How to run the DFI©

The DFI Information Pack should be read first for the dance teacher/dancer to familiarise themselves. The DFI choreography can be learnt from the online DFI package through watching the video footage (both the taught sections and full run), and through reading the movement breakdown in the Information Pack.

Note: The DFI should be learnt beforehand, and should not be measured in the same session as it is learnt. Dancers who are injured or have had a recent viral infection should not take part.


Equipment required:

  • Suitable dance environment (clean sprung floor, temperature between 18.3-24°C).
  • Suitable dancewear/dance shoes/bare feet.
  • Water should be available to the dancer for hydration.
  • Printed performance handout for the dancer.
  • Printed movement criteria for the observer to complete (if applicable).
  • Heart rate monitor/other measurement equipment (optional).
  • Music system – music tracks should be set to play continuously (the music tracks have the 1-minute rest and 15-second heart rate timer recorded into the tracks).


How to run the DFI:

  • If comparing results, ‘test’ conditions should be kept as similar as possible (e.g. same time of day, same warm up, same dance studio etc).
  • Resting heart rate should be measured prior to warming up.
  • The dancer should warm up before commencing the DFI (increase pulse, activate muscles, mobilise joints, prepare for the movement to come).
  • The observer (if applicable) should be ready to make notes of the dancers’ physical performance based on the movement criteria.
  • Press play – the music will start with a 4 second (8 count) introduction. The music tracks should then be left to play continuously into the next. The music for each level will run for 4 minutes 32 seconds; the first section will run for 1 minute, with 4 seconds to re-set before commencing the next section. At the end of all four sections, the music continues for 16 seconds whilst the dancer holds the attitude balance. When the music has finished, there is a 1-minute rest (no music) before the next level begins.
  • At the end of each level, the dancer should be ready to measure their heart rate (for 15 seconds if manual, multiplied x4 for HR bpm) – the timing for this is included in each music track); the dancer should record their HR and RPE; the observer should note areas where dance quality is affected.
  • When the dancer has completed the DFI (or can no longer continue and withdraws), they must take time to cool down thoroughly. The dancer should not stop suddenly.
  • The dancer should reflect upon the experience of the DFI, in discussion with the observer if applicable, noting areas that require training for improvement.
  • The handouts should be kept as a record for comparison to measure improvement.


Areas of concern:

  • Perceived exertion is generally higher than desired.
  • General control of the body is poor (structural/control issues).
  • Lack of energy input/general aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
  • Lack of performance quality (full use of torso and extension of limbs/feet required).
  • Loss of height on leaps and jumps (aerobic/anaerobic fitness and power).
  • Lack of strength (press up and side plank).
  • Flexibility/ROM is poor.
  • Indicative motor skill deficiency: timing with music; speed of directional changes; poor balance; reduced ability to remember sequences.


The DFI in practice:

The DFI consists of four levels of intensity increment, however (if the dancer is very fit) it is possible to continue working at level four (the highest level) until the dancer can no longer perform at optimum standard or with correct technique. The indicator is then ceased and the dancer will note how long they have been able to continue, and any areas of difficulty/lack of physical performance. The accompanying music expresses an increase in intensity, aiming to motivate the dancer to do their best and to work to a maximum level of intensity for their current level of physical fitness.

By attempting the DFI, it is intended that a dancer will begin to understand and identify which elements of their physical fitness require attention/training to improve their physical dance performance.  The overall aim of the DFI is not to improve the dancers’ technical expertise/skill as such, but to allow them to identify where physical fitness might be improved so that technical ability is not compromised because of a lack of fitness.

Non-achievement at any element is interpreted in a non-scientific manner, based on a set of criteria for each section.  It is recommended that the dancer stops when they feel unable to continue or when technique is significantly lost. A judgment as to whether a dancer is fit to carry on can be made in various ways:

  1. By the dancer themselves
  2. By an invigilator who is watching the dancer
  3. By mutual consent between the dancer and the invigilator

If possible, it is recommended that a visual recording be made of the dancer doing the DFI.  Post performance, the dancer (and the invigilator) could watch the recording and decide which elements of physical fitness need to be addressed.

Copyright © Middlesex University 2021


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