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TH E I NTE R N ATION A L VOICE OF TH E I M PE R I A L SOCI E T Y OF TE ACH E RS OF DA NCI NG THE INTERNATIONAL VOICE OF THE IMPERIAL SOCIET Y OF TEACHERS OF DANCING
Issue 492 • May – August 2021
F E AT U R I N G
Being a pro in a pandemic MAY – AUGUST 2021 ISSUE 492
We speak to our alumnus Marcelino Sambé, Principal at The Royal Ballet
Inspiring teachers The incredible contribution members have made to lockdown-learning
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Members welcome Headquarters 22/26 Paul Street, London EC2A 4QE + 44 (0)20 7377 1577 istd.org Chair Chris Hocking Executive team Chief Executive Ginny Brown email@example.com Director of Dance Liz Dale firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Examinations Janne Karkkainen email@example.com Director of Membership and Communications Gemma Matthews firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Education Louise Molton email@example.com Director of Finance & Operations Keith Stephenson firstname.lastname@example.org Advertise in Dance Magazine Email email@example.com Tel + 44 (0)20 7377 1577 Next copy deadline: Issue 493 (Sep–Dec 2021): Tuesday 25 May 2021 Cover photograph: Marcelino Sambé Dancers Diary ROH Design by Membership and Communications Department Printed by Gemini Print Unit A1 Dolphin Way Shoreham by Sea West Sussex BN43 6NZ © 2021 Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exists to advance excellence in dance teaching and education. Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered No. 00392978 England. Registered Charity No. 250397
“ Together we can ensure the Society builds back stronger” It is my pleasure to welcome you to this edition of Dance, which has been guest edited by our Co-Vice Chair of Trustees, Erin Sanchez, who is also Health, Well-Being, and Performance Manager at One Dance UK. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on every aspect of our lives: the arts, education, the economy, public health, and social cohesion have all suffered. So, it is timely that this magazine focuses on well-being, highlighting some of the personal challenges we have faced and suggesting strategies for supporting ourselves and our students’ recovery. I hope you enjoy reading the inspiring accounts of how our members have supported their students’ well-being over the past year through their innovative approaches to keep dancing. It is also great to read Dr Peter Lovatt’s personal account of how dance contributes to both physical health and mental wellbeing by providing enjoyable opportunities for self-expression, collaboration, and social interaction (page 30). I believe dance is the perfect antidote to the online existence of the past year and that, as we emerge from lockdown, dance teachers have an important part to play in the recovery of their local communities. The post-pandemic world will be a changed landscape and we need to be ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities. So, over the coming months we will be asking all members to participate in a strategic review, which Gemma Matthews (Director of Membership and Communications) outlines on page 17. Feedback from members, students and external artists will be gathered and analysed to identify key business opportunities and will result in a new strategic plan. We want to ensure that every member’s voice is heard, so please look out for the membership survey. Together we can ensure the Society builds back stronger and continues to be there to support you to make a difference to the lives of all those who love to dance. Ginny Brown Chief Executive Dance | Issue 492
News 14 Breaking out of the routine The latest online dancesport masterclasses 17 Shape the future Have your say on the future of your Society
Business 40 From pirouettes to podcasts Registered teacher Sarah Royle discusses how she balances running her business and producing a podcast
International update 48 Europe Carole Watson shares stories of resilience and hope from Italy 50 North America Astrid Sherman shares her thoughts on the evolution of a holistic dance studio 52 Australasia Jess Walker says: “just ask!” 53 Asia Chua Zjen Fong looks at the well-being of our businesses during the pandemic 54 Africa and the Middle East Delia Sainsbury’s perspective on health before curriculum
What's on 86 Highlights Updates on current events and what's on in the industry
Focus on 56 Cecchetti Classical Ballet Vocational dance during lockdown and why it’s okay not to feel okay 60 Classical Greek Dance How dance qualifications can help with university entrance 62 Classical Indian Dance Interview with Swati Raut about how Bharatanatyam dance is beneficial to well-being 64 Contemporary Dance Spotlight on the challenges for dancers who want to have a family 68 Disco, Freestyle, Rock n Roll and Street The benefits of our online competitions 70 Imperial Classical Ballet The value of adult ballet classes 72 Latin American Well-being in the studio 74 Modern Ballroom Promoting the well-being of dancers throughout the pandemic 78 Modern Theatre Looking beyond studio technique 80 National Dance How dance can help the well-being of the older generation of carers 82 Sequence Dance Being inventive in lockdown 84 Tap Dance How dance can help our pupils’ mental health
88 Join the conversation A look at what's trending online
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Issue 492 | May – August 2021
Syphons of Sand ISTD Associate Deborah Norris worked with young dancers to create socially distanced choreography inspired by the Devon coastline
Dancing with cancer, from diagnosis to rehab A personal reflection by Dance Psychologist and ISTD Graduation speaker Dr Peter Lovatt OT HER FE AT URE S
From our guest editor An introduction to this well-being issue of Dance magazine from Co-Vice Chair Erin Sanchez
Surviving or thriving? Society Co-Vice Chair Erin Sanchez explores ideas about mental health
18 The student relationship Dr Imogen Aujla and Professor Joan Duda look at promoting student well-being during COVID-19
Being a pro in a pandemic Marcelino Sambé, ISTD alumnus and Principal at The Royal Ballet, talks about the physical and mental challenges that come with repeated lockdowns for an elite professional ballet dancer
29 Finding your balance in a topsy turvy world Chartered Psychologist Dr Lucie Clements shares her methods 36 Dance for Parkinson's Registered teachers Johanna Hadley and Kezia Mitchell use dance to help people with Parkinson’s 44 Mental health support strategies Psychotherapist Nicolette Wilson-Clarke shines a spotlight on dancers’ mental health
Inspiring teachers Boosting dancers' well-being in 2021 and beyond Dance | Issue 492
An introduction to this well-being issue of Dance magazine from Co-Vice Chair Erin Sanchez
ONE DANCE UK, DANI BOWER PHOTOGRAPHY. DANCER ZEB SIMPSON
From our guest editor
Erin Sanchez Co-Vice Chair
Why do you dance? I’ve often asked myself that question. When I was a child, I danced because I loved it – pure and simple – a love that was nurtured and enhanced by caring, knowledgeable and informed dance teachers. As I grew up, dance became a vocation, a passion, and a dream I was driven to achieve. It was a challenging road, but I knew what I wanted, I had lots of support from my parents and friends, and the rewards were worth the work. My passion for dance evolved, and now, I dance, teach, and learn about dance to share it with others, and to ‘pay forward’ the gifts that dance, and my dance teachers, gave to me. I’m honoured to be the guest editor of this issue of Dance in my capacity as Co-Vice Chair of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. This year has been a tumultuous and difficult one. It has dismantled normal routine, distanced us from loved ones, interrupted our plans, and transformed our working lives and practices – but it may have also encouraged us to reflect on what is most important in our lives. In the context of the events of the past year, dance feels more important than ever. As we all face the future, this issue features contributions from Society 4
members and guest writers across the world exploring why we dance, what dance does for us, and what we do for dance. The powerful benefits that dance can offer to our physical and mental health are of huge value as we experience a health crisis on a global scale. In this issue we hear from Kim Rogers about supporting her tap students’ well-being by implementing progress charts, positivity jars and the opportunity to express concerns one-to-one (p84). Kezia Mitchell (Jolly) and Johanna Hadley share their inspiring experiences leading dance for those with Parkinson’s (p36) including observing improvements in postural stability, free and confident moment, co-ordination, creativity and self-expression. The older generation of carers connect with children to reduce isolation, increase physical activity and share the physicality and creative patterns of national dances in Heather Burns’ article about her work with Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service (p80) We hear from Geraldine Mannion, senior pupil of Richard Miles: "To anyone who is thinking of starting any sort of dancing, I would say just go for it. It will be the best decision you ever made." (p77) And in a powerfully personal and poignant article, Dr Peter Lovatt (Dr Dance) shares the respite, liberation and joy dance has brought him following a diagnosis with cancer. "There
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Reading this issue, it’s been truly inspiring and motivational to see all that you have done to support physical and mental health, to connect people, to innovate, and to support achievement and excellence through your love of dance.
