Book Review – Safe Dance Practice: An Applied Dance Science Perspective

Reviewed by Sarah Beck, Healthier Dancer Programme Manager (Part-time), Dance UK

by Edel Quen, Sonia Rafferty, and Charlotte Tomlinson.

With application and accessibility at its core, Safe Dance Practice has succeeded in creating a highly valuable resource for all those teaching, leading, and participating in dance.

Yoshi SBX, participant of PHD All Styles dance battle 2014. Photography by Robin Chaves.

The book consists of 11 chapters, each highlighting a fundamental principle to be considered, including: the dance environment, alignment, warming up and cooling down, training principles and supplementary fitness, rest and recovery, sequencing and progression, nutrition and hydration, psychological well-being, injury awareness and management, adaptations for specific populations, and evaluating and appreciating safe dance practice. While some of these chapter titles may seem like well covered ground in both media and previously available resources, it is encouraging to see less frequently discussed topics sitting alongside those frequently in the spotlight.

Personally I am glad to see a whole chapter on rest and recovery, as this is something we need to seriously start to consider in creating realistic rehearsal and performance schedules for dancers. At Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme we frequently get queries from members regarding dancing through pregnancy; this topic is also well covered within the book with specific advice given regarding activity at each stage of pregnancy, joint and muscle health, environmental factors, nutrition, psychological considerations, and returning to dance post pregnancy.

The authors do a great job throughout of balancing theory, anecdote, experience, and recommendations, so as to not overwhelm the reader. Arguably, this combination also makes this a valuable resource for those with varying levels of prior dance science knowledge and not merely pitched as an introductory text. That said, there is a huge amount of detail available in the book and specific recommendations do stand out for ease of implementation, for example: a sample risk assessment for dance sessions (p.20), recipes for homemade sports drinks (p.146), a detailed table of the breakdown of activities in each stage of the dance session (p.132), and a sample script for relaxation exercise (174). Shaded boxes highlight key points throughout and each chapter begins with learning objectives and a list of key terms.

It is encouraging that Safe Dance Practice recognises dance at all levels of participation, for all ages, and in any dance genre. Although research in dance science largely focuses on vocational and professional ballet and contemporary dance, the authors recognise the impact of principles of dance medicine and science outside of these specific applications and extrapolate findings to the wider sector, using their extensive knowledge and experience.

The authors summarise the importance of the themes discussed in the book perfectly when they state: “Benefits of increased understanding of safe dance practice principles will include a more knowledgeable community where dancers and dance leaders can be confident that regardless of style, situation or ability level, individual performance potential is optimised and injury risk is minimised.” (p.xiv).

The authors gave a live webinar Safe Dance Practice: Enhancing Participation for Human Kinetics on Wednesday 29 July 2015, which can now be viewed at:

Safe in Dance International (SiDI) offer Continued Professional Development (CPD) opportunities and certification in safe dance practice. For more information please visit:

Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme Talks are CPD accredited through SiDI and the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET).

Originally published in Dance UK  magazine, Issue 90 – Autumn 2015