Healthy Dance Practice
by Edel Quin, Dance Educator and MSc Dance Science Programme Leader, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
These are exciting times for the development of dance health and wellbeing! As a former professional dancer and the current Programme Leader for the MSc Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance it has been a long-standing goal of mine to support dancers in being able to reach their optimum potential through education and application of research-informed practices.
September 2014 saw the collaboration between the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS) and Safe in Dance International (SiDI), to promote healthy dance practice through their respective education programmes. SiDI aims to support, develop, encourage and endorse the implementation of Healthy Dance Practice world-wide through a range of certificate and study options. The work that SiDI undertakes is based on knowledge and application of 10 core principles (developed with input from key dance and dance science educators and researchers) that are seen as essential for anyone practicing or teaching dance. They cover areas such as the safe dance environment, physical and psychological needs of the dancer, and an awareness of tailoring one’s practice to the “individual” dancing body.
A more recent initiative, available since January 2015, is the Performance Optimisation Package (POP). The POP provides dancers with a tailored health cash plan, fitness and musculoskeletal screening and Dance UK annual membership. POP members can book twice a year for a musculosketal screening session offered by NIDMS dance scientists and healthcare practitioners held at Trinity Laban in London and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre. Screenings will include a functional physiotherapy observation, flexibility tests and a range of muscular power, endurance and strength assessments in addition to one-to-one feedback. The package has been designed to complement the existing specialist healthcare available at National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS) NHS clinics and will be invaluable for dance students and professionals without access to comprehensive ‘in-house’ health provision.
Initiatives such as these are raising the standards, expectations and opportunities for healthy dance education, training and performance. Thanks to the ongoing collaborative endeavours of Dance UK, NIDMS and SiDI, research-informed practice is being effectively acknowledged and promoted. We have come far in ensuring better provision for the health and wellbeing of the dancer – and I am positive for an ever better future!
Originally published in Dance UK magazine, Issue 89 – Spring 2015