Left Do you have an outside space that inspires you to dance? Enter the ISTD Challenge www.istd. org/ISTD-Challenge
are good days and bad days and I’m not sure what the future holds. But I do know there are three things that are helping me to get through this ordeal. These are, our amazing NHS, the love and support of my family and friends, and dance." (p30) Building on the psychological benefits, another wonderful reason to dance is the sustained meaning and purpose dance brings through connecting us with our students, colleagues and wider community, even in the face of what may be one of the most physically isolated years of our lives. We dive into the psychology of the student-teacher relationship with Dr Imogen Aujla and Prof Joan Duda, who explore re-routing or adjusting future plans, giving students a role in setting and monitoring goals, acknowledging students’ feelings and experiences, and encouraging connection. "We always make a difference but our positive impact as teachers can be even more pronounced during such extraordinary circumstances. When outside forces have presented difficulties and disruption, how especially important it is that we create an empowering environment within our classrooms and studios." Prof Joan Duda (p20). There are so many teachers among you who have confidently supported their students in this way during the pandemic, and some of them are recognised with reflections
from students in the feature on inspiring teachers (p22). And finally, Carole Watson shares stories of dance providing connection, resilience and hope in Italy, including dancing in local shops and poems and dances created and filmed to send as gifts when connecting in person was not possible (p48). Many of us have had to reinvent ourselves this year. "Dancers and dance teachers are creative, inventive and adaptable," comments registered teacher Diana Clifford (p74), and across the dance sector, we’ve seen ingenuity in the face of the challenges of the pandemic. Dance as a practice is by its nature innovative, creative and dynamic. In his international update from Asia, Chua Zjen Fong explores the digital options that were open to innovate and invigorate business (p52), and registered teacher Sarah Royle shares her inspiration to start her podcast, Diary of a Dance Teacher, whilst maintaining her studio business. (p40) Royal Ballet principal dancer, Marcelino Sambé, explains how lockdowns provided a space to engage differently with his dance practice through Gaga classes and international choreographic collaboration, and to engage with the Black Lives Matter movement, choreographing a work in honour and memory of George Floyd (p10). But adapting to change wasn’t just about the impact of the pandemic this year, and in an entirely different Dance | Issue 492
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ONE DANCE UK, DANI BOWER PHOTOGRAPHY. DANCER REBECCA FOWLER
kind of re-invention, contemporary dancer Elly Braund talks about her experiences of pregnancy and parenthood through her participation in The Pregnant Dancer Project with Chloe Hillyar (p64). Dance can be a place to develop excellence and quality. Developments in knowledge and practice from dance science provide us with information to consider as we support our students, as they work to enhance their abilities and achieve their goals, whether is it an exam in a few months, a lifetime of creating, performing, teaching, or appreciating, or an application to study history at Oxford, as classical Greek student Georgina Stock did (p60). Richard Still (Latin Faculty) reflects on the achievement, fulfilment and direction that innovative online competitions brought in the circumstances of the pandemic (p72). Astrid Sherman reports about the role of dance science in advancing our understanding of conditioning, fitness, hypermobility, use of the mirror, motor learning, nutrition and psychological well-being for dancers and provides tips for integrating dance science into the classroom (p50). Delia Sainsbury shares how she’s used mindfulness classes to support students on studio return in January, and Val Jones discusses the value of going beyond the studio for conditioning, motor control and fitness to enhance technical ability technique (p78). Reading this issue, it’s been truly inspiring and motivational to see all that you have done to support physical and mental health, to connect 6
people, to innovate, and to support achievement and excellence through your love of dance. You have all given so much of yourselves this year, dedicating your energy to your students, supporting friends and colleagues, juggling work and family commitments, and planning for the future, one day at a time. Amidst these many important outward looking concerns, it’s easy to forget about looking after yourself. Shifting our focus to ourselves, Nicolette Wilson Clarke shares helpful mental health self care advice for all of us as we continue into 2021 (p44). Dr Lucie Clements helps us to recognise our strengths, balance our dancing identity with other parts of ourselves and remember what is important to us to find our balance in the topsy turvy reality we are in (p28). Terry Hyde explores feelings of loss, anxiety and grief that may have come up in the past year and reminds us it is okay not to be okay (p58). Jess Walker encourages hard working, autonomous and independent dance teachers to ask for help, and adds: "Remember that we are able to reach out to others when needed.… It’s not a sign of weakness, rather a sign of strength, confidence, and resourcefulness." (p52). I hope that this issue gives you the chance to reflect on how important your work is, and what an incredible contribution you have made through dance to the health, well-being and future of your students over the past year. Thank you, and I hope to see you all soon.
You have made an incredible contribution to the health, well-being and future of your dance students over the past year.
Above Do you have an outside space that inspires you to dance? Enter the ISTD Challenge www.istd.org/ ISTD-Challenge
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Surviving or thriving? Society Co-Vice Chair Erin Sanchez explores some surprising ideas about what it means to thrive and experience mental health.
Let’s be honest. It’s been a tough year. Lockdowns, exponentially increasing work intensity or limited opportunities for work, difficult financial decisions, and physical distance from loved ones have been some of the challenges. But perhaps the freedom from the daily commute, an unexpected opportunity to slow down, and a discovery of totally new ways of being in touch were also a part of this year. Personally, this year I got to see our four children grow (physically and emotionally), I discovered a beautiful place to walk near my home, I felt hugely engaged in my work to help people, and I reflected, a lot, on what was most important in my life. However, I also struggled with significant burnout, anxiety and depression. Thus, I find myself asking, did I survive or did I thrive this year? Thriving can be defined as ‘the joint experience of development and success, which can be realised through effective holistic functioning and observed through the experience of a high-level of well-being and a perceived high-level of performance.’ (Brown, Arnold, Fletcher, & Standage, 2017, p175) So, to thrive, we need to have a chance to grow and experience accomplishment. A real life example of this might be learning a new skill, such as a language, and having success putting it into action by being able to have a conversation with someone. We also need to be holistically functioning, which means to experience high levels of physical, 8
psychological and social well-being and high levels of perceived ability to execute tasks and achieve. Here an example could be a situation where we are excelling in our work and seeing our students developing, we have good close friendships, we eat well, sleep well and feel good about ourselves. By this definition, I certainly did not thrive this year. However, growing understanding of thriving suggests that it can follow on from experience of an adverse event (Brown, Arnold, Fletcher, and Standage, 2017). In this case, thriving would be considered the ability to experience a negative event, and to not only return to functioning (resilience), but also to see enhancements in function. Further, thriving usually follows something called ‘challenge appraisal’, where challenge is viewed as relevant to personal goals and the ability to cope with it seems feasible given the resources available. Having a sense of autonomy, belongness and competence (also called the three basic psychological needs) can support thriving in adversity. (Brown, Sarkar, & Howells, 2020) This presents an interesting viewpoint – looking back on last year, the darkest moments were ones where I felt completely out of my depth and without the resources I needed, and the best moments weren’t always they easiest ones, but the ones where I was challenged in a way that felt important and I had support to keep going. I can also recognise that in the best times, I felt that I had been able to choose how I approached the challenge (autonomy), that I felt a part of a group that valued me as I addressed
REFERENCE S Brown, D J, Arnold, R, Fletcher, D, & Standage, M (2017). Human thriving. European Psychologist. Brown, D J, Sarkar, M, & Howells, K (2020). Growth, resilience, and thriving: a jangle fallacy? In: Routledge. Keyes, C L (2014). Mental health as a complete state: How the salutogenic perspective completes the picture. Bridging occupational, organizational and public health, p179–192.
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Left Student of Licia Baraldi (LISTD), Italy (See page 48)
High mental health
Flourishing & mental illness
High mental illness
Moderate mental health & mental illness
Languishing & mental illness
Flourishing & mental illness
Low mental illness
Low mental health
Mental health is a much more varied state than we might usually believe the challenge (belongness) and that I felt I had some skills to offer to finding a solution (competence). A similar paradox often occurs to me when considering my perceptions of my own overall mental health last year. In 2002, Corey Keyes published a seminal paper suggesting that experiences of mental health, termed flourishing and similar to thriving, could co-exist with experiences of mental illness, such as depressive episodes. Keyes later proposed a diagram (reproduced above) representing this phenomenon (Keyes, 2014) In the green area, I may have no mental illness, and may be experiencing positive psychological, social and emotional well-being, such as being in good spirits, feeling confident and having trusting relationships. I could also be in the blue area, experiencing moderate depression and anxiety, but still having positive emotions, relationships and sense of ability.
