Complete Irish Dancer: Optimization of Health and Performance in Irish Dancers


Series: Sports and Athletics Preparation, Performance, and Psychology
BISAC: ART060000

Irish dancing has emerged as a leading genre among the pantheon of world dance forms. Few traditional art forms have resonated so deeply with the international community, resulting in the establishment of thousands of Irish dancing schools across the globe. Irish dancing is a unique fusion of the athletic and the aesthetic, stylistically distinctive and constantly evolving. At the elite level, it is a hugely competitive activity, placing enormous physical and psychological demands on the dancer, teacher, parent and healthcare professional. The exponential increase in these demands and the relentless calendar of prestigious Irish dancing competitions internationally has resulted in significant levels of injury and underperformance in these dancer athletes.

Unlike other more established dance forms such as ballet and contemporary dance, there is a lack of clear information and guidance related to the specific nature and demands of Irish dancing. This book will provide this information and guidance by drawing on best evidence and research-based findings and expertise from leading authorities in the world of dance science and anthropology, sport science, medicine, dietetics and psychology. The book is edited and co-authored by Dr. Róisín Cahalan, who is the world’s leading researcher of injury in Irish dancers. Dr. Cahalan is also a chartered physiotherapist with over a decade of experience treating Irish dancers of all levels, the former lead female dancer from “Riverdance: The Show” and an Irish dancing teacher and adjudicator with An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha.

The book will provide historical context for the growth and development of Irish dancing, insights into the etiology and epidemiology of Irish dance injury, and provide information and advice on appropriate preparation and environmental considerations for healthy Irish dancers. Chapters to enhance physical and psychological resilience and preparedness for the very specific demands of Irish dancing are presented. These include bespoke strength, conditioning and flexibility programs, goal-setting, managing competition anxiety, mental imagery and mindfulness, and sleep optimization. Appropriate training load prescription, tapering and the balance between rest and rehearsal will be explored, as will the most suitable diet to support the Irish dancer. Injury prevention, risk minimization and management are additionally discussed in the book. There is consideration given to the specific needs of certain dancer groups, such as the elite adolescent Irish dancer, the professional touring dancer, and the older dancer. The pivotal role of the parent in impacting the health and performance of the younger dancer is also explored.

This book will be an invaluable resource to all those persons involved in the management of Irish dancers including teachers, parents, choreographers, dance company managers, strength and conditioning personnel, clinical professionals and dancers themselves. It will provide scientifically robust, but practical and applicable advice and information to ensure longevity, peak-performance and holistic wellbeing in Irish dancers.
(Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents




Chapter 1. The Evolution of Irish Dancing
(Orfhlaith Ni Bhriain, PhD, and Roisin Cahalan, PhD, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 2. Injury in Irish Dancing: The State of the Art
(Róisín Cahalan, PhD, School of Allied Health, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 3. Preparation for Dance: Getting the Basics Right
(Edel Quin and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, Department of Dance, University of Chichester, Chichester, England, and others)

Chapter 4. Optimal Training for Dance Performance and Injury Prevention
(Scott Murphy and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, School of Allied Health, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 5. Supporting Psychological Wellness for Superior Performance
(Mark Campbell, PhD, Nollaig O’Sullivan and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 6. Periodization, Training Load Prescription and Monitoring
(Brenton Surgenor, Emma Redding, PhD, and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong, China, and others)

Chapter 7. The Importance of Sleep in Dance
(Kieran O’Sullivan, PhD, Róisín Cahalan, PhD, and Bronwyn Lennox Thomson, PhD, School of Allied Health, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 8. Nutrition for Irish Dancers
(Jasmine Challis, BSc, MRes, RD, Freelance Dietitian, London, England and Roisin Cahalan, PhD)

Chapter 9. Injury Management, Recovery and Return
(Róisín Cahalan, PhD, and Kieran O’Sullivan, PhD, School of Allied Health, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 10. The Adolescent Dancer: Special Considerations
(Amanda Johnson, PhD, and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, and others)

Chapter 11. Parental Role in Optimizing Dancer Wellness and Performance
(Camilla J. Knight, PhD, Lucie Clements, PhD, and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, Wales, and others)

Chapter 12. Challenges and Opportunities in Professional Irish Dancing
(Roisin Cahalan, PhD, and Padraic Moyles, School of Allied Health, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland, and others)

Chapter 13. The Older Irish Dancer: Maintaining a Long and Healthy Career
(Breandán de Gallaí, PhD, Thomas Comyns, PhD, and Róisín Cahalan, PhD, Artistic Director, Ériu Dance Company, Dublin, Ireland, and others)

About the Authors and Editors


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