Elmhurst Ballet School introduces rehabilitation techniques

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Edgbaston-based Elmhurst Ballet School, in collaboration with University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham Royal Ballet, is attempting to pioneer ways for dancers to avoid injury by introducing fitness and rehabilitation techniques delivered by Performance Enhancement Coach Nico Kolokythas, a PhD student at University of Wolverhampton.

Fourteen months ago, Carlos Acosta, now Vice President of Elmhurst Ballet School, opened the school’s Health and Wellbeing Centre, which gives students access to a range of health services including nurses, doctors, physiotherapy, nutrition advice, dance psychology, strength and conditioning and performance enhancement coaching.

One case study is featured in a short film, Up the Spiral, which shows 2017 Elmhurst graduate Jade Wallace, a ballet category finalist in the recent BBC Young Dancer competition who turned to the Health and Wellbeing Centre due to severe ankle pain.

Kolokythas said, “we decided with Nick Allen, Clinical Director at Birmingham Royal Ballet, that in order to eliminate the possibility of an operation we had to use all possible means available to promote rehabilitation of a pain in the ankle for Jade.

"I worked with Jade to develop foundation strength in order to be able to push the boundaries. However, the rehabilitation was not a straight line upwards, we did have moments where pain simply came back and therefore a careful regression and progression strategy was applied.

"Our second aim was to debunk the myths around female dancers using weights and resistance training in general with the fear of losing the classical aesthetic look. Research-based practice in sport has shown that strength gains can be achieved without muscle size and this is clearly seen in Jade's physique.

"But the most important success is that we now have a dancer free of pain, who feels stronger, more confident with her body and feels her dance effortless.”