Taking this into account I can look back at the past year and find myself on different parts of the wheel at different times. So, what does all of this mean for us, now and in the future? What I take away from this is that mental health is a much more varied state than we might usually believe and actually, you can experience challenges both large and small and still reach mental health. Further, perhaps shifting our focus on how we thrive and experience mental health or what we do in the face of challenge could be useful. • How do we view challenges – are they important to our goals? Do we have the resources to address them?
Above Fig. 11.2 The dual continua model of mental health and mental illness (p182) from Keyes, C L, 2014. Mental health as a complete state: how the salutogenic perspective completes the picture. Bridging occupational, organisational and public health (p179–192).
• Are our basic psychological needs being met to help us engage with challenges – do I have a voice and sense of control over what I am doing? Do I feel connected and a part of my social group? Do I feel competent based on my own internal standards and goals? • Are we aware of the areas of our life that provide positive emotional, social and psychological well-being and do we cultivate them? I certainly do not have any answers, but I know that for me, considering the questions above is a powerful opportunity to support my own well-being. And I hope it will be for you too.
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Being a pro in a pandemic The physical and mental challenges that come with repeated lockdowns for an elite professional ballet dancer. Marcelino Sambé Principal at The Royal ballet
ising young star of The Royal Ballet Marcelino Sambé was on peak form when Coronavirus shut the nation down in March 2020. He spoke to Pippa Cobbing, Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, on Zoom from the Royal Opera House in January 2021, deep into the UK’s third lockdown. Right now, you are back doing daily classes in Covent Garden, how does that feel? I am so grateful to have these hours away from home in a safe space, to sweat, work on my technique and keep motivated. It would be very hard to do it at home, like it was in the first lockdown. It feels safe because we are tested twice a week and stay masked when dancing, even during pas de deux rehearsals. How many hours a day are you at the Royal Opera House at the moment? Our day is very organised. We have morning classes, with solo physio appointments, or we can choose to use the gym. It’s all socially distanced, there are only two people allowed in the whole
gym and it has to be cleaned afterwards, so the Opera House has made us feel very safe and very welcome. We are so happy that, as artists, we are considered high performance athletes. It’s so important to see dance and ballet as athleticism because some people tend to put us in a different category. What did it feel like to be suddenly confined at home for the first lockdown in March 2020? To be completely honest with you, when we first started hearing of the virus and the possibility of going into lockdown, I was in a part of the season that was completely overwhelming, we were working so hard. I had just come out of creating a new ballet called The Cellist with choreographer Cathy Marston. The ballet was based on the life of Jacqueline du Pré and I played the role of the Instrument. It was such a high! It was a year’s worth of working alongside Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Ball. I was doing a lot of shows, which I was loving but it was exhausting. At the same time, I was preparing for my debut as the Prince in Swan Lake with Mayara Magri as Odette/Odile, so we were both super-pumped but also quite scared. When lockdown happened, we were just about to do our first stage calls ahead of the performance about a month later. It was such a busy time! So, the first week we had to stay at home, in my head I naively thought: I will have two weeks rest and take care of
myself, this whole thing will be sorted and I will come back fresh and perform my Swan Lake better than ever. How did The Royal Ballet support you at this time? The Royal Ballet arranged remote daily class, access to Pilates, yoga and conditioning sessions. We could also have contact with the health team if required. The Director of The Royal Ballet arranged regular Zoom meetings, with daily email updates to keep us all up to speed. The dancers had a whole schedule in place, with no pressure to ‘do everything’ (we are always responsible for our own fitness). For the first two weeks, I was working like crazy, doing barre every day, choosing either Pilates or gyrotonics, gym classes, yoga classes
The past year has given me time to reflect on what I’ve achieved and where I’d like to go
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DANCERS DIARY / ROH
Left Marcelino Sambé
and I was also running to keep myself in peak shape. We were offered lots of variety and guest teachers, which was exciting and kept us fresh. At first, we did not have a Harlequin floor at home, then the Royal Opera House sent each of us the flooring and I was able to negotiate a panel of sprung floor so that I could practice allegro. The class would be a barre and a centre on the spot for leg strength, pirouettes, small jumps finishing usually at sissonnes and sometimes double tours. All in my living room, making a huge noise! Afterwards, I would sit exhausted on the sofa because it felt three times harder than being in the studio. I would call my friends and talk about how difficult it was! The third week then came, and nothing seemed to be changing. I thought: maybe I need to be realistic with myself, maybe I won’t be going back any time soon. Maybe I need to look inside, heal myself mentally, recover from the stress of being
in a high-performance setting and look beyond my ballet experience. What can I be looking at? Reading, watching, resting. It was then I really fell into myself and allowed my body to give in. I realised that I needed that before returning to classes with teachers through Zoom. I would tell myself ‘today I’m going to do this, tomorrow I’m going to rest’ and I started reading more – and yes, it was amazing. I never felt panicked about maintaining my fitness because our Director, Kevin O’Hare, was in constant touch to reassure us that when we were able to return to the studio, getting back to full fitness would be a careful process. It is important as an artist to have confidence in the organisation you work for, and even as a freelancer, you must have confidence you can pull it off when the time comes. Artists are survivors, we’re mavericks, not robots!
Were you able to adapt to that very abrupt shift to solitude? Yes, I was able to adapt but that obviously came with its challenges. I’m very fortunate as I was in lockdown with my partner. It’s been an incredible year for growth in our friendship, partnership and love so this was something that I really held onto and put the effort into. It’s very rare for us to have so much time together and we realised we really like each other! I hate being in the grey zone, I like being either in the white or the black, so I decided to completely give in to it and tried not to fight it too much; to see the light and positivity. I was excited to find that my creativity was released in a different way and I was able to look at the online world with different eyes. I just thought: Wow! This is something that can be so positive in our lives and I can connect in a different way, like teaching classes, and doing improvisation classes. I took part in so many online classes and learnt a huge amount, including guided Gaga classes with the Batsheva Dance Company, which is almost like meditation but through your body! You can really go to places with that practice because it is so creative. To be able to do that from home and see all these incredible dancers was amazing… the power! I was able to connect with people in America and get involved in online choreographic projects and there were so many shows to watch! Dance | Issue 492 11
DANCERS DIARY / ROH
Left Marcelino Sambé as Basilio in Don Quixote Right Marcelino Sambé in The Cellist
It sounds like your first lockdown experience was quite wonderful. Were there any times when you felt really pressured either mentally or physically? I’d previously had a year off because of a shin injury. During lockdown, the fact that my shin bones need to be impacted so they can keep healing was on my mind. If you let them go completely, the healing stops, so it was constantly in the back of my head to keep promoting growth and impact. That was a physical concern. I was also worried about being called in to do a Swan Lake performance and not being prepared. Even though I am a positive person, I have to say that my mental health did go through many stages, there were weeks I was less motivated to take part in classes but I allowed myself to be in that space to avoid getting anxious; I allowed myself to go up and down. In April, with the death of George Floyd, I hit a very low point in my life. I remember questioning the idea of
my existence and what it meant. I remembered all sorts of micro-racism I have experienced in the past that I had never really acknowledged. Suddenly, I was at home with a lot of time to think, seeing people sharing similar experiences and able to recognise I had had them too, while at the same time acknowledging that my path has been so beautiful and so many people don’t experience this. I wondered, what can I do to help? All these things made me feel very queasy and uncomfortable. Were you able to resolve and manage those feelings? I have always been aware of the Black Lives Matter movement but I thought: all was fine, humanity is changing. Then this came along, and I realised I should open my eyes because I am part of this. I am not great with words but I thought I would choreograph a work that would be my statement and my manifesto in honour and memory of George Floyd
and everybody who’s experienced police brutality. It had to be dignified – I didn’t want to use somebody else’s suffering to promote my choreography, I wanted to make a statement that felt right to me. The response that I got from the video that I made was so truthful and genuine, exciting and humbling – it gave me a great chance to give back and be part of the movement. I did mask up and attend protests and felt for the first time in my life that I was part of something bigger than myself and could be part of the change. I learnt that it’s important to know how to block others’ anxieties on the subject, to talk with sincerity and honesty instead of fearing their discomfort. That’s how we can make change. Following the first lockdown in March 2020, when were you able to return to work? In August, we were allowed back to the studio and did a few weeks of class before starting rehearsals for the first Royal Ballet: Back Onstage performance in October. That was an enlightening time. I had been like an animal caged for so long, and even though we were all wearing masks I was back in the studio and felt really excited. I was determined to allow myself to just go for it and not hold back, to make the most of this opportunity to finally perform and really engage with this wonderful repertoire. It was great to perform to an audience again, even thought they were socially distanced.
