The Royal Ballet School announces cutting-edge healthcare partnership with researchers from the University of Essex
As one of the world’s greatest centres of excellence for classical ballet training, The Royal Ballet School is committed to unlocking further advances in performance science. As we work to nurture healthy, strong and resilient dancers fit for the stage and beyond, we’re pleased to announce a partnership with the University of Essex, bringing dance to the forefront of sports science.
Scientists from the University will study our students to discover how elite sports techniques like targeted weight training can improve dancers’ strength to ‘reduce the risk of injuries while improving performance.’ The research findings will complement the work of our Healthy Dancer Programme, helping to provide insights into how the School can better optimise dancer development and training.
This study is led by Strength and Conditioning Coach Jamie Harding, who is working with the University of Essex to complete his PhD. On the cutting-edge research, Jamie said:
Ballet is unique in that it is an aesthetic art and a high-performance sport – with exacting competing demands. Dancers perform feats that are unimaginable to mere mortals and our research will make sure their bodies are up to the gruelling demands.
The world of ballet training is changing and I’m excited to help develop sports science in this elite world. Through this research, we’ll help The Royal Ballet School optimise training techniques to ensure our students can maximise their undeniable potential.
The study will focus on how strength training can support young dancers to rehearse and perform safely and effectively as they mature. Researchers will conduct five studies which will finish in early 2025. Supervisor and Programme Lead at the University of Essex’s School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, Dr Louis Howe, said:
Elite dancers face similar physical challenges to those of elite athletes, and it’s essential that they possess the physical preparedness necessary to withstand the associated stresses. That’s where strength and conditioning support can be helpful, as it can reduce the risk of injuries while improving performance.
Our research aims to find the best ways to optimize the techniques used by practitioners to achieve these goals. Ultimately, we hope our findings will help elite dancers improve their physical preparedness and reach their peak performance levels.
At The Royal Ballet School, we invest in the long-term health of our students by embedding research into our world-class Healthy Dancer Programme. The programme is managed by a world-leading team of 20 healthcare professionals, comprising clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, performance nutritionists, sports physicians, strength and conditioning coaches, sports physicians, Pilates instructors, counsellors and nurses. The programme collects data on dancers to create individualised programmes to support their physical and psychological health, helping them to balance academic studies with the demands of full-time training.
Karen Sheriff, Head of Healthcare at The Royal Ballet School, said:
Research is hugely integral to us as a world-leading organisation. It helps us to answer specific performance questions, develops our practice and enhances our scientific understanding of our young dancers so that we can identify the most effective ways to support them as athletes.
We choose to work with elite research partners to achieve this goal, and we are incredibly excited by our partnership with the University of Essex.
We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this partnership with the University of Essex in enhancing classical ballet healthcare.