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

 

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

Reflection on placement with Trinity Laban Dance Science

Recently I completed a 40 hour placement with Trinity Laban in the Dance Science and Health departments. I gained an insight into the research that takes place at Trinity Laban, the MSc Dance Science programme, and the busy lives of everyone involved in making it such a wonderful and inspiring place to be.

I’m currently a third year student on the undergraduate Dance course at Kingston University and planned to do this placement in the hope of finding out more about the Dance Science world and what career paths I could take in this area. Let’s not forget that Trinity Laban offered the first Dance Science Master’s degree in the world, so it really felt like I was at the heart of all the action, at the number one place to be! It was really interesting to talk to the likes of Dr Emma Redding (Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban) and Edel Quin (Programme Leader MSc Dance Science at Trinity Laban), who both have a lot of experience in Dance Science and have developed the Dance Science course at Trinity Laban. But it was equally fascinating to talk to the Graduate Interns (who had completed the MSc at Trinity Laban), and everyone in between, to discover everyone’s plans for the future.

I was also lucky enough to undertake my placement the same week that the Dance Science department had their Health Interdisciplinary Day, and so I learnt the difficulties of ‘measuring’ results in research studies. I also learnt the difference dance can make in community settings, and the wide range of participants the department work with, whether school children or hospital patients. What I found most valuable, not only on this day but throughout the whole week, was the impact that qualitative data has. Before I started my placement I had only thought about the importance and relevance of quantitative data. Over the week, I learnt that deciding what to measure and recording qualitative changes is really hard, as in the dance field researchers are dealing with the complexity of the human body and not just a ‘lab rat’. The problem the Dance Science world then face is that, given how new and evolving the field is, it is a challenge to guess what kind of research will be awarded funding.

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It was also exciting working with Lucie Clements (PhD Candidate and Guest Lecturer), getting a sneak peek into the psychological work the department are currently doing with international colleagues on the motivational environments dancers work in and the type of environment dancers would prefer. This allowed me to learn more about the psychological side of Dance Science.  When I arrived at Trinity Laban I only really had basic knowledge on the physiological side of the field and this is what attracted me towards the area. I left Trinity Laban having more knowledge on both physical and mental aspects, and if anything being more interested into how psychological research in Dance Science can help not only dancers but also other communities.

Overall I can say that I really enjoyed my week long placement in the Dance Science and Health departments at Trinity Laban. All the staff and students were really welcoming, which made every activity enjoyable whether interviewing staff, learning about the equipment in the science lab and conditioning studio, or even formatting documents! Now I have completed my placement I can say I’m even more eager to have a career within Dance Science and so I would like to thank everyone who helped or talked to me during the week.

 

I hope to see you all soon!

 

Rhiannon Bromley, BA Dance student, Kingston University.

Performance Anxiety

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Stage fright, the heebie jeebies, a bad case of the willies. Call it what you will, but one thing is for sure, performance anxiety is the cruel mistress of many performing artists.

According to a recent survey conducted by Help Musicians UK, 75% of musicians said they had suffered from performance anxiety. Similarly, research from One Dance UK demonstrated that 92% of dancers had experienced psychological difficulty in the last 12 months, with over 30% experiencing performance anxiety. But what exactly is performance anxiety, why does it happen, and the big one we all want the answer to; how on earth do we get a grip of it?

Lets get down to the science-y bit. Psychologists seem to agree that anxiety manifests in two key ways; somatically and cognitively. Somatic symptoms are those we experience physically, such as sweating, racing hearts and needing the bathroom, causing us to feel agitated and uncomfortable. They’re all signs that our body is out of sync with its neutral state, signs of physiological arousal. These experiences are common in all pressurised situations, from test-taking, public speaking and sport, to the performing arts, dance and music. For some, symptoms occur long before performance, from early days in rehearsal. For others, symptoms hit us like a tonne of bricks, right out of the blue, when we’re standing in the wings.

Now here’s the interesting stuff. All of these symptoms have something else in common, something which differs vastly from anxiety. They’re all symptoms of excitement. Just like that feeling of waking up on your birthday, or falling in love, they are symptoms that are telling us that we are energised, ready for action, and prepared to experience something deeply rewarding, of great value.

But what about those cognitive symptoms, those we experience mentally such as worry, apprehension and nerves that ultimately can lead us to a mental block? There’s pretty solid evidence that performance anxiety occurs when an individual perceives an imbalance between the demands made, and their capacity to meet the demands. The key word here is perceived. What if we changed our perceptions of our symptoms, and our perceptions of performance? What if we changed up our mind-set and tried interpreting those symptoms as a sign of preparedness, and positive anticipation. Research we’ve carried out both here at Trinity Laban, and research by international colleagues, demonstrated that perceiving an upcoming performance as a challenge (a chance to thrive and demonstrate competency) rather than a threat (a chance to fail) lead to decreased anxiety experiences in both the days leading up to and very moments prior to performance.