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BILL COOPER / ROH
I want to be part of the shift in the landscape, in terms of what classical dance can be
I finished that first pas de deux with Anna Rose O’Sullivan, who is one of my closest friends (we were at The Royal Ballet Upper School together and we talked on the phone every day during lockdown), and we heard that massive cheer that we had missed so much! It sounded like 5,000 people. That moment was very special and I felt very grateful. It sounds like this time has helped you to reflect and appreciate both who you are as an artist and the joy of performing. Looking back, the last 15 years have been a very intense time of constant development for me, from starting to learn ballet in 2005 to joining The Royal Ballet School in 2010, to joining the company three years later; then promotion to Soloist and Principal in a relatively short space of time. The past year has given me time to reflect on what I’ve achieved and where I’d like to go. It’s been painful, too because I wonder what I could have done as a performer if Coronavirus hadn’t happened. That’s the flip side of the coin, I guess. However, I have had time to plan. Now I have a lot of things that I want to do that I might not have thought of when I was so in the moment. It’s time for me to start laying the foundations for what my next steps will be, what I want to do choreographically. What is my vision for the future? I want to be part of the shift in the landscape, in terms of what classical
dance can be, what a company can do, what a dancer can do; I want to be part of that. A career as a classical ballet dancer can make you very selfabsorbed, you are constantly thinking am I eating and sleeping well? How can I improve my performance? How can I progress? But this past year has given me time to consider what I might represent to the next generation and ask myself what I can give back. This is not just for me personally but for my whole generation, we have all experienced the same situation. You have talked beautifully about the wider responsibility you feel as a ballet dancer. What advice and encouragement you have for teachers who are working hard to inspire their students in these difficult times? Wow! That is an incredible question, as I feel I am not qualified enough to give such advice. I would say that I am still a student and always will be. What I look for from my teacher is the inspiration to make me believe that I can reach my goals. Of course, everything has changed during the pandemic but our commitment and respect for our art form is the same, we still have to be aiming for high standards and when things go back to ‘normal’, we need to be in a position where we feel we have gained something from this experience. If anything, we should have gained personal responsibility. Students will have become more self-sufficient and
can self-motivate, they understand they are doing it for themselves. That’s how I felt when I got back to the studio, I understood that I was working for myself. It’s the teacher who gives the student responsibility for their own learning, whether online or in the studio. Another thing is to keep students curious, encourage them to research their own and other art forms. At my school in Portugal, I was inspired by my contemporary dance teacher Catarina Moreira, who encouraged me to watch and investigate as much as possible. Developing this curiosity completes the circle of being an artist and a performer. She inspired me so much and encouraged my curiosity, and I think it is this energy which drives the arts and society forward. If you can give this gift to students, then they will thrive.
i Marcelino Sambé is currently a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet. He was born in Lisbon and started his dance studies at the National Conservatory of Lisbon, later winning several international dance competitions and receiving a scholarship to join the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London. Since joining The Royal Ballet, he has risen through the ranks to become the second Black male dancer to achieve the position of Principal dancer. Dance | Issue 492 13
Your feedback from our latest dancesport masterclasses, attended by teachers and pupils in Germany, Greece, Mauritius, Singapore, the US and the UK. For more than a year the whole world has had to adapt to new ways of working and our beloved dance industry has been no exception. In May 2020 we hosted various online workshops and Q&A sessions for our members, held by our dedicated and hard-working committee members. This inspired the Ballroom, Latin and Sequence faculties to create and host online events for our teachers. In January we held our very first masterclass day featuring lectures from Alexandra Costi, Stephen and Yasmin Arnold, Vincent Simone and Bryan Watson and Carmen! This proved very successful, and we had great feedback from those who attended. As a follow-up and having listened to members' feedback, we decided to open the doors to pupils at our next session, which we held on Sunday 11 April 2021, again hosting four lectures by experts in their field, Shirley Ballas, Neil Jones, Robert and Louise Aldred, and Christopher Hawkins. The only issue we have now is... how do
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Breaking out of the routine
we beat that? Well, watch this space! Our next masterclass will be in July 2021 so keep an eye on www.istd.org for further information. Malcolm Hill, Head of Faculty Development for Latin American, Modern Ballroom and Sequence REGIS T ERED T E ACHER MICHEL L E L AWRENCE GI V E S HER ACCOU N T OF T HE L AT E S T MEMB ERS' M A S T ERCL A SS E S On Sunday 11 April, I was delighted to participate in the ISTD April Masterclass on Zoom. It truly was a worldwide event, attended by teachers from Germany, Greece, Mauritius, Singapore, the US and the UK. In addition, pupils were invited to join their teachers to benefit from these wonderful lectures. The morning kicked off with Robert and Louise Aldred presenting Classical Sequence for Everyone. Their lecture was a comprehensive guide to both
For more than a year the whole world has had to adapt to new ways of working and our beloved dance industry has been no exception.
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those new to the genre, and the more experienced dancers and teachers. Robert and Louise shared their vast experience to discuss the classical feet positions, acknowledgements, arms and styling. Each section was beautifully demonstrated with valuable teaching tips and exercises included. The subject of Classical Waltzing was also touched upon, such an important element of this genre. Their enthusiasm for the subject will inspire teachers to include Classical Sequence in their schools with confidence. We then moved onto the Ballroom Masterclass presented by Christopher Hawkins, ably assisted by Joanne. His lecture focused on the development of the technique to enable a more dynamic and fluid movement across many very well-known syllabus figures in the slow swing dances. Christopher expertly explained the application of the amount of turn of both the body and feet, sway, footwork and the use of rise and fall. Delivered with such clarity, I am sure that it has left us all wanting to explore the thoughts
raised from this very experienced lecturer further. Shirley Ballas took to the Zoom screen to present her Rumba Masterclass focusing on the use of pivoting, and what an amazing Masterclass it was! Shirley emphasised the importance of the strong understanding of technique throughout her lecture, showing exactly how to place the feet and legs with absolute precision and care on every step. As an experienced teacher, Shirley showed us common faults and how to rectify, with good teaching ideas that we will all be eager to take back to our studios. Shirley’s demonstration of syllabus figures was exquisite. The importance of posture and the engagement of the core was illustrated by a superb balance exercise that I am certain we will all be trying. The Masterclass concluded with a Q&A session with many excellent questions coming from all ages across the participants. Shirley answered with clarity and honesty, a true insight into the mind of a very knowledgeable lady of dance.
Left Shirley Ballas, ISTD lecturer and Head Judge on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing Above ISTD lecturer Neil Jones performing with fellow Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Nancy Xu
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Neil Jones concluded our day with his Lindy Hop Masterclass. His class was suitable for all levels of dancer as he concentrated on the various timings and styling of the basic steps, showing us teachable amalgamations with plenty of energy and enthusiasm. He also gave us a clear comparison between the Jive and Lindy Hop, pointing out the major differences to look out for. His clear and relaxed teaching style encouraged everyone to get up and have a go from their homes. I am sure that this will boost the confidence of teachers to add Lindy Hop to their teaching programmes in the future. Neil finished his Masterclass with a Q&A session. Our participants asked some brilliant questions relating to specific technique, Neil’s own dancing career and, of course, his involvement with Strictly. These were inspirational lectures for both teachers and their pupils. Several of my adult pupils participated and were delighted to have been given this insight into our wonderful world of dance. SOME OF YOU R FAVOU RI T E T I P S FROM OU R RENOWNED IS T D L EC T U RERS All our participants commented on what a welcome change this was from their COVID-19 routines. Here are some of their favourite ‘top tips’ from the masterclasses.
