California comes to Trinity Laban | Brooke Smiley and Gianna Burright on their home from home

In April 2017, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance hosted a performance by The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Dance Company. The programme included works by renowned choreographers Jose Limon, Anna Halprin, Andrea Miller, Stephanie Gilliland and Trinity Laban MFA Choreography student Gianna Burright. Gianna is a UCSB alumnus and was the key individual in facilitating this visit. There was also a roundtable discussion about the work of Anna Halprin and Limon repertory masterclasses.

In November 2016 Gianna returned home to California for an eight-day residency with the current UCSB company members. This was extremely special for Gianna as she was previously a member of the company, graduating with a BFA in Dance, in 2015. Gianna was able to use her practice in body-to-body transfer and evolving MFA research which she has developed during her time at Trinity Laban with the dancers from UCSB.

The UCSB Dance Company’s evening show closed with Anna Halprin’s The Paper Dance from Parades and Changes (1965)directed by California native and Trinity Laban alumnus Brooke Smiley. Brooke graduated from Trinity Laban in 2008 after completing an MA in Dance Performance (Transitions Dance Company). After graduating, Brooke danced with Michael Clark Company, Ventura Dance Company and Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre. Her choreographic works have been shown both in the UK and USA. Brooke also holds a California Contractors License and has trained in super adobe earth architecture. We caught up with Brooke and Gianna to find out more about their comparable journeys.

Brooke: “I was in Europe auditioning and my mentor brought me to Trinity Laban. I took a ballet class with Transitions and they asked me to consider joining. Being from California, Transitions was the first time I was around a lot of people from different countries. I loved learning that there are as many different ways to do something as there are people. The friendships formed this base of community and meaning for me in dance. Working with David Waring (Artistic Director, Transitions Dance Company) was amazing as it allowed me to be with my own research and thoughts. Dr Martin Hargreaves was a mentor for me too and meeting these dance researchers who had a plethora of experience was wonderful to ground into.

Gianna and I met through Mira Kinglsey, a previous Professor of Dance at UCSB. She invited me to teach a workshop to the seniors at UCSB, and the next year they asked me to teach improvisation. She put me into contact with Gianna and through this series of random circumstances has come magic.”

It was interesting to find out more about how Brooke & Gianna connect between the UK & US:

Brooke: “I feel like we’re redefining what’s possible together rather than being separate. With the National Endowment of the Arts potentially being absolved through Trump, everybody’s scratching for that funding which makes things very competitive. There’s more funding in Europe which is why I worked here. Saying that, New York has really shifted and changed from 10 years ago when I graduated. In this new constriction of times and thrashing of systems we can find a way for institutions to have the heart to find one and other.”

Trinity Laban has recently forged a number of international partnerships, resulting in major exchange projects with the likes of the Korean National University of the Arts, the National Taiwan University of Arts, Beijing Dance Academy and the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts. Trinity Laban’s “Brexchange” featured visiting students from the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Sweden, and Trinity Laban also recently became the first UK conservatoire to partner with the Fulbright Commission, offering the new Fulbright-Trinity Laban Award in Music and Dance.

Brooke: “Gianna has made this connection between Trinity Laban and UCSB and I’m very excited about how we are beginning to come together. When it comes from the heart of a person it’s real but I don’t think there’s necessarily a drive to connect on a bigger scale, but on the local micro scale there is. We’re finding our own way. Water works like that – a little drop, a little trickle, and it begins to carve out the rocks over time. I feel like that’s what Gianna has done. It’s powerful.”

Gianna: “It’s so great to see connections being made between institutions internationally and is something which needs to continue to happen.”

Gianna’s piece for the UCSB dancers, Anywhere I Can See the Moon, is deeply relevant to this discussion. The work investigates the common thought and concern of “home”.

Gianna: “I’ve come to realise home isn’t what we think home is anymore, you can find homes in many different ways. It’s interesting to notice how that shifts and how temporary the word really is. I’ve always wanted to live internationally and have an international career so coming to Trinity Laban seemed like a good starting point. It’s a really great place that allows you to apply many different approaches to whatever you’re looking at, and supports you to be creative in the development of your research.”

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Image: Anywhere I Can See The Moon taken by Steven Sherill

Upon graduation from UCSB, Gianna was awarded the Tonia Shimin Award for Excellence and Promise in the Field of Dance and The Corwin Award for Choreography. Gianna is a proud recipient of the Trinity Laban Postgraduate Dance Award 2015-2017, a Leverhulme 2016-2017 Scholar and the 2016 recipient of the Lesley-Anne Sayers Research Award.

