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Irish Dance Training Research Support

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

How do you know your conditioning training is actually helping you? It’s scientifically proven! But what does that mean? 

I’m an undergraduate student working on my last year at Minerva Schools. In the past four years, I’ve studied biology and lived five semesters abroad. Before, I Irish danced competitively in Richmond, Virginia. Through 15 years of dance, I’ve loved performing, competing, meeting people, and being curious about how dance uses the body.

Irish dance research

I’m now working on a project compiling academic research on Irish dance training and injuries and conducting survey research about conditioning training used by dance schools. My goal is to see how dance schools incorporate conditioning and why conditioning works. Despite historical concerns about youth strength training, research now shows strength training, especially related to improving technique, reduces injury rates in young athletes (Faigenbaum & Myer, 2010). Coaching on correct technique like in Target Training videos is the largest factor determining whether conditioning training helps young athletes.  And I need the help of Irish dancer teachers - see below for how you can help in less than 5 minutes!

Luckily, I have not had any major injuries, but like all dancers, plenty of my friends have. We sometimes joked about how dance would affect our joints and muscles when we were older, but we had no clue if that was true. Despite many years immersed in Irish dance and learning about the body, I still didn't know if it is true. I decided that before I graduate, I would learn more about how exercise and training affect dancers especially during years when our bodies are developing.

As I looked for published Irish dance research, I learned that from a sample of dancers at the 2004 NANs, 125/159 dancers (79%) had experienced a dance-related injury (McGuinness and Doody, 2006). The same survey found injury prevention methods including warm-ups and cool-downs decreased the incidence of injury.  

I’ll be doing a series of blog posts so you can follow along and learn about conditioning and research in Irish dance. Dance is a great way to practice curiosity (can I do that rhythm? Can it go in a treble reel?) and research extends that curiosity (Is dance training different from football training?). My hope is that by sharing about my research process you can also learn more about the science of conditioning for Irish dance.


CLICK HERE to take my Conditioning Training Survey



Irish dance strength and conditioning, Irish dance research


Hi! My name is Maggie Hartigan. I’m an Irish dancer and university student. I’ve tied together these two identities by focusing my senior research paper on Irish dance conditioning. Especially since going to university, I’ve focused more on dance conditioning because it’s harder to get access to a studio regularly. Many college dancers can relate and I’ve taken this to the extreme by doing 5 semesters abroad! 

My research project is looking at how conditioning training is incorporated into dance schools and how that affects injury and performance. This survey asks about the first part of that topic (how are warm-ups, strength training, and flexibility exercises incorporated into Irish dance classes?). I’m seeking responses from dance teachers about practices in their school. I’d be very grateful for responses to the survey or questions about the project. 

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