All our participants commented on what a welcome change this was from their COVID-19 routines.
“Shirley told us: ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ It shows all dancers that we are all on a journey and it takes extreme dedication and commitment and a lot of time to make it to the top. I use this quote to motivate myself in my own training as I continue to work hard to be the very best I can be.” Rachel Abel, Scotland “You don’t have to be the most talented dancer or the one that enjoys dancing the most in order to become successful. You need to be the one that works the hardest. Also, fluorescent dance shoes were a revelation on Zoom as Shirley’s feet were really easy to follow on screen.” Frances Cairns, England “Shirley’s advice to young dancers – never be in a rush to become a Junior.” Huguette Cupidon, Mauritius
Above Strictly Come Dancing judges, Craig Revel Horwood, ISTD lecturer Shirley Ballas, and Motsi Mabuse
“Work, work, work! Good basics are better than Gold Star figures. Have fun, not stress!” Janet Müzel, Germany “Practicing the basics and fundamentals to make them look amazing... and to dance to the age that we are but make the routines show great technique.” Zakhary Wilson, age 11 and Tobias Wilson, age 8, England
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Shape the future Have your say on the future of your Society
The last 12 months have shown your ability to adapt and change in unpredictable and difficult circumstances. This impressive pivoting has brought both new opportunities and challenges for you and your students.
This review is your opportunity to tell us what you think about the organisation, the value of membership, and most importantly what the future holds for you and your students. To help the Society navigate this cultural change with you – from dealing with the impact of the pandemic to delivering on our commitment to improving equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – we are undergoing a strategic review to ensure that we continue to be a professional and credible organisation that represents the needs of you, our members, your students and communities. This review is your opportunity to tell us what you think about the organisation, the value of membership, and most importantly what the future holds for you and your students. In the first few weeks of May, you will be invited to complete an anonymous online survey, please give 15 minutes of your time to take the survey and tell us what you think. Feedback from the surveys and in-person interviews with creative practioners, young people and stakeholders beyond the Society, will be analysed to identify key business opportunities and will result in a new five year strategic plan for the Society.
The strategic plan will make sure the Society can re-build a financially resilient and sustainable business model for the organisation and our members. As well as fulfilling our potential as a significant contributor to developing a diverse workforce and talent pipeline. Make sure you have your say and shape the future of your organisation.
i WI NS T ER M A RS H Jo Marsh and Sarah Chambers of Winster Marsh have been appointed to navigate us through this strategic process, working in collaboration with a Steering Group appointed from across the spectrum of membership. Winster Marsh bring considerable experience of working with high profile cultural organisations on research and strategic planning processes. Jo Marsh says: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the ISTD as they develop their five year strategic plan. We will be consulting with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the process including the membership through surveys and focus groups. Their insights and opinions will inform the recommendations for future priorities, ensuring the ISTD remains a global leader in dance education, inclusive and relevant during a time of rapid societal change."
CULT UR A L RECOV ERY FU N D We're grateful to have received £426,477 from the Cultural Recovery Fund in April 2021. This meaningful award from the UK Fund helps us rebuild a sustainable business model and identify ways to enable more people to access our work and support teachers to expand their reach. Vital for our teachers’ recovery after the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the dance industry. It also sustains the Society’s commitment to improving equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in dance education, so that our teachers can make a significant contribution to cultural education and children’s health and well-being. Find out more about the fund: www.istd.org/dance/here-for-culture
Above #HEREFORCULTURE Thanks to the #CultureRecoveryFund we can continue to be #HereForCulture. Show your support with the hashtag #HereForCulture on your social media channels. Dance | Issue 492 17
The student relationship Dr Imogen Aujla and Professor Joan Duda look at promoting student engagement and well-being during COVID-19, and the importance of creating an empowering motivational climate.
Dr Imogen Aujla Senior Lecturer in Dance and Dance Science at the University of Bedfordshire
The COVID-19 impact The lasting impacts of the pandemic have yet to be established but ongoing periods of lockdown and isolation may negatively impact the motivation of young dance students. As such, while dropout from dance can of course happen at any time, it may be more common right now, considering the testing times we are living through. My own research, conducted around 10 years ago, indicated that the main reason for dropout among adolescent dancers is a change of aspirations.1 This may also be a cause of dropout during COVID-19, as some young dancers may now doubt whether the dance industry can provide a sustainable career. A lack of performance and choreographic opportunities that are often key enrichment activities in dance may have also diminished motivation for those students who come alive in front of an audience. There are two other main reasons for dropout in dancers aged 10–18 years. Firstly, when students do not feel competent, they often lose motivation.1 Lower effort levels and limited feedback may have a negative effect on students’ feelings of competence: as the novelty of online classes fades away, it becomes all too easy to participate half-heartedly in a Zoom class, hindering progress and consequently affecting self-confidence. And how hard it is for teachers to give constructive feedback when you can only see half of your student’s torso! Secondly, young dancers often feel that their dance friends are the only ones who are truly like-minded and really understand them.2 Without regular high-quality contact with this social group, some students may lose a sense of dancer identity and belonging as these relationships cannot easily be maintained in the digital world.
What can teachers do? Drawing from my research, a key way to enhance motivation is to support students’ autonomy. Autonomy means feeling that we have both a sense of choice and voice in what we are doing. Autonomy support is also crucial to the development of harmonious passion, which is a flexible form of engagement in dance that predicts both commitment and wellbeing.3 So, now is the time to help students to set and monitor their own goals, which will increase their feelings of both autonomy and competence. Goals could be around technique, musicality and expression. If this is too abstract for your students you could set fitness goals instead, which are easier to measure. How many star jumps, crunches or press-ups can they do in one minute? Can they do more as the term progresses? You could set online fitness videos to support this (Fitness Blender is a good place to start). In terms of social relationships, you could build in time to reinforce social bonds, such as doing quizzes in class. Perhaps you could encourage students to work together on their goals or set some creative or fitness challenges for pairs or small groups to work on. It may also be helpful to send round some inspirational videos of professional artists to discuss, and to remind students that although things are hard right now, it doesn’t need to change their future aims and ambitions. Many of their favourite artists will have faced and overcome their own struggles! I realise implementing these strategies will create more work for teachers, but it may also help with your own motivation to switch up the monotony of teaching from your home or an empty studio! Innovation is key to navigating this strange new world, so I hope these suggestions are a useful starting point.
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i Imogen Aujla PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Dance and Dance Science at the University of Bedfordshire. Her research interests include dance psychology, talent identification and development, dance and disability, and health and wellbeing in dance. Imogen has published and presented her research internationally, and has served on the Publications Committee of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science for over 10 years. Article references: 1. Walker, I J, Nordin-Bates, S M, & Redding, E (2012). A mixed methods investigation of dropout among talented young dancers: Findings from the UK Centres for Advanced Training. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 16(2), 65–73.
Some advice on how to keep your students engaged: • Help students to set and monitor their own goals. Goals could be around technique, musicality, and expression. You could set creative and fitness tasks using video content • Allow students to acknowledge their feelings and experiences, reinforcing social bonds. Hold regular quizzes in class to promote discussion and socialising • Send around video material from other inspirational professional dancers in between classes to inspire motivation and creativity • Welcome students’ input into how class activities are modified due to COVID-19, discussing the need for continuing protective behaviours.
2. Aujla, I J, Nordin-Bates, S M, & Redding, E (2015). Multidisciplinary predictors of adherence to contemporary dance training: findings from the UK Centres for Advanced Training. Journal of sports sciences, 33(15), 1564–1573. 3. Aujla, I J, Nordin-Bates, S, & Redding, E (2014). A qualitative investigation of commitment to dance: findings from the UK Centres for Advanced Training. Research in dance education, 15(2), 138–160.
A key way to enhance motivation is to support students’ autonomy Dance | Issue 492 19
We always make a difference but our positive impact as teachers can be even more pronounced during such extraordinary circumstances.
