Land Like a Dancer

Land Like a Dancer

Transcript from the video Published July 2014 -
NYU Langone's Harkness Center for Dance Injuries (HCDI) performed a study on the biomechanics of jump landing, comparing athletes and dancers to learn more about the incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in both groups. From this study, HCDI has been able to identify training methods that dancers implement early on that can be useful to athletes who experience a higher rate of ACL injuries than dancers.

The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries was founded in 1989 in partnership with the Harkness Foundation for Dance and Hospital for Joint Diseases in response to the New York dance community's critical need for specialized and affordable health care. They are committed to offering a variety of affordable healthcare options, from free preventive screenings to subsidized and sliding fee-scale injury management systems.

To learn more about Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, visit

 My comments could help the reader to understand that athletic needs are sometimes quite different to dancers needs. However, the correct way to land is of paramount importance in dance safety. When I designed the original split sole Jazz Shoe in 1987 I incorporated a poron insole. This was the first time that such protective materials had been used in dance footwear. That was followed by many styles of split sole shoes culminating in the Hullachan nearly 20 years ago. Why? This was to help protect the dancer from impact injury through jumping or leaping and landing on the ball of the foot. I had been connected to dance for a long time but I was trained as a ballet dancer and started in my mother’s school at age 2. I gravitated to understanding the bio mechanics of the dancer quite early and in designing a shoe that helped protect the dancer arose through this understanding of correct technique in how the body functions in dance. I would like to quote a paragraph from an article written by Ric Studer that more or less explains this need for understanding the landing:

"You either learn how to do it right or not. Research in cognitive science shows us that the brain is sophisticated enough to effortlessly create neural pathways that tell the body how to land whenever it jumps, regardless of the circumstance. With repetition the entire leaping process becomes one continuous action, triggered by the jump. Landing on an unanticipated surface is another thing entirely and is obviously more prevalent in a situation of density of uneven surfaces. So there is a greater threat of injury for athletes than dancers, but primarily for physical rather than purposeful reasons."

Dancers have one advantage over athletes on the field in that they have (more or less ) one type of flat surface on which to land. Teachers can therefore understand and develop the necessary bio mechanical functions of the dancers technique in landing safely. However, a badly fitted shoe, an old shoe that has stretched or a secondhand shoe can all be reasons for an incorrect landing and subsequent injury. Why? This was explained to me over 25 years ago by a former principle dancer at New York City Ballet. When the shoe is in your foot and you feel the shoe, if the shoe twists through being stretched or too big, you can get a false feeling that makes you 'THINK' that the foot is in the right position for landing but if the foot is actually following the fit then the foot can actually twist slightly to follow the shoe itself and thus causing a faulty landing. No matter how imperceptibly that deviation can result in a faulty landing and therefore injury.

The You Tube video clip has been removed. Hopefully it will be soon reinstated.