Moira McCormack is a physiotherapist who has specialised in ballet and works with the dancers of the Royal Ballet Company. She is a former professional dancer herself.
Based at the ISEH her research interests are in hypermobility, classical ballet, injury prevention and performance enhancement. Assessment of joint laxity in dancers requires a thorough and specific scoring system and her PhD studies will develop this.
An international survey will ascertain the main physical attributes sought by the profession, in the classical ballet dancer.
Following this, a specific scoring system for joint laxity in dancers will be developed which will examine the factors that influence range of movement - both bone shape and collagen laxity.
Currently audition screens used by dance institutions are not validated. Neither are current hypermobility screens thorough enough to inform efficiently on the dancer’s physique.
An effective and sensitive musculoskeletal scoring system can inform the assessor and dancer by building a profile from which it is possible to select for suitability for the profession.
The second part consists of creating a movement control assessment tool which examines function and biomechanics. Faults that lead to instability and injury can be clearly defined and interventions planned for strength, control and proprioception.
The project will provide physiotherapists with improved tools with which to assess dancers’ physiques, inform on training, advise artistic management, educate dancers and prevent injury.
Research will take place at the ISEH and the Royal Opera House with professional dancers of the Royal Ballet.