Next time you have an assessment, performance or audition coming up, notice your immediate somatic response. Your interpretation is key. Is this related to a threat? Or actually, is this an optimal challenge? Is your mental investment really worry, or is thinking about an upcoming audition merely a sign that this is something of real value to you, an exciting experience? Learning to change mental habits is by no means an easy process, but a process it certainly is – which means time, patience and trial and error are key. Reframing your thoughts about your next performance may be the first steps towards managing your performance anxiety, and developing healthy techniques for looking after your psychological wellbeing is just as important as nurturing your dance or music technique.

 

Lucie Clements, PhD candidate Dance Science & Lecturer in Performance Psychology.

Kathak Dance Science Research at IADMS 26th Annual Conference

Upon embarking on the months of thesis writing on the MSc Dance Science programme I made a firm promise to my project supervisor that I would aim to present my work at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science conference 2016 in Hong Kong. seema-iadms
After graduating I submitted abstracts to the IADMS committee and after a long and nail-biting wait, it was announced in April 2016 that my abstracts had been accepted for, not just one, but two presentations! We were absolutely delighted and eager to disseminate my research based on the Indian classical dance form Kathak. Being the first research of its kind, we had to ensure that it would be informative and relevant to the conference, which aims to enhance the knowledge of its delegates, who are mainly dancers, teachers, researchers and medics.

The title of my research was ‘The effects of active and passive conditions on recovery after intense Kathak dance activity’, which in layman’s terms translates to, what happens to the dancer’s body after an intense dance performance/rehearsal without cool-down? The aim of sharing this research was to inform the delegates about the benefits of cool-down. (Look out for my article in forthcoming health posts for more information). The first presentation featured as part of the poster presentation series, where I reduced my thesis down to an informative A0 poster, conveying the key points and findings from the research. The second was a movement session, an opportunity to demonstrate Kathak dance in both its slow and intense forms. The session’s aim was to discuss Kathak’s physiological, biomechanical and physical components and to allow the delegates to experience Kathak. Finally it would allow them to experience cool-down, in a structured form, appropriate for the level of activity that they had just undertaken.

The experience was daunting at first as I opened my research to a new audience, however, I felt that the master’s programme in Dance Science had prepared me for this and I was able to present in a professional manner. The captive and inquisitive audience made me feel at ease within the environment that I had trained to be in.

Presenting at IADMS gave me added confidence in my work, allowing me to talk in depth about the subject and to accept suggestions for improvement. It provided me with the opportunity to meet other researchers who had a common interest in the subject of recovery, and exposed potential crossovers with current research.

IADMS always provides me with a powerful insight into ballet and contemporary dance, which deepens my knowledge as a Dance Scientist and adds an invaluable medical perspective. Now I have been able to contribute research to IADMS on an alternative dance genre, Kathak, that had not yet been investigated. This widens the pool of Dance Science research and offers knowledge to Kathak performers and teachers alike.

A very positive outcome of the conference was connecting with other Indian classical dance researchers, Physiotherapists, Dance Scientists and Practitioners. I am now working on setting up an international organisation to disseminate our research on a shared platform.

With the support of my research supervisor Sarah Needham-Beck and Jatin Ambegaeonkar, an Athletic Trainer and professor at George Mason University in Virginia, USA,  I will be submitting my work to various journals to be published.

Exciting times ahead.

Seema De Jorge-Chopra

Dance Science Graduate Intern

 

 

Vibrancy and Transparency: Fascinations of a Fulbright Scholar

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Image by Megan Moore

Madison McGrew, a student from the University of South Florida, has received a US Student Fulbright Award to enable her to study MSc Dance Science at Trinity Laban. Here she talks of her journey as a dancer and her dreams in osteopathy.

What attracted you to study at Trinity Laban?

It is hard to say what first attracted me to study at Trinity Laban, but I think dance injuries had a lot to do with it. I accrued nine musculoskeletal injuries throughout my time training at a dance studio in small-town Florida. Side-lined, I often read articles from the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS), and I noted that most of the research informing those articles came out of Trinity Laban.

Later in undergraduate school, I visited the Harkness Center in New York City where I met Leigh Heflin, alumnus of the MSc Dance Science programme; I was in awe of her vast knowledge-base and ability to cohesively communicate dance and science.

