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From injury to performance

Posted on April 20, 2011

angela towler helen laws denise lewis. photo sally brookercrop

angela towler helen laws denise lewis. photo sally brookercropOlympic gold medallist and “Strictly” star Denise Lewis and Rambert dancer Angela Towler were among those highlighting the need for comprehensive medical support for dancers and athletes at a conference organised by Dance UK and the Royal Society of Medicine.


On April 4, leaders in the fields of sports and dance medicine shared their expertise at the sold-out conference From injury to performances: Lessons to share in dance and sports. It was attended by dancers, medical practitioners and therapists. In these two high-performance environments, injury is a constant risk. Every year, 80 per cent of dancers suffer at least one injury that affects their ability to dance.


Denise Lewis, who was a finalist on “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2004, said:


“Getting the right kind of world class sports medicine support when I needed it was essential to achieving what I have in my career. It was great to be a part of the Dance UK /RSM conference and see practitioners from sports and dance sharing best practice in order to learn from one another to enhance the medical care of athletes and dancers. I couldn’t help but wonder how much longer I might have been able to compete at world class level, had there been the research, knowledge and multidisciplinary collaboration developing now, back in the earlier days of my career.”


Angela Towler, who described her own experience of injury in the April issue of Dancing Times, also spoke at the conference: “I would like to see a centre where you can get quicker diagnosis… get from A to B quicker, with a psychologist on hand to help and a team to create a complete programme for recovery.”


An increasing number of medical practitioners are working with both athletes and dancers. The conference aimed to provide them with an opportunity to share expertise, addressing the causes, impact, effective prevention and management of injuries.


Dance UK is currently fundraising to establish a national institute of dance medicine and science, giving dancers access to the specific healthcare and support services they need, equivalent to those enjoyed by elite athletes and dancers in the largest ballet companies. To date, Dance UK has raised £120,000, with major investments from the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, British Harlequin plc, Society of London Theatres, Theatrical Management Association and Trinity College London. To donate, please visit The Big Give site here:


Picture: Angela Towler, dancer Rambert Dance Company, Helen Laws Dance UK Healthier Dancer Programme Manager, Denise Lewis OBE Olympic gold medallist. Photograph: Sally Brooker.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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