A new somatic environment: Quasi-quantitative study reveals water training as an effective method to increase dancer kinesthetic awareness

Sarah W Holmes


Data from a two-year study suggest that water training has similar effects to a somatic practice. The nature of this study questioned an underlying assumption that dancers understood how to appropriately engage their external rotation. Principal Investigator (PI) hypothesized that working with water as a cross-training method would both strengthen and increase the range of motion of femoral external rotation. Subjects (university dancers) underwent pre- and post-testing measurements (passive and active external rotation and internal rotation). The study consisted of twice a week, 30 to 45-minute water conditioning classes, for six weeks. Programs assisting in angle analysis and determining statistical significance, included: ImageJ, Microsoft Excel, and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software (SPSS IMB version 24). Qualitative data were processed by an open source Python package, Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) used specifically for text mining. The results reflected that quantitative measurement methods were not effective, indicating no statistical significance in increasing active or passive external rotation. PI observed an increase in perceived awareness of the subject’s external rotation through a qualitative survey. This affirmed PI hypothesis that water training augments kinesthetic awareness in much the same way as a somatic practice. This study encourages the use of water training to develop a dancer’s kinesthetic sensing by creating a positive learning experience that teaches body awareness in a new environment.


dance; water conditioning; somatic practice; external rotation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15282/mohe.v7i1.169