Sitting in one of the first seminars of fall term at Trinity Laban (TL), I had no idea what to expect. While jumping into a year abroad as a study abroad student was stimulating enough, Trinity Laban had many assessments and opportunities I had never heard of before – one of these was the BA2 ‘Dance Industry Engagement.’ The idea of working in the dance field as part of the year’s assessment was something I had never heard of at my university in the States and as I began e-mailing professional companies and choreographers all around the UK in excitement, it wasn’t until I stopped and took a step back that I realized the perfect place for my placement was right here at TL.
On my first day at Trinity Laban Health, I was introduced to the Physio staff, Dance Science researchers, and PhD students. I had no idea so much was going on just a staircase below my Graham classes but once I discovered it, I was infatuated. From assisting with classes to transcribing audio recordings of dance science discussions, I learned not only the importance of research within the dance field but also how the studies coming from Trinity Laban’s Dance Science and Health departments were changing the way dance practice was being communicated not only at TL but at universities all over Europe.
Transcribing notes on the advantages of safe practice, I realized how the research at TL had not only impacted the Laban students but moreover how different it was from what I knew at home. While in the States, Pilates and physiotherapy are available they are not as tangible and relatable as Trinity Laban Health seeks to makes them here. In my classes at TL before I had started my work placement, I noticed immediately a shift from the way I was used to training previously. As classes moved at a slower pace, they carried through with more attention to detail and focus on internal stimulus than I was used to. The concept of understanding movement on a deeper level and only continuing ideas when it felt right in the body was a break from the ‘all or nothing’ approach I was used to pushing through, and suddenly I began to see huge shifts in my dance practice.
Carrying over to my work experience at Trinity Laban Health, I assisted in many studio based workshops focusing on everything from rehabilitation to circuit strength training. In an evening class focusing on relaxation, I spent an hour experimenting with different types of breathing methods, the relationship between breathing in and releasing, and how combining these different ideas could lead to a personalized relaxation self-practice. Additionally, I assisted in Pilates workshops for musicians, staff, and students and was able to understand the different ways that Pilates could be tailored and shifted to be appropriate for a wide range of participants. Besides practical workshops, I also had the opportunity to experience the administrative duties of the health clinic, introducing me to the wide range of abilities and understandings that are necessary to work professionally at a research and health facility.
While my industry engagement may have been just a staircase away from my ballet classes and my Friday morning seminars, my work placement at Trinity Laban Health was more than I could have ever imagined. Combining dance understanding with cross training, rehabilitation, and research that is actively being promoted in the dance world, Trinity Laban Health allowed my experience as a study abroad student to be more than just another assessment abroad.
Alexis Palasciano, BA2 Study Abroad Student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.