Not long after, I attended Performing Arts Medicine Association conferences where I met other notable scholars in the field of dance science who spoke very highly of the opportunities at Trinity Laban—and with it being the first institution in the world to offer a degree in dance science and subsequently contribute the most to dance science research, publications, and conference presentations—I could not dispute them!

I remember when I first visited the Laban Building in 2015, there were two themes quite literally built into its architecture: vibrancy and transparency—which not ironically, I find are values that streamline the conversation between dance and science and have been pivotal in my learning journey thus far. Moreover, with Trinity Laban situated in London, a pulsating, centralized hub of culture and innovation, there is no room for lag in applying scientific theory to community dance practice, and that is equally exciting!

What was your reaction to finding out you would receive the Fulbright Scholarship?

I was speechless. I held off telling anyone for a couple days for fear it was all a dream. Even today, it remains unfathomable. Sylvia Plath, Linus Pauling, James D. Watson…they were all Fulbrighters. And now I am one too? I cannot believe it.

How do you feel the Scholarship will change your life?

I feel it already has. I have always felt a sense of civic and global responsibility, but now with a Fulbright Scholarship and the support of two nations, the responsibility has only grown. In short, I feel empowered because someone out there believes I can make a difference.

The almost year-long application process alone changed my life. I was challenged to reflect on my experiences and examine how I can use those experiences to benefit others; it made succinct my views of the world and my purpose within it.

The Scholarship will allow me to uniquely explore, side by side, two research areas that are important to me but have long been remarked as being at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Dance science as a field is largely unfledged in the US. While there are certainly pioneers and providers dedicated to dancer health and performance, nothing quite like Trinity Laban exists in the States.

But perhaps the most life-changing will be the people I meet. With this opportunity, there is a strong promise of friendship. At Trinity Laban, I will be surrounded by a diverse group of individuals all working toward the common goals of enhancing dancer potential and investigating the means in which dance impacts populations. And through the Fulbright Commission, I will join like-minded students called and inspired to increase mutual understanding between countries, cultures, and peoples in their own creative, thought-provoking ways. I cannot wait to exchange ideas and shape these relationships.

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Image by Kyle Scharf

What do you wish to achieve while studying here?

Beyond the curriculum of the Dance Science programme, I hope to use my independent time to get involved in other research and community initiatives. Recently, I worked with a ballet professor on a film using movement themes to raise awareness for human sex trafficking. The project helped me realize that as many times as I have relied on healthcare for my dance injuries, I have conceivably relied on dance as a form of healing far more.

How might you use your degree to further your career?

Witnessing my own relationship with dance, a healthcare system, and healing, I became interested in pain tolerance. Just as dance is a crucial line of communication, so too is pain. It has been said that dance artists experience the world differently, but perchance they perceive pain differently. I think dancers, and myself included, use pain as a behavioural motivator. Dance is so intimately linked to our self-identity that pain becomes an identifier by proxy. A constant subjugation to pain, however, alters our internal points for pain evaluation. Therefore, when medical intervention becomes necessary, the line of communication between dancer and practitioner can get altered as well.

I recently read an article online in which Marijn Rademaker of the Dutch National Ballet recounted being asked by a nurse: “Don’t you think it’s time to find another job? I don’t think your knees are going to be okay for this line of work.” I do not believe this sort of exchange should be encouraged between any individuals, much less between practitioner and dancer; but it’s this sort of dialogue that perpetuates miscommunication. While at Trinity Laban, I want to look at the psychological and physiological bases for pain tolerance in dancers, and evaluate the role these factors play in communicating pain. It is my greatest hope that upon completion of my degree, I will be able to contribute to the conversation on effective pain communication and treatment straight away.

In undergraduate school, I took all of the prerequisites (apart from taking the MCAT examination) to progress to medical school in the United States. I shadowed a great deal of osteopaths during that time and I believe their holistic approach to medicine echoes a dance science view of the integrated self—the mind, body, and spirit. The MSc Dance Science will provide me the keys to unlock a career as a judicious doctor of osteopathic medicine specializing in dancer care. I hope to continue to help build the dance science community in the States, and I hope that by being a physician housed under the Western model of healthcare, I can encourage others outside the field of dance science to embrace dance as a powerful tool of expressing and assessing sensation that bridges demographic divides.

Charlotte Constable

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

Internship Experience: Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

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MSc Dance Science student Anna Williams (pictured) tells us all about her insightful experience at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Last year I was granted the wonderful opportunity to take up an internship at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in New York, USA. As a part-time student of the MSc Dance Science programme, I was on a ‘gap year’ and was looking for relevant work experience and productive ways to fill my time off. With very little industry experience at the time, and being based 5000km away, it was a very pleasant surprise to receive an email of invitation. Some people asked me why I resigned from my full-time job to head to the US for an unpaid internship, but I assured them that it was worth it. I hope to enlighten you as to why this experience was worth the sacrifices, how it has prepared me for further study towards my masters and into my career in the dance science sector.

