This is a fantastic film of the Human Race exhibition, David the Human Race Dancer and some of the art commissions, including Kona Macphee reading the poem ‘George Pirie’s Hands’ which was inspired by Dr George Pirie’s pioneering work in the development of x-rays and some of his equipment that is featured in the exhibition.

When football met ballet

Human Race: inside the science of sports medicine hosted a film and discussion evening in partnership with Scottish Ballet to explore current thinking in the care and treatment of elite performers from football and ballet. Both disciplines demand extraordinary levels of strength and fitness, as well as a near-fanatical commitment to a career that is relatively short-lived and could end in injury at any moment.



The screening of Daniel Warren’s Mercury was followed by a panel lead discussion exploring the parallels that are developing between the care and treatment of dancers and footballers. Scottish Ballet and the Scottish Football Association have been working together to learn from each other’s practices and develop new ways to treat injuries. In doing so, they are continuing the long tradition of innovation and development in Sport and Exercise Medicine in Scotland.


Download the transcript from the discussion here! PDF | WORD


Scotland has played a dominant role in the transformation of Sport and Exercise Medicine from a ‘hobby’ interest to a recognised discipline. Sport and Exercise Medicine is concerned with the physical body of the athlete: how to treat it, how to prevent injury, how to enhance its performance and how it works. The standard and type of treatment received by athletes has changed dramatically over time; today elite athletes have access to specialist medical care before, during and after competition. The care of athletes has come a long way since the ‘magic sponge’ and Scotland’s sports teams now enjoy specialist medical care.


Mercury is a 35 minute film that explores dancers’ movements: how they are developed and the impact they have on the dancers’ body. The movements are filmed at high speeds, up to 2000 frames per second, a technique normally used in ballistics and engineering. As a result, the images are analytical rather than observational. We see in minute detail the refined adjustment and subtle shifts that a dancer makes in order to shape a movement.


The film also gives the viewer an insight into the complex relationship between the dancer and choreographer and allows us to focus on the intellectual and physical labour of the ballet dancer.


After the film the audience was given the opportunity to join Daniel Warren, Paul Tyers, Scottish Ballet’s Deputy Artistic Director and Dr John MacLean, Scotland football team doctor to consider and debate the importance of understanding the needs of the elite performer and the parallels between the two disciplines.