Mirror Training and Balance Control in Collegiate Ballet and Contemporary Dance Students
By: Elizabeth Ruth Coker
Published: 5/18/2016
Uploaded: 06/06/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2016 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: balance, Dance, mirror training, postural control, proprioception, vision

Description/Abstract: Previous research has suggested that dancers' use of mirrors in training promotes a visual reliance that may inhibit adaptive use of proprioceptive input during balance. Although mirrors are often used in dance training to check form accuracy, it is unknown whether dancers' use of mirrors in the classroom affects balance performance in stage-like visual environments. Although evidence in athletic populations supports the idea that balance ability is task-specific and does not generalize to improved performance on unrelated balance activities, few studies assessing balance during dance have included dance-specific movements. This study seeks to better address practical issues affecting dance pedagogy by including both non-dance and dance-specific balance tasks and establishing methods for analyzing balance during dance-specific tasks. We tested balance performance under a variety of visual conditions in a group of collegiate dance students before and after participation in a four-week balance training program in which they practiced dance-specific tasks either in front of a mirror or with no mirror. We found that collegiate dance students demonstrated impaired balance in low light conditions as evidenced by increased COP mean velocity during both the static and dynamic dance tasks. Training did not significantly affect balance performance on either dance task, although mirror training increased performance consistency of the static dance task and these improvements were maintained in the low-light condition. Our results suggest that collegiate dance students demonstrate impaired balance in stage-like conditions, and a balance training program performed in studio-like conditions did not significantly affect balance performance. However, mirror training may improve performance consistency of a static dance tasks and these improvements can be maintained in stage-like conditions. Our findings do not support the current trend in dance pedagogy that suggests removing mirrors in the training environment in order to avoid the development of visual dependence, and we recommend further development of measures for dance-specific balance performance.