After an eight-hour flight and two days of settling into my home for the next two months, the first day of the internship arrived. Receiving clearance from the medical and immigration departments at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, I was ready to meet the Harkness team. On arrival I was warmly greeted by Trinity Laban graduate Leigh Heflin, who now works as Programme Coordinator at the Harkness. We had an informal meet and greet, spoke about my interests in dance medicine, and created my schedule for the next six weeks.

The internship mainly consisted of observing and shadowing many of the practitioners working at the organisation. I spent a lot of time at the Harkness’ Physical Therapy Department, where I shadowed many physiotherapists who were treating dancers following a variety of complaints and injuries. Some dancers had chronic, long term injuries, and others were in rehabilitation following surgical repair. Every therapist I worked with was friendly, ensured to involved me in the conversations with the patient, and were all happy to answer any questions that I had. As an intern, my additional duties in the clinic involved maintaining the general upkeep and cleanliness of the studio and ensuring that all equipment and resources were ready for use. I was always pleasantly greeted every day by everyone at the organisation, from therapists to reception staff; I felt at home almost immediately.

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I had the opportunity to sit in and observe many Injury Prevention Assessments; a service offered by the Harkness which involves an evaluation of dance technique, strength, flexibility and a review of injury history. These allowed the dancer to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses with the aim to prevent them from injury in the future. At the end of the session, the dancer is given an educational hand-out, detailing an individually specific exercise program. Upon completion of my internship, I had the opportunity to take part in an Injury Prevention Assessment myself, kindly offered by Athletic Trainer, Megan.

The internship allowed me to travel around New York and meet dancers from external organisations. I accompanied two of the Harkness’ Athletic Trainers to visit Dance Theatre of Harlem. As well as having the great opportunity to meet the company dancers (and get a sneaky peek of them in rehearsal!), I learned about the role of the Athletic Trainers on their twice-weekly visit to the company studios, providing immediate care to company dancers with a wide range of complaints. I also accompanied another member of staff to PACE University, to meet their dance students and observe a lecture and practical workshop on dance injury prevention. As well as visiting various locations around the city, I had the pleasure to take a picturesque train ride out of the city, and travel up-state to SUNY Purchase College, where I observed Athletic Trainer Lauren work with student dancers.

Another fascinating part of my experience was shadowing at the dance clinic. Most of the patients had been referred to see one of the orthopaedic physicians for an array of reasons, including diagnosis of symptoms, X-rays, MRI scans and also for surgical procedures. Likewise with the physiotherapists, all of the doctors I met were extremely friendly and happy to answer my questions. This part of the internship was particularly educational, as I had the chance to see some X-rays and scans, and to discover what injuries physically look like from the inside. It also taught me so many new anatomical terms, and educated me on several injuries that I had never heard of. A personal highlight was observing a patient successfully walking unaided for the first time after reconstructive knee surgery. Through the dance clinic I also met the Harkness research team, and learned more about their injury tracking research project, of which I got to assist with some data collection and data entry.

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Throughout the experience I met dancers of all ages, ranging from childhood to retired adults. They were from all dance disciplines, from classical and contemporary to hip-hop and breakdance. Every dancer had a different story; some were in full-time training hoping to dance professionally or were already performing in New York dance companies, some were teachers and others just danced recreationally. Some dancers I would only meet the once, others on a weekly basis, getting to know them quite well over the course of my visit. I loved the variety of the internship, I was learning something different and meeting new people almost every day. I liked making my journey on the subway every morning not knowing what to expect from the day ahead.

I would thoroughly recommend the experience to any student interested in progressing into or already studying dance science; or to anyone from other related fields such as physiotherapy or sports therapy who are interested in working with dancers. It was a highly insightful experience to learn more about and be part of the dance medicine field in the US – which further convinced me to continue my work in this rapidly growing field back home in London. I came home very excited for what my future career holds, looking forward to returning to Trinity Laban and diving back in to my MSc programme.

Working life abroad was an experience I enjoyed enormously, and would recommend to anyone. I had visited New York previously so was somewhat familiar with the city itself – but needless to say it wasn’t any less exciting! Although travelling so far completely alone was a daunting and apprehensive experience to begin with, I very quickly settled into the New York lifestyle, and made great friends with the people I lived with as well as great contacts in the field. I had the privilege to enjoy living in a fantastic city, all while participating in one of the most rewarding, educational and insightful experiences of my career thus far. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

To find out more about MSc Dance Science, please visit the Trinity Laban website.