Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 3-20-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kinesiology and Health

First Advisor

Dr. Feng Yang

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Ellis

Third Advisor

Dr. Madeleine Hackney

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Pey-Shan Wen

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Brett Wong


Falls and associated injuries are common in older adults. Dance-based interventions may be appealing options for improving balance and reducing falls in this population. Ballet emphasizes whole-body coordination and postural control, yet it is unknown if ballet practice is associated with reduced falls. The purposes of this study were to examine 1) how older ballet dancers react to an unexpected slip during standing on a treadmill compared to non-dancers, 2) if older dancers adapt to repeated treadmill standing-slips more quickly than non-dancers, and 3) if ballet practice is associated with an improvement in transfer of fall resistant skills from standing-slips to a gait-slip on the treadmill. Twenty older ballet dancers and 23 age- and sex-matched non-dancers were recruited. All participants experienced 16 standing-slips and one gait-slip on the same treadmill while full-body kinematics and bilateral leg muscle activities were recorded. Primary (dynamic gait stability) and secondary (slip outcome: fall vs non-fall, recovery stepping variables, trunk angle and angular velocity, leg muscle electromyography latency) outcomes were compared between groups. The results suggest older dancers are more stable and experience fewer falls than non-dancers in response to the first standing-slip, and dancers adapt at a faster rate to repeated standing-slips. Dancers also showed more transfer of fall resistant skills acquired from standing-slips to the gait-slip. The findings could provide insight into the neurobiomechanical mechanisms behind the association between ballet practice and reduced falls in older adults. This knowledge could also establish a basis for applying ballet as an intervention to prevent falls for older adults.


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