Gianna: “Receiving the Lesley-Anna Sayers Research Award has been a highlight of my time at Trinity Laban. I was able to take myself and 3 dancers to Amsterdam to work with choreographer, performer and movement researcher Ria Higler. That week was completely life changing for me and has shifted the way I work, the way I see the body and the way I live in my own body. I’m so grateful for that opportunity.”

Alice White

Graduate Intern – Press & PR

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

 

 

Internship Experience: Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Anna May Williams

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.

Promoting the Dance Scientists of the Future

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It is well known that the future success of students is not based on curriculum content alone. Higher Educational Institutions need to provide opportunities for learners to engage with and interrogate life after study, whether that is further postgraduate study and research or becoming a professional. Networking with those from beyond the student’s home institution and engaging with narratives of learners’ journeys help current students make decisions about their future in an informed way. In addition, the health and wellbeing of performing artists is a firmly established element of the provision Trinity Laban has been developing through a range of support mechanisms for current students and professional performers.  To incubate the future batch of specialists, trained in understanding the performing body, our Dance Science department is a world leading centre of research and teaching. As part of our provision for MSc students studying Dance Science, and undergraduates who may be interested in further study in Dance Science, an annual networking and careers day has been opened up to Dance science students and graduates from across the UK.

The first Dance Science Student and Graduate Networking and Careers Day, held on 12th June, enabled students to establish connections, share ideas and discover opportunities. Organised by Edel Quin, Programme Leader of the MSc Dance Science, the day served to provide a professional insight into the world of Dance Science. The programme included presentations by current and past students from a range of MSc Dance Science programmes. Helen Laws, the Manager of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, also provided a talk on the educational, health care and research activities of the Institute and the role that Dance Science plays in the realisation of these endeavours.

One attendee noted ‘…the atmosphere created and the encouragement to share ideas and experiences with people from various institutions was great!’ and another commented on the inspirational entrepreneurship within the narratives of the past graduates as giving her ‘…confidence to find ways to share my knowledge with the dance world.’

For more details of our Dance Science programmes and provision for the healthy performer please visit the Dance Science website

Creative Thinking: Creative Teaching: Creative Practice

StudyThe Learning & Teaching environment at Trinity Laban Conservatoire focuses on the creative and innovative. Our tutors are focussed on developing and embedding approaches within their teaching that enable our students to become emboldened in creative practice. When you walk around our distinctive buildings and experience the vibe of the learning culture what is obvious is that creativity in its multifaceted guise is the foundation, whether you are involved in historic performance practice or devising contemporary choreography. Alongside this, part of our ethos (as highlighted in our Learning & Teaching Plan) is celebrating engagement with the broader creative and Higher Education communities to enable our expertise developed in teaching and creative practice to benefit those wider audiences. Recently, two members of the Faculty of Music have been disseminating their work, at external events. Both promote the harnessing of creativity within educational and creative parameters and their presentations reflect the philosophies and strategies that underpin their teaching.

Tim Palmer, Senior Lecturer in Music Education, recently took part in an HEA sponsored seminar at the University of York. The event, ‘Creative teaching for creative learning in higher academic music educationheld on May 13th 2013 bought together experts in the field to discuss creative teaching approaches and strategies for developing creativity in music students.  Tim’s paper titled ‘Deconstructing and Reimagining Repertoire in Teacher Training’ was presented with the assistance of a current PGCE student and explored strategies to flip the conventional approaches to using repertoire as a teaching tool. Details of the seminar, including resources can be found on the HEA website: here

In another creativity focused event, Trinity Laban’s Creative Director of CoLab, Joe Townsend, presented at the Culture Capital ‘s ‘Research, Creativity and Business 2: Making the Extraordinary’ held at the Cass Business School on May 22nd 2013. Joe led a workshop called ’CoLab – Risk, Flow and supporting collaborative work’  which reflected on his experience from the past two years in leading the annual CoLab fortnight and explored the question of how organisations and artists can nurture a meaningful exchange as a part of a creative process. The workshop explored the challenges faced in leading collaborative processes and what competencies can be developed through this approach.  For further details of the event, please explore the Culture Capital website here.

Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes of endeavour, and the work our colleagues are contributing to the field excites and challenges us. In a time when pressures on creativity and space for experimentation is threatened, it is more vital than ever that we promote new ways of thinking, seeing and doing  to ensure that the 21st Century is as creatively rich as possible.