Dance is a somewhat unique art form; virtually everyone knows that, and just like in every form of art, there's the background, the style, the medium, and very importantly, the instrument through which art is presented (Calais-Germain, 1993).
The body is a single instrument we use for dance presentations and expression. It also functions as the soul of a dancer and their dancing styles; the passion possessed by the dancer is unavoidably reflected in the body movements they make. And, what this means is, without full knowledge of how the tool works, a dancer might find it a bit difficult to stay in shape, increase their boldness, add spice to their presentations and have a lasting plus fulfilling career too.
In all, the understanding of human anatomy also helps the dancer or choreographer in organizing and presenting their performance well like; just they'd like to.
Typically, dancing is a delicate art form. So, comprehensive knowledge about the structure of the instrument it uses, the body, its peculiarities, and limitations are important in ensuring the dancer avoids injury and also quickly recovers from anyone they may pick up in any way.
To understand the anatomy of the body, one must first understand that every human body is unique. There are certain peculiarities and limits that each body has that every individual dancer must get themselves familiar with; especially the changes as they occur with time. In this article, we'll be providing you with some fundamental information about the musculoskeletal system of the body. This system is responsible for body movements and needs to be looked at to understand the anatomy of dancing itself.
Human Body Systems
Dance movements make use of two of the vital organs systems in the body, the skeletal and the muscular system. These organs work together to make dance movements possible. However, to study them in anatomy, we'd have to examine each one after the other to examine all the important functions they perform in the body (Carola et al. 1992).
Although, we seem to believe that the human organs responsible for physical movements are the muscles and the bones working to together seamlessly, however, in the real sense, all the 10 organs that consist it all work together to perform major functions and make the body and, possibly, one might not effectively function without the others in place. These organs systems are; Nervous System, Circulatory System, Respiratory System, Muscular System, Digestive System, Skeletal System, Reproductive System, Endocrine System, Excretory System, and the Lymphatic or Immune System.
All of them, as mentioned, work together seamlessly to perform major body functions. But to get the anatomy of dance, two (or three) systems are important to examine. These are:
1. The musculoskeletal system; which consists of the muscles and the bones, as mentioned before. This system is the primary organ for dancing and moving.
We also have the
2. The nervous system; and, this is made of three important parts. They are;
a. The central nervous system controlled by the spinal cord and brain.
b. The peripheral nervous system, consisting of tissues that are not enclosed within the cerebral column or skull. This includes the sensory organs and peripheral nerves responsible for stimulating different parts of the body.
c. And lastly, we have the autonomic nervous system that responsible for regulating the visceral activity which is completely involuntary.
The Muscular System
This organ system consists of the smooth, cardiac and skeletal muscles all over the body. The primary functions of these muscles are to provide mobility to other organs or parts of the body; the bones and limbs, or other organs such as the heart, circulatory system, stomach, and intestines.
One of the most important characteristics of the muscles is that they possess contractile fibers that contract and expand to enhance organ and body movements. This ability is what makes them highly efficient.
The dancer's core: this is the center or core of the dancer's body. This core arises when there's a balance or sync between the pelvic floor muscles, the back muscles, and abdominal muscles. This balance enhances the strength and stability of the dancer. In dancing, this is highly important is keeping control while dancing.
The diaphragm is one of the most important tissues used for breathing. This organ is also an important organ that helps a dancer to maintain good pose and retain control. It also helps to revitalize tissues. The intake of air is important in dancing; it builds the dancer’s energy for controlling the body.
The Skeletal System
As it is generally known, this organ system is made up of ligaments, tendons, cartilages, and bones. The system also performs three important functions.
1. It provides support for the body.
2. It provides a structure for the body.
3. It provides the body organs and muscles with attachment areas for the basis of movement.
4. Protects the delicate inner body organs from injuries.
Other functions include;
5. Function as reservoirs for mineral salts like calcium
6. Produce the red blood cells needed for the circulation of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the body tissues
Bones that majorly make up this system are categorized as:
1. Flat (includes the sternum and scapula)
2. Short (includes the navicular)
3. Long (includes the femur and ulna)
4. Sesamoid (includes the patella)
5. Irregular (includes vertebra and talus)
There’s a need to indicate human anatomy into most of the curricula in dance. The study of the body and also its system, how it works, is important in understanding dance patterns and movements. This will invariably help young dancers to understand the body concept and also form novel models, styles and forms to express themselves without having to upset or injure their body (Pengelly, 2010).
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