Professor Joan Duda Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at The University of Birmingham
The COVID-19 context As it has been for most if not all of us, living through this pandemic has been challenging, unsettling, and stressful for our students. The virus has interrupted and transformed life as they knew it. There has been an economic toll acutely felt by way too many. Students have carried concerns about their loved ones and themselves becoming seriously ill. For an alarming number, such fears have been realised and it has been necessary to cope with loss of health, function and most sadly, loss of life. COVID-19 has broken routines and has meant a breakdown in formal and informal social support networks. Students have been separated from family members they care deeply about and constrained in exchanging with all the other familiar faces in their daily worlds (particularly their friends). For some students, lockdown has meant being locked in a dysfunctional domestic environment. Since the pandemic commenced, what our students do, how they do it, and what they achieve (or feel has been accomplished) have been remoulded. The virus has restricted or even completely prohibited engagement in activities students enjoy and value. For many, the focus has been on surviving this surreal ordeal. Thriving and looking to the future with clarity and confidence, not so readily experienced. Responses to adversity To optimally adapt and move forward, it is important that we teachers recognise this ‘context’ and the embedded worries for our students. The pandemic has put at risk the ‘building blocks’ of their motivation and well-being, their sense of competence, feelings of personal control, and opportunities to connect with others. As such, it is not surprising when we read reports of compromised mental health in our young people over the past 12 months, states of physical and emotional ill-being suffered when at home and when back at school. But not all has been nor needs to be desolation and discouragement for those we teach. Amongst
our students, we have seen and can continue to witness innovation and observe remarkable resilience. This is also a time of opportunity; a chance to further promote personal growth in our students. We always make a difference but our positive impact as teachers can be even more pronounced during such extraordinary circumstances. When outside forces have presented difficulties and disruption, how especially important it is that we create an empowering environment within our classrooms and studios. Empowering climates nourish those ‘building blocks’ and promote students’ feelings of autonomy, competence and connection. Research conducted in education, sport and dance/the performing arts indicates that, if we are more empowering, students’ engagement and welfare will be enhanced. Such an environment facilitates students’ autonomous motivation (ie, they participate because they want to, they enjoy the activity and find it interesting and personally valuable) and ‘sets the stage’ for positive emotions, creativity, self-worth, and capacity to effectively self-regulate and cope with adversity. Some empowering strategies As it is fundamental to optimal functioning and resiliency, what can we do to have students feel more empowered, particularly during the pandemic? Their autonomy could be further cultivated by asking about how they have been affected by COVID-19 and acknowledging their feelings and experiences. We could consider providing a meaningful rationale when discussing the need for continuing protective behaviours such as masking, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands. We could welcome students’ input into how class activities are modified due to COVID-19. We could ask: “What new options do we have? How can we participate in our studies, our dance classes, in a more engaging and enjoyable way?” Feelings of competence are promoted when we feel we can meet the demands being faced. During the pandemic, the quality and quantity of students’
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academic studies and dance training have been reduced, concentration has been difficult to keep, and personal energy levels were not often soaring! What do our students think? What can we work on that would be optimally challenging and not bring them added stress? With the challenges related to life with COVID-19, students’ goals may need to be redirected or recalibrated and we certainly need their input to do this. All of us feel more competent when progress is made, and we feel a sense of achievement. And what about facilitating feelings of relatedness? How can we encourage a sense of connection, even in this very virtual world!? Again, let’s bring our students into this discussion. What can we do to have them feel safe, like they have a respected voice, and interacting with you and other students in ways that foster learning, interest and positive emotions? To close and consider It is certainly something we should strive for every day when teaching… but focusing now on how we can build a more empowering motivational climate will help our students and help ourselves buffer the demands and strain of this pandemic. As well, we will be even more ready and able to embrace the better days which are coming.
i Joan Duda is a Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at The University of Birmingham, UK. Joan is internationally known for her expertise on the motivational climate, motivation, and determinants of engagement, optimal functioning and well-being within sport, exercise, and dance/the performing arts. She also has an extensive background in the development of mental skills and self-regulation in sport and other performance-related activities. She is one of the most cited researchers in her discipline (with more than 47,000 total citations) and has published more than 350 scientific and applied articles and book chapters, and has edited two books. Based on her long-standing research and applied work, Joan has created the theory and evidence based Empowering CoachingTM family of training programmes (including the Empowering Dance™ workshop, in collaboration with One Dance UK; https://www.onedanceuk.org/programme/ healthier-dancer-programme/healthier-dancer-talks to promote more engaging and health-conducive environments. These workshops are being delivered to coaches, teachers, and parents in the UK and abroad.
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Inspiring teachers We asked our teachers and students what they will take from their experiences over the past year to inspire and bolster their well-being in 2021 and beyond. Diane Durant, teacher and examiner, Italy
Above Left to right Heather Burns, Alice Alcock, Amelie Fletcher, Jameela Waqar-Uddin
Heather Burns, teacher and examiner I will take into my future teaching practice the resolve, resilience and determination that dance gives us to adapt to technology, to continue to deliver our passion for dance into people’s homes, and to inspire people who have never had the opportunity to dance to access it in this way. “Heather has inspired me this year by always putting others first and always going the extra mile for everyone.” Alice Alcock, DDE/Licentiate teaching student “Ms Burns makes every class fun and interesting and I enjoy learning new ballet positions in each lesson. Her teaching makes me feel good about dancing and I believe that I can do well in it. I really enjoyed continuing my classes during lockdown so I could still practice and improve.” Amelie Fletcher, Year 2 Highfield Priory School “Ms Burns has been really helpful and creative. She always gives us lots of praise and encouragement. We have been able to make up our own dances based on photos and using the techniques we have been learning.” Jameela Waqar-Uddin, Year 3 Westholme School
2020 was certainly a year to remember. Positivity is definitely something we had to learn a lot about during lockdown, and this will be of great help once we return to our teaching activities. I searched for ways Diane Durant to keep my students interested, and introduced new exercises that enabled them to continue to study, especially allegro movements. “During our lessons we worked by focusing on the use of the arms and head, and my teacher made me realise how important it is to really feel the co-ordination and musicality in movement. I respect her because, considering the circumstances Francesca and the situation, she has Cassano managed to constantly transmit passion, that desire to never give up and to fight for our goals.” Francesca Cassano, ICB Advanced 1/ DDE student, Bari, Italy
We always want to hear your stories about inspirational teachers. Share on social media #TeachDance
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Helen Green, teacher and examiner The past year was certainly a challenge and the one thing that I’ve learnt is that anything is possible! The fact that I am Zooming my classes and examining using Microsoft Teams and Totara is a miracle in itself. It’s been a time of lockdowns, masks and working in a two-metre square box but it’s also been a time of pushing the boundaries, being resilient, finding new ways to communicate and motivate. Helen Green I’ve never had to be so creative and it’s something that I will definitely take with me into 2021 and beyond. Being able to keep the connection with not only my UK pupils but also my Italian students has been wonderful. As Benjamin Franklin said, out of adversity comes opportunity.
