FSU maintains a cutting-edge conditioning studio. Photo by Meagan Helman, courtesy of FSU

When Florida State University professor Tom Welsh arrived in Tallahassee in 1991, dance science was uncharted territory. "Mostly, it was technique teachers who were looking for ways to keep their dancers dancing," he says. "It was just a field people imagined could happen." He immediately set to work building the university's dance science program from the ground up. Over the course of his 26 years at FSU, Welsh has created a successful dance science model, based on four elements: collaboration with physical therapists, a state-of-the-art conditioning studio, injury prevention and management initiatives and devoting time to research.

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Jeremy Smith and Yayoi Kambara

When Jeremy Smith, now with San Francisco's ODC/Dance, was a student at Florida State University, modern teacher Lynda Davis put him through his paces.

“Her classes were rigorous. One of her methods was to have us do the same phrase for long stretches of time, maybe 15–20 minutes for just one exercise. At the time it seemed crazy, but what ended up happening was that I built memory and endurance, and I started having more efficiency in my body. I learned to do things in the most practical manner.”

Smith stars as “The Boy” in ODC’s production of The Velveteen Rabbit running through Sunday, December 13, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco.

Photo by RJ Muna, courtesy of ODC/Dance

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