The nexus between warm up preparation and optimal performance

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Performing Arts Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Jonathan McIntosh

Second Supervisor

Renee Newman


Warm up is the term given to the preliminary activity aimed at enhancing performance and preventing injury (Volianitis et al., 2001) and is integral to dancers’ optimal engagement with rehearsals and overall performance. By investigating how dancers prepare for rehearsals, this research examines how preparation can optimise performance by targeting and tailoring warm up principles related to a specific choreographic process. Conducted using the seven-week, full-time creation process with Co3 (Western Australia’s resident contemporary dance company) as a case study, the research identifies the purpose and impact of targeted warm up practices. Drawing on self-reflective research and semistructured interviews, the research interrogates how professional dancers respond to warm up classes physically and mentally, and how this prepares them for optimal engagement with rehearsals. The research also considers the role of supplementary training for professional dancers and how it assists their holistic preparation. How companies and individual dancers plan and schedule their training and work is another key element that the research considers vis-à-vis the application and relevance of the sports periodisation model in a dance environment. The research is important to me personally as it has helped me to better develop my warm up practice that I will continue to adapt throughout my career. The research also contributes to the research field of warm up specific to dance and addresses gaps in applying principles of periodisation to dance. Through conducting the research, I gained new skills concerned with preparing myself for process in a holistic way and an understanding of considerations for planning and scheduling. These tools will assist in prolonging my career and resilience as a dancer because targeted preparation reduces risk of injury and optimises performance (Franklin, 2013). My personal reflections consider the warm up classes during Co3’s Architect of the Invisible (AOTI) and how I then engaged with rehearsals. The interviews conducted for this study also focused on dancers’ preference for the structure of warm up class, what dancers do prior to warm up to maximise their engagement, how ideas explored in class directly inform rehearsals and how dancers schedule their supplementary training.



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