Foundations for Excellence Information Sheets

Foundations for Excellence 

Foundations for Excellence began as a Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Music and Dance Scheme conference in February 2009 at Dartington Hall. The energy that was evident at this event made it clear to the programme committee that this work needed to be developed and distributed further; to provide a resource to as many practitioners and young musicians and dancers to have access to the latest research, ideas, examples and good practice as possible.

Foundations for Excellence existed to share research, resources and best practice for the support and development of talented young musicians, singers and dancers. This was achieved through the online resource hub, the commission of new information sheets on a variety of specific topics and a biennial conference.

The information sheets below were created by Foundations for Excellence in collaboration with One Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme, and are now made available via this website.


Beyond physical practice by Terry Clark, Sanna M. Nordin and Imogen J. Walker, Trinity Laban

Being successful within the performing arts requires much more than just high levels of technical facility. Efficient use of psychological skills is a key part of effective training and performing. Central to this are the skills of goal setting, imagery, arousal control and self-talk, which can be used within the studio or practice room and when preparing to go on stage.

The intricate dance between motivation, goals, and success in the performing arts: A guide for teachers by Sanna Nordin-Bates PhD, CPsychol; Research Fellow, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

All teachers want motivated students who strive for and reach increasingly challenging goals. But perhaps everybody does not realise that motivation and goals are not something inherent to students. This info sheet presents motivational climate characteristics that are task involving and ego-involving and explores the importance of motivational theories in the supporting of young musicians and dancers.

Losing yourself in the work, or lost to nerves? by Imogen J. Walker, Sanna M. Nordin and Terry Clark, Trinity Laban

Performance anxiety is a common occurrence for performing artists. It is often interpreted negatively, but can actually help performance when at an optimum level. If performers can interpret their anxiety symptoms as helpful, they will feel more in control and confident that their anxiety will not negatively affect their performance. A number of techniques can help those affected by excessive anxiety, making them more likely to become absorbed in the moment and experience the optimal performance state called flow.

The nature of motivation: a question of ‘Why?’ by Eleanor Quested, Jennifer Cumming and Joan L. Duda, University of Birmingham

To train and perform as a musician or dancer requires high levels of effort, commitment and determination. There is little doubt that it ‘takes a certain something’ to rehearse and train for hour upon hour, as well as bounce back after unsuccessful auditions or periods of injury. These qualities are often captured by the term ‘motivation’. Motivation can be defined as the ‘drive to strive’ and is often inferred by the apparent effort and intensity directed towards a targeted behaviour. This infosheet explores the subject and offers strategies to sustain or improve the quality of your motivation.

Managing Joint Hypermobility – A Guide for Dance Teachers by Isobel Knight MSc, Moira McCormack MSc, and Howard Bird MA MD FRCP

Joint hypermobility (a larger than average range of movement at a joint), which can be inherited or acquired through training, is common among dancers because of the aesthetic and flexibility requirements of dance. Many hypermobile dancers notice that their skin, fascia, ligaments and joint capsule stretch more than normal, causing difficulty in joint control. A proportion also experience symptoms of Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS), usually pain, in which parts of the body other than the joints are also affected. However, through exercise and good dance technique, naturally flexible dancers as well as those with HMS can strengthen the muscular system and control the range of joint movement while making the most of their advantageous line and aesthetics It is essential that teachers and dancers understand the unique demands of hypermobilty. This sheet gives recommendations for training for hypermobile dancers including training in imagery, proprioception, posture, and endurance, as well as psychological considerations.