Reflection on the 6th Annual Dance Science Networking and Careers Day

The 6th Annual Dance Science Networking and Careers Day

On June 15th, Trinity Laban Dance Science hosted the 6th Annual Networking and Careers Day. Current and prospective students, past graduates, and industry professionals came together to discuss the status of dance science and the pathways to pursuing a career in this field. Presentations covered career journeys in dance science and conducting research in different contexts. Dr. Liliana Araujo, programme leader of Dance Science, moderated a panel of industry experts talking about the opportunities and challenges in dance science. The day was bursting with exciting conversations between old friends and new about how to move forward in dance science.

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Kayla McClellan, a first year MFA student, attended the event. Below is her reflections on the day.

Tell us a bit about what the event was about…

The networking day was a time and space to listen to individuals’ interactions with the Dance Science field. It spanned the spectrum of those with an initial interest in the field, to students practicing Dance Science, and professionals working in the field.

What compelled you to attend the event?

As a current MFA in Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, I found it important to interact with peers outside of the conservatoire. This provided me with an even more robust picture of what types of research and work are being produced right now.

What was the highlight of the event for you and why?

I found the socializing parts of the event to be the most beneficial. We were given many opportunities to further unpack what others had presented on a more personal level.

What was the key ‘take home’ message that you got from the event?

My key ‘take home’ message from the event was that the Dance Science field is rapidly growing; however, it’s important to keep in contact with your peers in order to progress it in the most effective and efficient way possible.

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What would you say to IADMS student members who might consider attending a similar event? 

I would tell them to absolutely attend, it’s so important to be in situations that challenge and sometimes shift your perspectives. After all, the dance art-form is continuously shifting and we must keep up with those involved.

Written by Elizabeth Yutzey, Graduate Intern for Dance Science and

Kayla McClellan, Current MFA Dance Science Student at Trinity Laban

 

Variety of Uses for Sports Massage

What is sports massage? 

Sports massage is a type of therapy that focuses on the soft tissues in the body. This includes skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments and fascia which is a form of connective tissue that lines other soft tissues. Sports massage involves the manipulation of these soft tissues and can also include different massage techniques and types of stretching

 

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Image: Sports massage, JK Photography 

What is sports massage suitable for?

Sports massage can be suitable for dealing with many different conditions from sport related overuse issues, to back pain from your office chair. These benefits can be split into four main areas; injury, maintenance, pre-event and post-event.

Injury:  Sports massage has many benefits that can help reduce the risk of injury as well as be used for remedial purposes to help reduce tightness and pain. Sports massage is great at helping to detect muscular imbalances and any potential deep tissue damage which can result in a reduced risk of injury. A key benefit of sports massage is increasing blood flow through the tissues which can lead to faster recovery times and reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness (or DOMS for short).

Maintenance: Having regular massages can help to keep muscles healthy and supple and can reduce the need for future treatment. Studies have shown that having regular sports massages can help to improve range of motion and flexibility. This in itself can also contribute to lowering injury risk, especially among dancers, for whom flexibility is desired. Having regular massages can also help to identify any particular areas of tension or stress and can increase your overall awareness and education surrounding your body. This can in turn help you to improve your performance and self-manage any conditions you have.

Pre-event: Feeling nervous and tense before a show or performance? Sports massage can stimulate circulation through the body and reduce tension which can be beneficial to help you be on top form before that audition!

Post-event: Sports massage can be just as useful after an event! It can help speed up recovery times, remove toxins and waste products from the body, de-stress you and help fight any delayed muscle soreness you may feel the following day. 

 

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Image: Sports massage, JK Photography 

Sports massage is one of those treatments which can be used in a variety of different ways, and is most effective when used regularly. So whether your a performer, office worker or athlete sports massage can be a useful tool to help maintain a healthy body and banish those tense muscles when they arise!

 

Written by Rebecca Appleton 

Graduate Intern for Health 

 

 

 

 

ENJOYING CHRISTMAS BREAK? The benefits of rest and relaxation

As Christmas fast approaches, many of you will be taking time away from the studio or work to take a well-earned break! But a lot of people don’t know enough about the multiple benefits that utilising proper rest and relaxation can bring.

