Different Pathways: Emilia Kallioinen

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to first-year Emilia Kallioinen about her recovery from injury and integrating her physiotherapy studies in Finland with studying dance here at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?
I wanted to study dance but I suffered an injury and couldn’t audition for any programmes. It wasn’t a serious injury but it kept me away from dancing for a few months completely, in a period when I was supposed to apply, so I had to be patient.

I have always been interested in physiotherapy and so decided to pursue that as a degree. When I recovered from my injury I did continue to dance alongside my studies in Finland. I think it’s similar to the CAT (Centre for Advanced Training) programme in here in the UK.

In Finland, the higher education system is a little bit different from the U.K. I have studied physiotherapy for two years and have been able to fast-track my studies. So, whilst I am still enrolled there and need to complete my thesis and a practical training period in the summer before I can graduate, I am also able to study at Trinity Laban. And I can use the courses here at TL as credit for my optional courses as part of my physiotherapy degree.

Before my injury I had planned to study dance, and explore physiotherapy alongside, but now I am really happy it happened the way it has.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?

I wanted to get the focus and length of a BA course and the foundation in technique. I’d heard a lot about Trinity Laban as I have friends who went here so I had insight into the course, and also I really wanted to live in London.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

It’s been really good. It’s so nice that people come from all over the world. We all learn from each other. I really find all the technique classes useful and well structured. Even though some things aren’t my main discipline I find it useful and get a lot of tools from all the classes.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?
I think dance and physiotherapy go together really well. My studies complement rather than detract from each other. I can use the knowledge from my physiotherapy studies in my dance studies. It has deepened my understanding of my body and ways of moving so it is really useful.

I feel like I actually get a lot more from dance education now that I have understanding of things I didn’t have three years ago. I’m also more mature and have learnt to organise my time and work better which is helpful.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

Patience. You can take so much of what you did before into your dancing, whatever it is. It feeds into the dancing you do and makes you even more individual.

Different Pathways: Lewis Sharp

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to second-year Lewis Sharp about his journey from a B. Tech in musical theatre and role as teaching assistant to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

I went to The BRIT School for sixth-form and did a musical theatre B. Tech. for 2 years. Then I applied to musical theatre courses but didn’t get in and my teacher suggested I do a year-long dance course at Lewisham College but it got to a point where I didn’t want to dance anymore, so didn’t complete the year. Later, my singing teacher asked me to choreograph for her opera company in France and I went back to BRIT to assist a dance teacher for 3 months. The teacher I was assisting suggested I should apply for dance at Trinity Laban. It took a while to realise that dance is where I should be. I feel that it’s the right place for me.

Why did you choose TL?

I looked at the dance course here and in the prospectus it said ‘we like the autonomous learner’ and that hooked me instantly – I liked the emphasis on creativity. It’s such a versatile course, it’s so much more than just dancing. It’s about becoming dance artists.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

I’m engaged the whole time, I’m never bored, and there are things to think about constantly. It’s so much more than just the timetable – you’re encouraged to take opportunities – and I’m proactive, I feel like you have to do that to develop your artistry. I’ve been exploring where I’m from and sharing my knowledge.

My first year gave me a foundation of skill level. I wasn’t much of a dancer before, I was more singer/actor so it really grounded me in my technique. I’m learning so much and I’m able to think about my body and what it’s able to do. I can now say I’m a dancer.

Before coming here I thought you had to be perfect before you could dance or that was it. But you’re learning every day and that’s the most rewarding thing. I’m glad it’s lived up to the promise of the prospectus. For me it really works.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

I feel glad I came at 20/21 and took those two years out because I learnt so much in that time. Doing musical theatre before this gives me the skills to think about the bigger picture – to combine all the different art-forms together to push my practise now. Having experienced something already I’m now more focused on what I want to do. I have a more mature respect towards my studies and a level of professionalism, as well as punctuality and time management. And I now have this confidence and presence that I didn’t have at 18. I needed that experience to really be sure this is what I want to do.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

Listen to what you want to do in that moment and if you’re unsure just take that time out. As long as you’re pro-active you can learn so much. Everything is transferrable. If opportunities arrive then take them but also take your time to decide what you want to do. Personally I would recommend that everyone takes a year or two out so you can have more things under your belt.

