The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Athletic Artists Hit the Weights to Elevate Dance Abilities

Credit: Williston Flickr

Chances are if you go to Williston, you have had a lifting session with Coach Blayne Lapan in the athletic center. One of the most important parts of being an athlete is becoming stronger, and that all starts in the weight room, no matter what sport or activity you participate in.
Traditionally at Williston, varsity teams have a mandatory lifting session with Coach Lapan twice a week. This is to ensure our athletes maintain strong physical shape throughout the season. Williston recognizes that dance is both a sport as well as an art, so two years ago, the team began hitting the weight room just like every other team.
Lapan, Director of Sports Performance, believes lifting is as important for dancers as it is for other athletes in sports considered more traditional.
“To be a strong dancer you need to be incredibly explosive, strong, and have unbelievable coordination and athleticism,” he said. “A sound strength program can help improve all of these things. It can help dancers not only to jump higher, turn well, and have good balance, but also it can help prevent injuries. In dance, there are often many injuries to the ankles, hips, and knees. By getting on a quality sports performance/strength and conditioning program, we can decrease the likelihood that these injuries arise.”
Noel St. Jean, Director of Williston’s Dance Ensemble, has noticed a positive change in her dancers since they started lifting.
“l find that what I don’t see is more important,” she explained. “l don’t see as many injuries. I don’t see as much fatigue. I don’t see apprehensive dancers in the athletic center. By incorporating lifts, we have not only taken great strides in injury prevention, but also we have empowered the dancers to embrace the athleticism of their work.”
Unlike other athletes, dancers use every part of the body, so it benefits dancers to participate in different types of workouts. From bench press to front squats, they must work every muscle to improve their stability and strength.
According to OnPointe, a dance wellness website, dancers benefit from weight training because it increases “muscle strength, cardiovascular capabilities, muscular control and coordination, power, and speed.”
Soleil Richardson, senior captain of the Dance team, feels lifting has helped her become more powerful with her moves.
“l definitely feel stronger since starting lift,” she said. “I also feel more connected to my body and more in tune with what it needs because of the things that Coach Lapan has us working on.”
Soleil said the gains are not just physical.
“I am not only stronger physically but mentally,” she said. “When we are fighting to finish that last set, it helps for when we need to dig deep to run the dance one more time or more full out.”
Lifting for dancers is not only being recognized at Williston, but also many other schools and universities such as Fordham, University of Arizona, NYU, and UNC.
Lapan believes dance is becoming more popular in the lifting field.
“My best friend’s brother is a professional dancer and runs a college/school helping dancers who want to have careers in the dance world, and he often picks my brain and talks about the importance of strength and conditioning for this performing art.”

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    Ryan TomanocySep 28, 2023 at 9:25 AM

    Love this! Brilliant piece.

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    Russell GaudreauSep 23, 2023 at 11:21 AM

    Great article. So well written!