appeared in the popular StreetDance films and most recently headlined alongside Kylie Minogue at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert. In addition to this, the group featured in the Paralympic opening ceremony 2012 and will be making an appearance on an upcoming results show of this season’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Flawless has also collaborated with English National Ballet earlier this year on their production of Against Time – a fusion of street dance and ballet which dazzled audiences – as well as their own successful 110 date tour Chase the Dream. Aladdin at the Bristol Hippodrome will mark their pantomime debut.

Kevin Wood, Chief Executive of the pantomime producers First Family Entertainment said: “We are thrilled to have secured Flawless to join the cast of Aladdin and look forward to them adding a modern twist to our traditional family pantomime…we have worked extremely hard in securing the boys to give South West audiences the best show ever”.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Dancewear for the Zumba Party

Zumba

The Zumba craze has well and truly taken hold of the fitness and dance world, shaking up a storm and providing fun and fabulous calorie-burning workouts as a mix of dance and aerobic routines. Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez during the 1990s. This music is the key ingredient to Zumba classes, where the score, created with specific beats and tempo changes, transforms the workout from one toning, strengthening or cardio move to another, targeting every major muscle group in the body. With the energy of the Latin beat, and the structured workout Zumba classes give you the ultimate non-workout exercise regime.

The next step on the Zumba ladder is working out what is best to wear for a class. Zumba is a high performance activity and it demands high performance clothing, and the dancewear industry has done a huge amount of researching and developing fabrics that stretch and breathe. Suitable for both men and women partakers in Zumba are jazz pants or leggings and close fitting dance tops which accentuate movement and allow teachers to see the dancers’ movements clearly, available in a huge array of colours and styles. Capezio dance tops in particular provide a clean cut look, and their jazz pants are also available in a drawstring design.

Bloch dance trainers and sneakers are also great options for Zumba classes, light, breathable, and designed for high impact dance. The trainers come in a great range of colours, and leather and canvas designs with features that make them ideal for the activity. They provide excellent grip, a ‘spin-spot’, split soles, are shock absorbing and lightweight, with many designs suitable for the whole class. Get your own and join the party!