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Different Pathways: Laura Gagliardi

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to first-year Laura Gagliardi about her journey from professional volleyball and a biology degree to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?
Both my parents are dancers and I started studying contemporary dance at the age of 15. I’d spent seven years playing professional level volleyball but it was very competitive and athletic and required a lot of time. I was just starting my high school and was very busy so I didn’t want to commit so much to sport but I wanted to continuing doing something physical.

I have a passion for the natural world and wanted to explore more so chose to do a BA in biology. When I started at university in Ferrara, Italy I continued to study contemporary dance alongside my course. Then I did an Erasmus year in Spain to study marine biology and genetics and met a choreographer and teacher who asked me to dance in his company, but I wanted to conclude my bachelors first. I finished my BA and was going to start my masters in biology and realised I couldn’t do it, that I should dance. I knew if I didn’t try I would regret it.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?
I decided to come to a dedicated, specialist educational institution because you’re in 5-8 hours a day, you are focused. You have your own place, your origin of training. I asked friends where was good to study dance and one of them had studied at Trinity Laban and she recommended it – and she wasn’t the only one.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?
I’m really happy. The programme and the teachers are incredible, and the quality of the teaching is very good. A lot of people spoke to me so highly of Trinity Laban and it hasn’t disappointed. And being in London while studying is wonderful. Every week you can go to shows, galleries, take advantage of free entry to museums! I have just shifted from biology to dance so I’m just starting to understand why I’m here and what this study can bring me. I’m really open.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

I think we all have to pass through some experiences before being a dancer or choreographer. On the one hand I think it’s a positive thing that I have done a degree before because I have some knowledge and can apply that to my practise, particularly studying nutrition, and physical awareness and development…etc. I’ve noticed that it’s useful to know biology and to know your body when it comes to dance. If you want to work with your body you have to know how it works. On the other hand, obviously I’m older than some of my peers and I’m not as trained as others who have trained in dance for longer. But my previous studies also influence me particularly when we do choreography because it’s my interest to put together biology with dance in a conceptual way.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

If they feel this desire, this impulse to dance and study dance they have to do it. Dance is intrinsic to human experience. From our first time in this world we start to dance. All cultures have dance in some form. If you come from another history and decide to dance you have to have this sense of commitment, hard work, and belief in what you are doing. And keep studying other things – life experiences influence dance.

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Different Pathways: Hannah Thomas

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

Here we speak to first-year Hannah Thomas about her journey from CAT to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

From an early age, I competed in multiple sports events, including football and athletics. Because of this, I already had that muscular foundation built into me. Taking dance as an option for GCSE was where it all really began. At the age of 14, I took part in a dance ‘taster session’, where I found a natural ability for movement. Following this, I began to spend a lot of my time training in a small studio in my Upper School. I then continued to gain an interest in choreography, taking part in One Dance UK’s ‘Young Creatives’ course as a choreographer in both 2014 and 2015. I discovered Trinity Laban’s CAT programme in 2015 when my upper school dance teacher pointed it out to me on the website. Not expecting to gain a place, I successfully auditioned and joined the CAT programme in 2015. From there, my passion for contemporary dance spiralled.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?

For me, choosing Trinity Laban was not anything to do with the techniques on offer, or the facilities available. It was merely a gut feeling, a feeling that felt all warm and fuzzy. It was the perfect combination of familiarity and the desire to follow my curious instincts. It felt right.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

So far, my experience of Trinity Laban has been messy… in the best sense possible! I’ve gained connections, friends and numerous experiences. I have learnt so much about the world of dance and even more about myself. I have discovered the importance of well-established technique, and the fun in improvisation; the excitement in new collaborations, and the thrill of performing with some of the most passionate people I’ve ever some across. Genuinely wouldn’t change a thing. If I’m honest, I have no idea where I will go upon completion of my training. I find that spontaneity is a good way to live. Trinity Laban has taught me to put absolutely everything into my daily practice, in order to open as many doors as possible in the future.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

Coming from a non-technical background, my dancing body was raised from the ground upwards. Much like young children learn to walk, we spent the time exploring efficient ways in and out of the floor. Whilst I felt like this initial training gave me a good idea of what it means to be grounded, I was never so confident performing more technically demanding phrases of movement. Trinity Laban taught me how to move confidently when standing upright. I am now able to find the verticality in my movements, without it seeming distant from what I am used to. I now embrace the versatility of movements, allowing me to be a much more adaptable and playful artist.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

My advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in dance is to just ‘run with it’. When it comes to your passion, there’s no point worrying about what others will think or say. Coming from someone who was close to pursuing physics in order to please my teachers, I would suggest that being upfront with what you want is the only way to get what you want.

