Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Rajiv V. Dubey


Dance, Knee Abduction, Knee Adduction, Knee Rotation, Motion Analysis


Dancers spend many years practicing repetitive movements in order for their bodies to gain flexibility, strength and muscle memory. This thesis investigated the biomechanics of a dance student's knee motion during a tendu to the front in first, third, and fifth positions. A dancer will often perform 75 or more tendu closing actions during one technique class - particularly in ballet technique. During a tendu the moving foot moves along the floor but the toes never leave the floor. The tendu is used to strengthen the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps and gluteal muscles. Flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, and rotation angles of the knees during a traditional flat footed closing were compared to the knee angles during pli#233; and relev#233; closing. These movements were performed by 10 healthy dance students from USF. The dancers' movements were tracked using the VICON Nexus motion analysis system and 27 passive reflective markers placed on bony landmarks. Visual 3D software was used to calculate the knee angles. There were statistically significant the differences between knee angles during the traditional and pli#233; closings and between the relev#233; and pli#233; closings for all positions. There were only 4 conditions in which there was statistical significance between traditional and relev#233; closings. Knee flexion difference between the traditional and relev#233; closings was unanticipated, as the expectation of the tendu movement is to maintain a fully straight knee throughout the full range. This result suggests that the students may be bending the knees to achieve greater outward rotation, particularly in the third and fifth positions. The pli#233; had the largest range of motion (ROM) for all of the angles tested including abduction/adduction in which the subjects used the abduction at the knee to hold the feet in a turned out position. The collected data gives better insight into the biomechanics of the knee movement and will be used as feedback for improving muscular strength and preventing injuries in dancers.

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