‘Rest’ is anything that gives you a break and can be either physical or mental. There are multiple benefits for everyone and especially for performing artists. This is partly a result of the many physiological changes that can occur when utilising rest and relaxation successfully. These changes can include

  • reduced blood pressure
  • reduced muscle tension
  • reduced sensitivity to pain
  • improved immunity
  • increased circulation
  • slowed breathing rate

Another key benefit of rest and relaxation is that it can reduce the effects of stress. Stress can cause disruption to daily life in many forms including sleep and digestion, as well as increasing aches and pains and the likelihood of getting ill (coughs, colds etc.). Taking time out to rest and relax can help to tackle stress and keep our bodies and minds healthy.

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Image: Trinity Laban matwork class; JK photography 

 

In what other ways can it benefit me as a performing artist?                       The benefits of rest and relaxation can include both physiological and behavioural advantages which can be important for performing artists. Studies have reported that relaxation can reduce mood fluctuations and increase concentration. Also, rest is key for muscle regeneration. This means that in order to see progression in physical training, one must rest or the muscles will not be able to regenerate and you will see no improvements. This is important for performing artists to keep in mind as there is often a tendency to want to train all the time and take little rest in order to improve. However, in actual fact this can inhibit physical progression and could increase the risk of injury. Research has shown that performers, especially dancers, often work through fatigue and that overuse is one of the most common causes of injuries among dancers.

Not obtaining enough rest can also increase the likelihood of overtraining and can even lead to burnout. This is a complex condition and can be acute or chronic, and is the result of a volume of activity/exercise that exceeds the performer’s capabilities. Overtraining and burnout can both increases the risk of injury also, as the body can be more susceptible to muscle damage, infections, allergies and will take longer to heal from even minor scratches. Research has also shown that taking time to review a piece of music or choreography mentally as well as physically, can be much more beneficial than just physically rehearsing alone, which could be a good way to tackle overtraining among performers.

How can I rest and relax properly?                                                                   It is ideal if you can set aside a certain amount of time each day or week to just rest and relax . This can be anything that gives your mind or body a break and can range from just having an early night or a weekend off, to participating yoga classes or doing breathing exercises. Research suggests that constructive/active rest can also be beneficial, which simply requires you to lie in a resting state and focus your mind on a particular task.

So enjoy taking some time out over Christmas to rest and relax and begin the New Year with a great start! #dancersneedrest

 

STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

Push!  Pull! Get down! … you may be familiar with these three terms  if you’ve ever attended one of our Strength & Conditioning or HIIT classes in the Conditioning Studio here at Trinity Laban. These free classes are beneficial and open to ALL Trinity Laban students which can support your practice as a dancer, musician, or musical theatre student.

Are you thinking strength and conditioning doesn’t apply to you and your practice? Never trained for strength or conditioning and don’t know how to start?

Read on to learn more about supporting your individual practice and how Trinity Laban is here to support you.

#KickStartSC IS for You!

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Image: Chris Nash Photography and Random Dance

What the science says:

Whether you’re a music student, dance student, or musical theatre student, maintaining physical fitness is important for performance enhancement and injury prevention. Numerous studies on the physical demands of dance have shown that the cardiorespiratory requirements of dance classes are significantly lower than dance performance. This gap between the demands of class and performance leave dancers unprepared for the rigor of performance, resulting in fatigue and in some cases, injury. Further, a high frequency of injury in dancers has been linked to insufficient levels of strength and endurance. It has been recommended that dancers train strength, especially for areas of the body that receive extra load during training, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which most closely simulates a dance performance setting.

Training in music presents a different set of physical demands on the body. A study examining the physiological demands of music found that music is an intermittent activity with fluctuating cardiorespiratory demands. It was suggested that interval training, such as HIIT, would be a beneficial form of supplementary training to support a musician’s training.  Other studies highlight the high occurrence of overuse injuries in musicians, as well as injuries caused by bad technique habits, and postural misalignments. Strength—especially in areas such as the core or the limbs required to hold or play the musician’s instrument—is needed to support a musicians’ performance without injury.