On a side note, when I say ‘run with it’, I really mean to RUN with it. Don’t waste a minute of the time you have. I wish someone had told me that from a younger age.

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Different Pathways: Paula Jankowska

A series highlighting different ways in which people can join our BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance programme.

We speak to first-year Paula Jankowska about her journey from a graphic and communication design degree to studying dance at Trinity Laban.

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Can you tell about your journey to studying at Trinity Laban/studying contemporary dance?

Before coming to Trinity Laban I did a graphic and communication design degree course at the University of Leeds that included a year in industry. Before going to Leeds I did an arts/media foundation and was dancing but stopped when I went to university. In my second year at uni, I joined a dance society which rekindled my passion for dance I guess.

After I graduated I worked as a graphic designer for a year. It was good transitional year, to put the skills I’d learned to work, but it was nice to know that I was looking towards something else after. I love graphics but it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t like sitting in front of a laptop for eight hours a day.

My final year was so intense that my way of relaxing was to take other dance classes and I would end up spending more time in the studio. I realised that that’s what I wanted to do. Every project that I did, especially towards the end, was somehow related to dance, motion and the body. It tells you that you should be doing that.

Why did you choose Trinity Laban?
I did a dance summer school at Trinity Laban at the end of my fourth year at university, when I was graduating, and the atmosphere here felt open and welcoming. I wanted to do a BA here because I wanted the intense training rather than a diploma etc. and I could apply what I learned in my four years at Leeds, my academic skills, as well as my dance skills.

What has your experience been of Trinity Laban so far?

I didn’t have too many expectations as I was trying not to expect too much. Apart from just wanting to dance of course! I’m combining dancing and doing research, which is what I wanted. There are a lot of people here who’ve done a lot of things, there is a mix, so I don’t feel like a mother on the course. You’re physically spending so much time together and putting in as much effort as everyone else that it doesn’t matter what your journey was to get here.

How do you feel your previous experience influences your current study?

My degree and year in the profession opened me up to people and contacts and helped cultivate my communication and business skills that are useful in the real world.

I wasn’t ready to do dance at 18. Even if I had got into schools, I don’t think it would have been as beneficial as it is now, because I have a completely different mind-set towards myself as a dancer and towards education in general. When you’re 18 it’s just a completely different world. I’m taking a lot more out of it now which I’m glad about. I was really scared at first. I was scared I was too old at 23 and was so concerned, but now, being here and experiencing what I’m experiencing, I’m really glad. And I’m not too old. Twenty-something is not too old to dance.

Do you have any advice for others who might be thinking of a change in study and what advice would you give to yourself looking back at your changing path?

You’ll be fine. The world’s not going to end. It feels like that when you’re changing, turning your whole life around, but it’s not as scary as it seems. I’m actually where I’m meant to be now. Everything goes smoother because you want to do it. If you’re not sure about something, waiting is not such a bad thing, and to actually follow what you think you should do.

Dance Science in Houston: Reflections of IADMS 2017

In October, several members of Trinity Laban Dance Science team had the pleasure of attending the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) annual meeting in Houston, Texas. This was a four day conference, attended by delegates from all over the world, sharing the most up-to-date innovative research in the field of dance medicine and science. The event consisted of lecture and poster presentations, interactive workshops, movement sessions, round table discussions and debates on a variety of topics. These included physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, injury and much more, presented by a diverse range of speakers including physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, dance educators and scientists. Despite the broad range of professional backgrounds, all delegates and speakers had one thing in common; an involvement in the education, health-care and wellbeing of dancers, and an overall passion for dance medicine and science.

Attending members of the team included Dr Emma Redding (Head of Dance Science), Dr Lucie Clements (Lecturer in Dance Science), Anna Williams and Elizabeth Yutzey (Dance Science Graduate Interns). Our team was also joined by many graduates of the programme and current students. Some of our team and alumni were speakers; presenting their research, leading movement sessions or participating in the panel discussions. We were present for the entire 4 days of the conference and also spent time promoting the work and educational programmes of Trinity Laban at our exhibition stand.

The conference commenced with the opening remarks by IADMS president Professor Matt Wyon, welcoming delegates and speakers and sharing highlights of the four days ahead of us. The conference kicked off to a great start for the TL Dance Science Team – we were very proud to see our very own Dr Emma Redding be presented with the IADMS Dance Educator Award. Congratulations Emma!


