Can we work together to maximise the performance of both dancers and athletes?

From Dance Informa.

Improving performance fitness and stamina, preventing injury and decreasing recovery time is something professional athletes and dancers have in common. Co3, a flagship contemporary dance company in Perth, and the West Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS), have entered into an innovative partnership to maximise the performance of athletes and dancers. Dance Informa spoke with Sacha Fulton, physiologist at WAIS, and Co3 Executive Director Richard Longbottom to find out more.

Co3 dancers at WAIS. Photo by Emma Fishwick.

“Raewyn Hill, our artistic director, has always been interested in devising new ways of supporting the training and development of the dancers within the company,” Longbottom says. “The initial residency was around collaboration and exchange, giving our dancers exposure to some of the best training facilities, coaches and programs in the country. And as well, it was a chance for WAIS staff and athletes to see a contemporary dance company in action and to stimulate dialogue around the athleticism required of contemporary dancers. During the week, our dancers also had the opportunity to share some training with athletes, including time with the synchronised swimming team, the diving team, a swimming session and with the gymnastics squad.”

He adds, “We did have some exciting results from when our dancers joined in a session in the diving pool. One of our team had a bit of an interesting entry into the water. Not quite as smooth as it could have been.”

Longbottom says that dancers were impressed by WAIS, that it was clear that it was set up as a centre focused on the well-being of athletes. He says there were “amazing facilities, expert coaches, nutritionists and support teams. Everything was set up to maximise the potential of the athletes who trained there, in order for them to hone their skills necessary to compete at the highest level. The conversation continues around learning and sharing training methods, and performance preparation and psychology.”

Drawing on the scientific expertise gathered over many years at WAIS means the dance community may not have to duplicate research transferable from an athletic context to a dance context. There is potential for this collaboration to change daily practice and industry standards for training and supporting dancers.

Photo by Emma Fishwick.

“WAIS and Co3 see a bright future for this collaboration,” says Fulton. “In the future, Co3 dancers will attend WAIS on a weekly basis for a yoga session, which will also be opened up to all WAIS staff and athletes. In return, the Co3 dancers will be able to use some of the WAIS facilities, such as the Recovery Centre.”

Fulton continues, “The level of fun and enjoyment from both the Co3 dancers and the WAIS athletes was a pleasant surprise.”

The benefits of learning other forms of physical training to support your primary practice are well known; learning contrasting movement styles helps clarify each style or form. This collaboration between WAIS and Co3 sets the stage for other similar collaborations and knowledge sharing across the country.

 

For more information, visit Co3 at co3.org.au and West Australian Institute of Sport at www.wais.org.au

Images by Emma Fishwick.

INTERVIEW: Zoe Wozniak on Co3’s week at WAIS

Last week we embarked on a new partnership with the West Australian Institute of Sport High Performance Service Centre (WAIS). Under our Artistic Director, Raewyn Hill, Co3 has been able to work with athletes and trainers to implement innovative and varied approaches to training and improving elite performance outcomes.

Alongside regular dance rehearsals, Co3 opened up their daily yoga classes to WAIS as well as movement sessions for athletes. Over the course of the week the dancers observed some of WA’s best athlete’s in training, making use of the extraordinary facilities and expert staff.

Co3 dancer, Zoe Wozniak, gives us an insight into what they got up to at WAIS and how dancers and elite athletes are not so different.

 

Who did you work with at WAIS?

We had a huge week working with different athletes and observing their training.  We had lessons in the pool with the synchronised swimming team and a session with the swimming coach.  We had time in the pool with the diving coach and were able to observe the divers practicing.  We also took the gymnasts through a short ballet class and then they took us through their circuit training.  We were very busy indeed!  There were always athletes working out in the gym near us and the pole-vaulters and javelin throwers would train in the day as well.  It was awesome to be able to watch the athletes train and even more so to get the opportunity to get in the pools or on the floor with them and their trainers!

 

Did many athletes take part in the open yoga classes?

Yes!  Each morning when we started the day with our warm up yoga class, both athletes and WAIS coaches joined us.  It was really nice to have them share that time with us and join in on a practice that is very important to Co3 and the way we work.

 

What was their reaction to having a dance company at the facility?

I think everyone was very interested and curious about what we were doing there.  Our tarkett was set up in the main area of the basketball court so we really had a sense of being immersed in the facility with lots of training happening around us.  From having conversations with the athletes and coaches who took class with us or who we spoke to in the building, they asked lots of questions about who we were and what we were doing, so in this sense it was really exciting to be able to share with them what Co3 is and the reasons for our partnership with WAIS.  They were extremely supportive and we felt very welcome in their space.

 

How do you think dance and sport overlap?

Dance and sport both take commitment, passion, resilience and discipline.  I believe that they both take a lot of time and practice and it’s something in which we find our joy, challenges and incredible rewards.

 

Why is it important for Co3 to go to WAIS and train like athletes?

It was quite an incredible week for all of us and it marked the start of a special partnership and conversation with WAIS.  For myself personally it was amazing and important for Co3 to be in the WAIS environment surrounded by people who train at the highest level, it was really inspiring actually.

It made sense for us to be there and as Co3 has such a strong passion to change the conversation around the dancer who is both an artist and an athlete, so WAIS is the perfect environment to cultivate this relationship.

Both Co3 and WAIS have something to offer and share with each other.  It is not only about the training, but also a huge part of the conversation is about recovery.  WAIS has a recovery centre, which was a major part of our time there at the end of each day, dedicating time to use the recovery pools.  As dancers we do not have these facilities at our fingertips in our studios, so it was such a treat to use these and our bodies felt the benefits.

 

Images by Emma Fishwick.

Dance company director starts ‘art vs sport’ conversation

 

Co3 Artistic director Raewyn Hill started a conversation about “art vs sport” with the WA Institute of Sport (WAIS) last week.

Dancers from the King Street-based company, including Mitchell Harvey from Wembley Downs and Mt Lawley resident Zoe Wozniak, spent the week with WAIS athletes, divers, synchronised swimmers and gymnasts.

Ms Hill said she was passionate about the similarities between art and sport and how they could be integrated in to her dance program.

“What’s been amazing for the dancers is they’re beginning to understand and the concept makes more sense to them,” the Shenton Park resident said.

“Courage, determination, tenacity and discipline are all common to dancers and athletes.

“In some ways we can feel quite isolated so it’s been amazing for the dancers to be around the athletes and realise they’re similar sorts of people.”

Yoga is one form of training the two disciplines have in common.

Javelin throwers Luke Cann, of Floreat, and Cruz Hogan, of Kallaroo, have at least one yoga class a week.

Mr Hogan said dancing and throwing a javelin involved timing, getting in to position and finesse.

“We count in the back of our mind just not the same way dancers do,” he said.