According to a study from Medical Problems of Performing Artists, musical theatre performers are the “triathletes” of the performing arts. This field of the performing arts involves elements of both dance and music and therefore requires the physical demands of both fields. Additionally, singing while dancing proposes unique demands on the performers’ breathing patterns. Like in dance, it was found that in-class training does not meet the demands of performance in musical theatre. One study found that 46% of their participants reported receiving two injuries per year and 30% receiving three or four per year, with the most common being injuries of the lower extremities.  Based on these findings, it is important for musical theatre performers to engage in supplementary fitness training to prepare for performance conditions.

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Image: Conditioning Studio at TL, JK Photography.

#KickStartSC:

For the first time, the Trinity Laban Conditioning Studio will be putting on a Kick-Start series of strength and conditioning classes taught by Trinity Laban alumni Khyle Eccles, MSc Dance Science, specializing in strength and conditioning for performing artists. This series, which will take place during the first week of Term One, will focus on introducing students to using the Conditioning Studio for supplementary strength and conditioning training.

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Image: Khyle Eccles

Over the previous year, the Strength & Conditioning and HIIT classes taught by Khyle have helped students from all programs to increase their fitness levels and aid them in training and performance. These classes are also great resources for learning principles of strength and conditioning that can be applied to one’s own practice. In the past, students have learned the importance of warm-up and ways to incorporate a sufficient warm up into their practice, how to use all of the various pieces of equipment that exist in the conditioning studio, and that strength and conditioning can be fun and exciting! If Khyle’s enthusiasm and great dance moves don’t get you hooked on these classes, then the benefits on your training will. Each class targets different aspects of training, so attendance at these classes will always apply to you and could result in increased jump height for all the dancing needs, increased endurance for long performances, or increased upper body strength for holding up those instruments day after day.

Come join us this coming week for #KickStartSC and see what this is all about!

Written by Elizabeth Yutzey

Dance Science Graduate Intern

Stress management and finding alternative treatments: an undergraduate dancer’s perspective.

Undergraduate Contemporary Dance Student Bethan Cooper is in her final year at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and has been doing work experience across both the Health and Dance Science departments. As part of her time with us she has written a blog piece focusing on stress management and the use of alternative treatments. You can read her thoughts below:

Stress management and finding alternative treatments

So what are the common causes and effects of stress on the dancer? With Independent Project season coming to a close and Commissioned Works, Historical Project and Performance Project fast approaching it’s a demanding time for dance students. What can you do to keep your body healthy (and injury free) so that you can get the most out of it?We know the basics:

  • Eating well
  • Staying hydrated
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Effective warm ups and cool downs…

But sometimes bodies can become overwhelmed by sudden changes in practice, so it is important to notice any aches, niggles or complaints before they become bigger problems.

Have you ever noticed an awkward “jump” in your movement whilst executing slow or fluid material? The body is very good at managing itself and finding solutions to problems, and will continue to compensate in many amazing ways until these problems become more substantial. In order to prevent injury, it can be valuable to seek treatments that will contribute to your overall wellness.

It is important to find the right treatment for you, be it physiotherapy, acupuncture or maybe a super intense sports massage! However, occasionally a non-invasive approach will be beneficial.

Why choose Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral treatment is a more holistic approach, where practitioners use light touch, encouraging the body to heal itself. Clients can enjoy a gentle and relaxing hour where the body can take its time to absorb and realise small changes. The treatment aims to work not only with the body, but with the person as a whole, and so has psychological benefits too! This attention to the person as a whole can help address injuries, but also underlying issues behind the injury.

Practitioners work with the fluids and fascia in the body (the connective tissue that holds us together). A particularly important line of fascia for dancers is The Deep Front Line – a long line of tissue connecting the toes to the tongue (and linking muscles such as the psoas and diaphragm along the way).

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http://danceproject.ca/dancers-and-the-deep-front-line/#.WTVn0ZLyvcs

There are also links between Craniosacral Therapy and many of the somatic approaches used in dance – practices such as Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais, which can all be relevant and supportive to your release-based training!

TL practitioners

Marina Collard uses her years of knowledge and experience of dance to inform her practice, making her the ideal practitioner for us dancers! She believes the treatment encourages clients to find a heightened sense of awareness in themselves and their bodies. This kind of physical enquiry can support dancers in optimising the body they have, keeping it open and available for movement. The treatment can also aid stress management; allowing clients time to slow down, inhabit their bodies and reach a more embodied state.