Dr Emma Redding receiving the IADMS Dance Educator Award (Image: Elizabeth Yutzey)

New to the conference this year were the IADMS ‘duels’, where two researchers presented their opposing opinions on prevalent topics of debate in dance science. One notable topic of discussion was ‘Should dancers run?’ arguing whether or not dancers should use running as a form of supplementary training. Another stand out topic was ‘Dancer – athlete or artist’ – with fascinating points raised on both sides of the debate. It was a great session to start the conference and initiate debate among delegates!

Dance Science Graduate Intern Anna was the first of the TL team to present her research, delivering an oral presentation on the prevalence of hypermobility and its relationship with self-reported injury in contemporary dance students. This was Anna’s first time presenting at an international conference since graduating from the MSc programme. This was followed by 2016 graduate Nefeli Tsiouti – who presented three times throughout the conference – the first of which shared her findings of the occurrence of injury in elite break-dancers. Another one of our Dance Science graduates, Dr Sarah Kenny, presented her research on the risk factors for injury in pre-professional ballet and contemporary dancers. That afternoon, Dr Emma Redding and Dr Lucie Clements led a movement session on “Collaborative Research in Dance Science and Creative Practice”, where they talked through their 3 year study into the use of mental imagery in dance. Their workshop shared movement tasks which were included in the intervention study and the psychological ideas that underpin them.


Dr Emma Redding & Dr Lucie Clements leading their movement sessions on Mental Imagery in Dance (Image: Elizabeth Yutzey)

To conclude the first day, a student and young professional networking event took place which was organised by the IADMS student committee, chaired by MSc graduate Siobhan Mitchell. This was a great event for students from all over the world to meet each other and exchange interests and ideas in the field of dance science. This workshop consisted of several roundtable discussions led by industry professionals from varying backgrounds, giving students and new graduates the opportunity to learn more about potential career pathways to take in the dance medicine and science field. In the evening, all delegates attended the Welcome Reception at the Health Museum, Houston, to socialise and network whilst enjoying some food and drink. A great end to the first day!

Day 2 marked the first of the ‘Special Interest’ days – ‘A Day for Teachers’. The research presented throughout this day was focused on the application of dance medicine and science into the studio, with the aim of enhancing safe and healthy teaching practices. This was another busy day for the TL team.  Firstly, graduate Siobhan Mitchell presented her PhD research on “The Early Maturing Dancer: Challenges and Advantages in UK Vocational Training” which explored the role of maturity timing in young dancers experiences of vocational training. Nefeli Tsiouti led a movement session on the ‘Breakalign Method’, a new conditioning methodology for Break-dancers. Also, Dr Emma Redding, along with Sonia Rafferty and Maggie Morris from Safe In Dance International, led a panel discussion ‘From dance artists to healthy dance advocate: a conversation.’

To finish off Day 2, the Student Committee organised a social event for all the students and recent graduates to get to know each other and network while enjoying some ice cream! It was great to see so many Trinity Laban alumni and current students! Other members of the team attended a local theatre to watch Ad Deum Dance Company, a Houston-based contemporary dance company.

Promoting TL on the exhibition stand: (L-R: Anna Williams, Dr Lucie Clements, Elizabeth Yutzey & Lauren Copping)

Saturday was the last full day of the conference, but nonetheless a full-on day for the team. Dr Emma Redding and Dr Lucie Clements both presented their research on creativity in dance, which was part of the ‘In the Dancer’s Mind’ project. Their first presentation was on a three year study into creativity and mental imagery, followed by the development of dancer’s perceptions of the creative process questionnaire. Meanwhile, for the third time, Nefeli Tsiouti presented her MSc thesis project on the cardiorespiratory fitness of elite break dancers.

As well as oral presentations, our team were presenting their work through posters and movement sessions. Soon to be MSc graduate Chloe Travers presented a poster about her undergraduate dissertation on the role of Micronutrients on soft tissue injury rehabilitation in dancers. This was followed by MSc graduate Christina Mastori, who delivered a movement session investigating sensorimotor learning principles, guiding participants through sequences which encourage instinctual movement choices, with the aim of enhancing kinaesthetic and proprioceptive skills.

Day 3 was also ‘A day for Medics’ – the second of the special interest days – which included many presentations from a clinical perspective, delivered by many different medical practitioners who work closely with or specialise in dance. A vast selection of studies were presented on topics to do with dance injuries, surgery and methods of rehabilitation. To round up a great day, all guests learned some traditional Texas line dancing at the IADMS party.