Above Left to right Cheryl Gill, Simona Carofiglio, Cinzia Cipriani, Silvia Lucarelli
Cheryl Gill, teacher and examiner, Italy The three things that I will definitely take from my teaching into 2021 is creativity, motivation and the ability to connect and inspire our future generation in dance. “During this pandemic I have learnt in many ways, through demonstration, by analysing and by being able to go through things in much greater depth, at times even more so than when we were in the studio.” Simona Carofiglio, teacher and Licentiate Modern Theatre student, Bari, Italy “Online lessons brought an unexpected wave of innovation and technology. We found ourselves having to give lessons virtually but also, in my case following them. Lessons online kept my interest alive; my teacher's ability to devise new and equally valid ways to continue teaching remotely spurred me, not only to continue my studies with her, but also in my work.” Cinzia Cipriani, teacher and Licentiate Modern Theatre student, Bari, Italy “This pandemic has fundamentally changed our lives and work. By continuing my studies online with my teacher she allowed me to discuss the various problems and how to deal with online teaching, giving me lots of advice and new ideas.” Silvia Lucarelli, teacher and Licentiate Modern Theatre student, Bari, Italy
“Thanks to my teacher’s video lessons I was able to keep the practical part of the course alive and the detailed explanations helped me to better understand the exercises and sequences.” Silvia Giacchetti, studying DDE Tap, Italy “My teacher has planned the topic meetings with us and provided us with extra content such as videos and notes. I've always enjoyed her positivity and happiness.” Camilla Rugini, studying DDE Tap, Italy “My teacher helped us to better understand each step or exercise and everything was done with the utmost calm.” Luana Tartarotti, studying DDE Tap, Italy “Thanks to the video lessons with my teacher I have always felt motivated to carry on and not give up! The lessons helped me understand the vocabulary and all the work done in the video lessons has helped teaching my students enormously.” Michela Torquati, studying DDE Tap, Italy
Above Left to right Silvia Giacchetti, Camilla Rugini, Luana Tartarotti, Michela Torquati
The past year was certainly a challenge and the one thing that I’ve learnt is that anything is possible! Dance | Issue 492 23
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Andrew Hindley, Dance Principal, Preston’s College Dance (PCD) In March 2020, I like many others responsible for the education and training of dancers, had to put in place rapid plans for how we were going to support our learners though a period of studying at home. At that Andrew Hindley point, never did I think that these changes to the way we work would be in place for as long as they have been. The energy in our staff room was electric, with ideas on how we could motivate, engage and support our learners. The faculty came together in a way that I have never seen before, all with a sense of positivity and a desire to do the very best that we could. In those first few weeks of the national lockdown, we were experimenting with the use of numerous virtual learning environments and methods of communication. Messages were flying around between staff on Teams, WhatsApp, Pro-Monitor, Canvas and email. Lessons were being delivered on Zoom, Teams and through our college VLE. We quickly got into our stride and found a blend of delivery that worked well for staff and students alike. There are challenges with the use of technology in the delivery of practical dance classes, however there are many positives in the new skills that we have learnt. This situation has definitely opened my eyes to the positive impact that some of these changes will have on our practices moving forward.
Continuing lessons during this time has helped my mental health Despina Kassartou, teacher, Greece I will take the following from the past year into my teaching practice in 2021 and beyond: • During the long periods of lockdown, I had the chance to follow various seminars and introduce elements of them into my teaching, growing my depth of knowledge and providing better know-how to my students • The necessity of learning to use technology in new ways makes me able to stay on track and be ready at any time to give a variety of solutions so not any of my classes get missed • Technology will definitely help aspects of my future classes, including better sound, provision of information, use of images and new music applications • I have found new ways of approaching each class during this time – better use of space, being creative to find a safe environment both for me and my students • I now know how to ‘get more creative’ with my classes, focusing on technique and continuing growth both in set syllabus and non-syllabus material whilst keeping my students’ interest and being effective at the same time
So, what will I take from 2020 into our teaching practice in 2021 and beyond?
• Find a way of using proprioception and kinaesthesia for us to avoid injury, being aware of our bodies and the movements we are doing to avoid injury
• I will definitely be more open to experimenting and using different ways of delivery in all of my classes. We are much more adaptable and resourceful than we ever knew we were before this pandemic
“My teacher kept me focused on my goal, which is the DDE examination, and I have had the time to further my studies.” Konstantina Badra, DDE Modern Theatre
• I will continue to use remote teaching to compliment the face-to-face classes. This has been extremely useful in the delivery of DDE Unit 4 classes • I will continue to set home learning tasks with the use of a Virtual Learning Platform. This has enabled a much more efficient way of tracking progress • I will allow video submissions of choreography for formative assessment. This has allowed me to give much more detailed feedback on student’s choreography A blended learning approach is definitely here to stay. At PCD, we will also take the following practices into 2021 and beyond:
I had the time to work in-depth with music styles and rhythm, which enhanced my existing knowledge.” Maria Hadjipanteli, DDE Modern Theatre, Advanced 2 Tap “Continuing lessons during this time has helped my personal evolution and my mental health because we share this experience as a team.” Despina Lelouda, DDE Modern Theatre Left Despina Kassartou's students
• We will continue to allow students the opportunity to audition remotely for places at the college • We will hold virtual advice events and open evenings • We will continue to invite guest speakers via video link in order to enhance the experience of our learners 24 Dance | Issue 492
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Anna McBride, teacher and Area Organiser for Manchester “I like to dress up on Saturdays and twirl.” Ada, age 4 “Miss Anna has made sure we continue our love of dance safely from our homes. This has kept me motivated knowing we are learning new skills that we will apply back in the studio on our return.” Ella, aged 16 “Saturday is my favourite day of the week as I get to dance with my friends and dance to my favourite songs.” Eloise, age 5
Above Aaron Lissimore
Aaron Lissimore, Principal of The Company PA Like so many fellow dance teachers, my mindset last year was that the show must go on. As we navigated our way through the pandemic, the ever-changing restrictions required us to find new and creative ways to meet the needs of our students. From online tuition to outdoor performances, charity fundraisers to dancing in confined spaces, our skill set was continuously evolving. Although many of these strategies might have been forecast as short-term solutions, the inventive and varied delivery of dance education throughout the past year was inspiring. Moving forward, I plan to adapt my teaching practice so that is not solely dependent on the physical presence of teacher/student. I hope to encourage a hybrid model of learning for the students by creating a digital library of class resources combined with online and studio-based classes. By offering a range of learning options to the students and a more varied timetable for my teachers, I hope we will all feel engaged and motivated to advance.
“I always find an opportunity to dance – it makes me forget about what is happening in the world. We are encouraged at the start of class to talk about our week and how we are feeling.” Mia, age 16 “I love to dance on a Saturday because I know all classes will lead to my exams.” Nicole, age 10
“My incredible dance teacher Aaron Lissimore at The Company PA has not only kept us all dancing and connected via Zoom, but has also continued to give us amazing opportunities, including ‘The Yard’, which was an outdoor stage for socially distanced lessons over summer and ended with an amazing showcase, which gave us all something to look forward to and work towards. Being a student who is auditioning for dance colleges this year, my dance teacher has worked extremely hard to help me with solos and preparation for these as they are now all online. Most of all, my dance teacher organised a virtual ‘Tap for the NHS’ fundraiser for the incredible NHS key workers where we raised £2000!” Megan Hartrop “Our teachers instil dedication and discipline in us, not only for dance but also for anything we do in life. This has helped during the pandemic to keep me focused, motivated and still enjoying my dance and school training.” Lillia Lawton
Above Eloise, age 5
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Heather Rees, teacher and examiner The mixed blessing of teaching online has been a challenge and an incredible learning curve. Use of space has taken on a different meaning. We have all learned to adapt our classes to find the most beneficial parts of our respective syllabi to work on within the Above Heather Rees limitations of the home. It has been a blessing to be able to keep in touch with students and teachers alike. My own work spans teaching small children and students as well as coaching Status Examinations at DDE, Licentiate and Fellowship levels. Technique of footwork has been the best use of the time with the younger participants especially as some are too tall to be completely visible on screen. With teachers it was an opportunity to concentrate on theory together with restricted performance. Continuing into the future, if social distancing is still the order of the day, then the restrictions of home coaching will be invaluable in ensuring the dancers have learned to stay ‘within their own space’. But as restrictions begin to relax it will be a joy to be able to work once more on style and breadth of line within the relevant dance sequences. I’m thinking positive for the future.
Fleur Stevenson, teacher and Area Organiser for Yorkshire The past year was the most difficult I have faced in 30 years of running a dance school. The pandemic has challenged business owners to adapt, pivot and redesign their whole business model. And that’s just what I have done, enabling me to head into the latter part of 2021 feeling confident Fleur Stevenson that my business can survive anything, and I will be able to go on for hopefully another 30 years! I feel more connected to my pupils and families after being in their homes via Zoom for almost a year. Our teaching models have changed continually throughout all the different Zoom phases. We have all extended our use of technology and may continue to use this in our teaching practice moving forwards. I have loved training more online and linking up with so many more industry professionals, business mentors and like-minded dance bosses. However, I cannot wait to see my pupils and families face to face again and begin repairing what we have lost and surging forwards.
