Dancing at home - Safety considerations
Due to heightened measures to control the spread of COVID-19, most dance schools/companies around the world have been shut, Singapore included. This has led to dance schools doing recorded classes for students to continue practicing at home, or live stream online classes. Social media is also full of class offerings, mostly free, from professional companies and independent dancers alike. While it is great to have these resources to continue some amount of dancing at home, we need to remember that it is not quite the same as in the studios, and there are some safety considerations to take note of.
Considering most people are now dancing in their bedroom, living room or even kitchen, it is safe to say most do not have the amount of space available in a studio. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the “dance space” is cleared of clutter which can potentially cause injury, like kicking or tripping, before starting a dance class/practice.
Additionally, do only the parts of class that can be safely done in a small space, like barre work and port de bras etc.
Possible “barres” include the backrest of a chair, kitchen countertop, shelf and window grill etc. However it has to be the right height, roughly the level of the hand in second position. Also ensure it is sturdy enough and will not topple over causing injuries from loss of balance.
Dance studios generally have sprung floors and dance mats. Home floors on the other hand are more likely to be cemented and tiled/parquet, sometimes carpeted, each posing its own problems.
Without sprung floors, repetitive jumping is not recommended due to the lack of shock absorption. Excessive jumping on a hard floor, especially big jumps, can lead to tendinopathy type injuries and stress fractures of the lower limb. It is better to practice some jumps in trainers instead, to keep the “jumping muscles” working, no battus though.
Compared to dance mats, tiled/parquet floors are very slippery. This makes turning difficult and potentially dangerous, with the risk of slipping and knocking over furniture. Carpet on the other hand has too much friction, risking twisting injuries to the knee and ankle. With limitations such as these, it is probably to concentrate on releves and balances, rather than turns for the moment.
What can/should be done
Firstly, do a good warm up. This can include moving the joints from head to toe, and doing some dynamic warm up.
Secondly, avoid jumps in ballet shoes. Do some jumps or go for a run in trainers if you feel a need to keep those muscles firing.
Thirdly, concentrate on releves and balances. If really needed, keep turns to singles and again concentrate on balance instead.
Lastly, do some conditioning work instead of dancing. This keeps the muscles working, and your body will thank you for it when the time comes to get back to the studio.