If you would like to know any more about Craniosacral Therapy treatment or have any other queries please contact the health department via the Trinity Laban website www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/health or email health@trinitylaban.ac.uk .

Bethan Cooper

BA3 Contemporary Dance Student, Trinity Laban

 

 Musicians, don’t cramp your style!

In the last 20 years musicians’ medicine has become increasingly popular. But are musicians aware of the prevalence of injury and how best to treat them?

An article published under The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) couldn’t have said it better…

‘Musicians should think of themselves as athletes.’

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The physical and psychological demands that come hand in hand with being a musician, are no different to that of a dancer or perhaps even a rugby player?! It is essential that Musicians are attentive to their physical needs, limitations, and work, to condition their bodies accordingly.

The repetitive nature of a musicians’ repertoire, lengthy rehearsals and performances, tests posture and muscle strength, so it probably comes as no surprise that the vast majority of injuries sustained include repetitive strain, lower back pain and Tendonitis, to name but a few. However a study of 1046 musicians conducted by BAPAM in 2004, suggested 52% of injuries recorded were due to performance-related issues, such as overwork and incorrect practice or technique when playing their instruments.

Having said this an injury or trauma can be sustained by simply completing a harmless day to day activity, therefore it is essential that the treatment process is managed with the musician’s instrument and the demands of the lifestyle at the focal point. When assessing and treating a musician, a holistic ‘whole body’ approach is paramount- regardless of the type of treatment, the plan should be tailored to the individual artist!

All musicians face limitations, the physical dimensions of an instrument requires the musician to make adjustments to the body, muscles and tendons can be put under strain or ‘unusual’ positions during this modification. To maintain a high performance level, musicians may need to take preventive action or seek treatment that can help strengthen essential core muscles or correct muscle imbalances, thus keeping those dreaded repetitive strain injuries at bay!

Reduce the risk of time away from your passion…

PHYSIOTHERAPHY works towards improving your physical performance and reducing the risk of further injury by developing a biomechanical understanding of how you play. Forms of treatment can range from exercise referral, postural analysis (taking your instrument into consideration), manual mobilisations, dry needling and taping where necessary. These techniques collaborate to address the factors mentioned above, focusing on building strength to support and stabilise muscle imbalances and weaknesses.

ACUPUNCTURE is the balance of energetics of the mind and body. Chinese medicine techniques boost the uptake of oxygen and dissemination to our muscles, thus minimising those pesky cramps. Working to relieve tension, throughout the body it is a saving grace for shoulder and back pain. Did I mention its holistic approach to the body, treating headaches, anxiety and insomnia?

PILATES is a great tool for musicians. A typical Pilates class includes exercises to build or ‘restore’ endurance, flexibility, trunk and pelvic stability, muscle balance, strength, and efficient breathing patterns. Every one of these can help a musician to play a longer repertoire with less fatigue.

SPORTS MASSAGE works to relieve muscle tension as well as improve circulation, flexibility and posture. Whether it be through soft tissue release, trigger point, muscle energy or general massage techniques, this form of treatment can help bring more awareness to the body and decrease pain. Sound good? It can also tackle anxiety and restlessness pre or post performance, reduce stress and improve our overall wellbeing.

Prevention is better than cure!

It is handy to know what treatments are appropriate for musicians and their specific needs but as always remember the aforementioned!! The key to any injury is prevention – intense practice (although sometimes unavoidable) should be limited and performed in moderation.

Try taking regular breaks and work towards conditioning and maintaining a strong body by introducing warm ups and cool downs to your practice. If possible gradually increase the intensity and duration of your practice and restrict yourself to reasonable playing times- we know this may be a tricky one!

For any other information regarding the best treatment for YOU and what we offer at TL Health please contact us on  health@trinitylaban.ac.uk or 0208 3059479/0208 3059482.

Remember a clear and open communication between health care professionals, teachers and most importantly Performers will aid in effective Injury Treatment and in the long haul- PREVENTION!

 

Jessica Coleman

Graduate Intern for Health & Dance Science.

