Strength and Conditioning is Unnecessary!
If the Strength Coaches walked out of all the Sports Teams in the world. Sport would continue to be played. Same is true of Dance. Dancers have managed to get to pretty astonishing levels without ever so much as stepping foot in the gym.
Ahhhhh Gotcha... although it is still true. Applying perspective to this very inflammatory point of view is important... If we were to compare two Dancers or Sports Players. On one hand, PERSON A is quite literally a Master of their Art but had no gym training whatsoever and PERSON B is a physical specimen but focussed solely on being the best in the gym and did not give much time to technique, then we all know which one would be more successful.
A great example of this is in Sprinting where Gym performance does not dictate the outcome on the track. The same is true in Dance. Dancers will still be extremely skilled and successful even if they do not take part in S&C. However, there is a flip side to this.
These points include: Longevity, Health, Pain, Overall Wellbeing.
The old conversation in Dance Science about what influences performance is both specific and general in its nature. Given that Dancing is a skill, and one where Excellence is based upon subjective feedback, it is difficult to create a list of attributes with quantified details to establish exactly what it takes to be great at Dance. We know there are physical attributes including: Balance, Jumping and Flexibility but again these skills are still specific. For example, balancing in specific positions for Ballet is skill specific and does not necessarily correlate with the balance that a Team Sport Athlete demonstrates. Therefore, when we are looking for the silver bullet of Dance Performance we need to analyse Dance movement on its own in context.
As it stands we have Dance Coaches and Teachers who are experts in the field of enabling and facilitating an individual to achieve movements. With the influx of Sport Science we have physical methods of increasing flexibility and muscular strength and power to further enhance the aesthetic. However, for the past few centuries Dance has survived and thrived without this input.
Dancers will continue to push the boundaries of the human body, even if S&C and Dance Science did not exist.
The point of this article?
The numbers and scores in the gym do not matter. The weight on the bar, the number of reps completed and the intensity of it all does not bare significance on the output naturally selected Talent in the room in the short term.
The gym and S&C serves a deeper purpose beyond the superficial. The Scores and Weights used just serve as a purpose for S&C to justify its own existence.
We all know the world and careers of Dance are pretty rough terrain, a bit like mountain range kind of rough. If we think of the animals and tools the native Nepalese use to scale the terrain and the animals they use to transport their stock and everyday needs. We think of Donkeys, maybe a yak, perhaps a solid Cart? Perhaps on the roads of the villages and surrounding areas you see a JEEP or some other sort of SUV.
We definitely do not see flash cars and ergonomically designed equipment, similarly the natives do not transport their equipment on Cheaters or Leopards. These are high performing examples that are not built to withstand rough terrain.
In the mountains robustness is king. Adequately adapted tools for the surrounding area.
S&C is about building these tools to allow Dancers to withstand the undulating inevitability of a career in Dance. If we were solely focus on the specifics of performance in the weight room we are doing our athletes a disservice. Leave that to the coaches of Dance to improve the skills of the Dancer. If we change our title of S&C Coaches to High Performance Coach then this may more accurately display that we are effective in helping individuals be at their best to perform their Art/Sport.
A small aside... but a relevant point is slightly more nitty gritty.
The point of Strength training is to drive systemic change through hormonal and neurological response. This is especially true in Dance. Hormones are the drivers for most of the positive change we experience in athletic performance. Whether it is their function, excretion or how they interact without the hormone stimulation we cannot have changes in muscle strength and power, whole body function or improvements in the function of connective tissue. Similarly, the body becomes robust through its exposure to load. A simple of example of this is in Bone. Wolf's Law determines that the loading of skeletal structures stimulates improvement in Bone Mineral Density. Dance, on its own, does not provide the necessary stimulus to make these positive changes that influence longevity and robustness for Dancers.
The weight, the exercise and the sets are almost irrelevant. What matters is a progressive stimulus that allows the body to recover to a higher point. Thats the point of S&C.