The final day was a great conclusion to the event, as our team had finished their individual presentations and could relax and enjoy the final day with an array of presentations and interactive sessions to choose from. Dr Emma Redding and Dr Sarah Needham-Beck (along with other industry professionals) took part in a panel discussion directed by pre-planned questions from students and recent graduates. The panel discussed their own in dance medicine and science, reflecting on their career journeys and highlights. Dr Sarah Kenny shared more of her research on injury in dance, delivering a lecture presentation on the interpretations of injury burden in pre-professional dancers.

One particular aspect of the conference that went down well with the TL team was the movement sessions. It was great to attend these workshops to practically, experience the research and knowledge being developed within the field. This was a unique experience that makes the IADMS annual meeting stand out from your usual conference setting.

Another stand out feature of this years’ annual meeting was the IADMS mobile phone app, which allowed delegates to access the schedule and live updates. The structure of the conference meant there were up to four presentations or activity sessions running simultaneously, giving all attendees a choice to pick an area of interest – the conference app proved very useful in making a quick decision of where to go next!  In addition, the conference app could be used to rate and review the presentations and speakers. This was a great opportunity for first-time presenters to receive feedback from other researchers in the field.

As well as being a great networking event for professionals and current researchers, the conference was equally supportive and accommodating for students, from all backgrounds including dance/sports science, kinesiology, physiotherapy and medicine. We were very proud to see so many TL Dance Science alumni, students as well as our Dance Science team present at the event! As our Dance Science programme has produced graduates from all over the world, it was great to all be together in one place, sharing and discussing dance science.

Our Dance Science team and alumni had a fascinating and insightful time at the conference, learning about the current research happening all over the world, as well as having the opportunity to present our own research, represent the work of Trinity Laban and make connections! We are all very excited that next year’s IADMS annual meeting will be held in Helsinki, Finland – we hope to see you there!


TL Dance Science Staff, Alumni and Current Students (Image: Elizabeth Yutzey)

To take a closer look at what our team got up to, or to learn more about our department — like and follow our social media platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trinitylabandancescience/

Instagram: @trinitylaban_dancescience

Written by Anna Williams MSc., Dance Science Graduate Intern


Alumni spotlight: Aaron Chaplin

We caught up with London-born contemporary dancer Aaron Chaplin, who graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance with BA(hons) first class honours in 2017, to talk about his training and what he’s doing now.

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Aaron, tell us about studying at Trinity Laban

I very much enjoyed my time at Trinity Laban. The building itself is stunning and being in such a purpose built environment with world class teachers and a community of dancers who are talented, creative and unapologetically individual is something that not everybody gets to experience and for that I am thankful.

How has your training prepared you for your career?

My three years at Laban helped sculpt the dancer that I am today. I was able to nurture my interests in choreography taking advantage of the many opportunities that there were to create while also having that chance to work with a plethora of choreographers such as Jessica Wright of Company Wayne McGregor.

Since graduating, you’ve joined Phoenix Dance Theatre, what’s that experience been like?

Being able to finish my three years at Trinity Laban and step straight into my role as an apprentice for Phoenix Dance Theatre was an absolute blessing. The company has a long and vibrant history and to be chosen to a part of that is an honour. Since joining Phoenix I’ve been afforded so many amazing opportunities. Most recently we performed Troy Game (1974) by Robert North at a Gala honouring Nadine Senior [founding principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds]. Performing such an iconic piece of work only two months into my apprenticeship was surreal and being able to do it alongside past and present company members was incredibly humbling.

What’s next?

Phoenix Dance is currently working towards the premiere of a new work titled Windrush: Movement of the People. The production celebrates the 70th anniversary of the SS Windrush, a ship that brought the first Caribbean migrants to the United Kingdom after the Second World War, and looks at British Caribbean culture and the rise of a multicultural Britain. It has been incredible to be a part of the work’s creation. It is vibrant and fun, but also packed with information detailing the experiences of those who arrived, both good and bad, which will be an eye opener for some.

We also have tour dates in London at the Peacock Theatre from the 26th – 28th April 2018. I’m very much looking forward to being on the road and performing with the company, taking art to various parts of the country doing what I love.


Windrush: Movement of the People premieres at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on the 7th – 10th February 2018 as part of a mixed programme.

Find out more at Phoenix Dance Theatre’s website.