BA (Hons) Dance and Professional Practice, MSc Dance Science.

 

Core Stability for Performing Artists

We often hear the terms ‘engage your core’ or ‘use those core muscles’ in the performing arts world but just what is ‘the core’ and how do we use it?

The core

The core refers to the trunk of the body and the muscular system which aids in providing support and stability for the spine and pelvis. When we think about the core we often think first of the external musculature, the muscle which gives the ‘six pack’ appearance, a.k.a the Rectus Abdominis, but there is much more to the core than this muscle alone.

Let’s break the core up into two groups: anterior muscles and posterior muscles

Anterior muscles of the core

These are the muscles located at the front of the trunk and they include: the Rectus Abdominis which is important for moving the rib cage in relation to the pelvis, Internal and External Obliques which together control rotation and side bends, and the Transversus Abdominis which is often referred to as the ‘corset muscle’, it helps to compress the ribs, not unlike a corset, to aid in spine and pelvic stability.

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Image: http://leanmuscleproject.com/abdominal-muscles/

 

Posterior muscles of the core

This group of muscles are located at the back of the trunk and they are: The Erector Spinae which is a bundle of muscles and tendons that lie in the groove at the side of the spine and help the spine rotate, the Deep Multifidus which is an important stabiliser of the lower back before the limbs move, and the Quadratus Lumborum, connecting the pelvis to the spine, assisting the diaphragm in inhalation, and in flexion of the trunk. Two other muscles which help to stabilise the trunk and are often not considered are the Lower Trapezius and the Latissimus Dorsi which help to depress the shoulder and aid in side bending movements.

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Image: http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/build-your-core

Other important muscles of the core

In addition to the anterior and posterior muscles of the core there are three other important muscles which include the diaphragm, the pelvic floor and the Iliopsoas. Learning to engage these muscles correctly can facilitate core stability and help to further support the link between the upper and lower parts of the body.

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Image: http://stoneathleticmedicine.com/2014/01/low-back-pain-in-runners-in-a-battle-of-muscle-supremacy-evil-prevails/

 

So just what is core stability and why do performing artists need it?

There is often more of a focus on strengthening the core with a large focus on planking and abdominal exercises e.g. sit ups and crunches, however working on the external core muscles alone can lead to key weaknesses in supporting the whole body in movement.

Core control involves more than just strengthening the abdominals it involves coordination of muscles to support the spine, it is all about creating a stable base from which the limbs work.

Until there is a level of stability in the core, it will be more difficult to safely achieve a level of strength in the core throughout dynamic movement.

Core stability and injury

Another reason why performing artists require core stability is to aid in the reduction of injury risk. If we lack core stability it has been suggested that we are more prone to lower limb injuries, back injuries and it has also been suggested that a weak core could contribute to shoulder injuries, all of which are common across performing artists. Consider a dancer lacking adequate core stability, placing unusual demands on the body which could apply additional loading to the spine and pelvis area, or a musician simply carrying and holding their instrument in a position which is not natural for the spine. Core stability can aid in these types of movement and help to protect the back and pelvis and ultimately the limbs.

 

Effective and safe ways to train core stability

So we want to train and enhance our core stability but how do we go about it in a safe and effective way? Firstly understanding the anatomy of the core and each muscles job can go a long way to understanding how to train them to do the role they are meant to do. It is then important to train all of these muscles collectively, to avoid excess strain on the more superficial muscles (e.g. Rectus Abdominis and External Obliques) the deep muscles must be working too (e.g. Transversus Abdominis). Finding a training programme which involves a combination of strength, endurance, power and proprioceptive work will help to train the muscle’s patterning, exercises which involve balance work and resistance work which challenges stability is thought to be very effective. Pilates classes/exercises are an excellent way to learn to engage and utilise the core muscle group to enhance its stability. Exercises which incorporate the use of an uneven surface, such as air discs or BOSU balance trainers, will aid in the training of balance and proprioceptive awareness and will challenge the core further.

If you are a performing artist and you are considering enhancing your core stability make sure you train safely, targeting those deep muscles too, both at the front and back of the trunk, it’s not always about crunches and sit ups!

Felicity Beach

Graduate Intern, Health and Dance Science