“Strangely enough, even though we’ve been disconnected in so many ways from our students, I feel more connected than normal in others. I look forward to finding things out about them, their likes and dislikes and having group discussions about silly things. It’s something that you don’t feel like you have time for in a normal studio setting, but I think it brings everyone closer together and will certainly try to make more time for this in future. I believe it makes them feel more connected with their peers and teachers, and a more valued member of our dance family – all very important things for their mental well-being. “With our older students we have been delving into the history of legendary dancers, which we’ve all really enjoyed. It’s opened up their eyes to so much that they wouldn’t normally have learnt about and experienced, so we’ll continue to appreciate the people who shaped the dance world all of those years ago. I think it also helps them to see the bigger picture and how dance is, and has been, so much more than what social media can sometimes make them believe.” Jessica Lees, fully qualified ISTD teacher at the Fleur Elizabeth Academy of Dance (Principal, Fleur Stevenson) “My dance teachers have made me appreciate how important human interaction is, how going to dance class improves my mental well-being and not just my dance skills and fitness.” Maddie Clark, age 16
Jackie Styles, Lead Examiner for Imperial Classical Ballet vocational levels There are elements of teaching ballet online that I will take back to the studio with me. Learners benefit from seeing things written down, something I already knew but rarely allow enough time for in live classes. I have been using the ‘chat’ Jackie Styles facility on Zoom a lot with the younger children, Grade 3 and below, and they love it. It cements their knowledge of French terms and meanings which in turn leads to greater confidence, especially in exams. There are some students that have flourished during online classes, without the distractions of others in the room and with very clear demonstration, their focus and improvement has been evident. When back in the studio, it is important that these young dancers continue their good practice. I will ensure there is a calm atmosphere for individual rehearsal and make a more conscious effort to remember to rotate the lines!” Teaching students to turn has been a focus in many of my lessons on Zoom. Primary ballets have amazed me week after week with their ability to turn any step on the spot – necessary when you are squeezed between the coffee table and sofa! Close up footwork is another benefit of being on camera. Moving the laptop onto the floor, hoisting myself up between the work surfaces, and demonstrating allegro or batterie in slow motion has been fantastic! Not sure how I will replicate this in the studio but a good recording of one of these demonstrations
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Above James Butcher performing in INALA by Sisters Grimm
is a useful resource that I now have. The students have stood still to watch these demonstrations, as opposed to marking them with me, which is something I will continue to do when we are back to ‘normal’. This level of focus has proved effective, and I recognise how this often gets lost in a busy dance class. The most important thing I will take with me from this year is an appreciation for the irreplaceable buzz of a dance studio.
The pandemic has challenged business owners to adapt, pivot and redesign their whole business model Share your stories about inspirational teachers on social media #TeachDance
James Butcher, teacher, ex-Royal Ballet dancer, West End performer Over lockdown, I had the pleasure of continuing to work with Miss Jackie Styles, who has been coaching me in Imperial Classical Ballet. Jackie is exceptionally knowledgeable, and her passion for this subject James Butcher is contagious. Having passed Licentiate last year, I have thoroughly enjoyed the new challenge of studying the Advanced 2 work with a focus on achieving Fellowship. Jackie is a master of creating free work at this level which has been exciting to learn and has kept the lessons engaging. I have used this experience to reflect on my teaching practice to try and create a similar learning environment for my students. I am also studying Licentiate Tap with Miss Heather Rees who is fascinating to learn from. The wealth of experience Miss Rees so willingly passes on is astonishing. She is very generous with her time and gracious in her approach to coaching. I feel inspired to research the points that have come up in discussions. This has resulted in using Miss Rees’ book as a reference for an essay I’m currently writing for my Master’s degree in Dance Pedagogy. Dance | Issue 492 27
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PERFORM CREATE TEACH PROFESSIONAL DANCE AND DANCE TEACHER TRAINING IN THE HEART OF LANCASHIRE! A range of Further and Higher Education courses available including: Diploma in Dance Education (ISTD) Access Route (RAD) Vocational Qualifications (ISTD) FE Funding, Scholarships & Bursaries available For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org @prestonscollegedance Testimonial - Nina Telford – BA (Hons) Dance Performance Teaching & Choreography – 2019 “I’m so grateful for my training at PCD and will forever cherish my time there. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to train in a positive environment encouraging growth and success.”
M E H
Finding your balance in a topsy turvy world Dr Lucie Clements is a Chartered Psychologist who works with dancers and teachers to develop their well-being inside and outside of the dance studio. She shares useful methods on how to find your feet when feeling unstable – a feeling we have all experienced since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. Remember what is important to you It is important to broaden your perspective on the reason you teach dance and consider the impact your Dr Lucie teaching has on Clements young people’s education. Chartered For example, Psychologist participating in dance can support children to develop their creative thinking, which may help them solve problems in school, too. When you can unpack which of these attributes means the most to you, it can help you to re-shift your perspective on your teaching. It could also help you to think about your personal ethos or school branding. Recognise your strengths and accomplishments When we are most stressed, we tend to look to the future and seek answers to resolve our uncertainty. Instead of finding the comfort we are seeking by looking into the future, we often trigger more feelings of anxiety because the answers are rarely there. Seeking those answers becomes even more emotionally tiring. It’s like your mind is running after a bus that is driving away. You cannot catch the bus, so you need to find a way to accept that right now it is healthier to stop chasing. If you feel exhausted, it is not surprising; your mind has been chasing answers for over a
year. A small but powerful tip to overcome this is to focus on the present moment through the practice of gratitude, which involves appreciation of what we have today, rather than what we don’t have. This can ground us and raise awareness of other positive presences in our life. Redirect your energy in the face of uncertainty When uncertainty takes over, pause and ask yourself, “What can I do today to solve this uncertainty?” If the honest answer is “very little”, all that we can do is not to make the uncertainty go away but learn to manage the uncertainty a little better. This can be achieved through engaging in mindfulness-based activities, or through finding ways of developing your present relationship with dance by reconnecting with your intrinsic motivation. This is a motivation to engage in something that is purely for joy. Alternatively, take some time away from the syllabus and dance purely for yourself. You can then also try this with your students. Balance your identity and economic hardship Since the beginning of the pandemic, you may have found yourself spending more time on your other job roles, which means you are developing two very valuable psychological attributes. The first is your skillset, which may seem obvious but when we have a broader skill set, we are also better at mental flexibility, or being able to approach a problem from different perspectives. This is developing your creativity and may end up opening up new options to you in the longer
term. Secondly, the more jobs in our portfolio, the broader our identity as this increases the way we define ourselves. For example, I define myself as a psychologist, a lecturer, a businesswoman and a dancer – a fairly broad identity. When one of our identities is under threat, we are buffered by the other roles, meaning that we perceive that particular threat as ‘less dangerous’, and we experience better well-being. That’s why having a ‘side hustle’ can be very good for us emotionally.
If you feel exhausted, it is not surprising; your mind has been chasing answers for over a year i Free resouces: • www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/ default/files/how-to-manageand-reduce-stress.pdf • www.headspace.com • www.viacharacter.org
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Dancing with cancer, from diagnosis to rehab A personal reflection by Dance Psychologist and ISTD Graduation speaker Dr Peter Lovatt. “For what lies ahead, you need to be as fit and strong as possible” said the doctor, after telling me I had a malignant tumour. Being diagnosed with stage three cancer was a shock. Receiving the diagnosis during a national lockdown was terrifying. I was a wreck, both physically and mentally. On 11 January this year I went for a routine test and was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel. Time twisted, speeding up and slowing down. My emotions bounced between terror and numbness. I was shocked and scared. My body tensed, creating a useless armour, and I wanted to run away, or do nothing, to freeze in sedentary fear. These were not the perfect conditions in which to dance. But dancing was, I knew, the thing I had to do. There is abundant evidence that dancing changes the way people think, feel and behave. Science has shown what dancers have known for centuries, that dancing can lead to positive changes in our physical and mental well-being. Right now, I needed to create changes in my physical and mental well-being. So, I danced. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had three weeks between diagnosis and surgery and,
There is such a strong link between emotion and motion.
following doctor’s orders, I needed to be as fit and strong as possible. As we were in the middle of a national lockdown, and all dance studios and gyms were closed, I had to do this at home. For physical fitness I used a daily dance workout, one that would work all the major muscle groups and gently raise my heart rate. I used a musical theatre DVD workout called 567Broadway. I loved this because the teacher, and the other dancers onscreen, were happy and engaging, the music was great, and it had a fantasy Broadway feel. I needed fitness mixed with escapism. On top of the cardio-vascular benefits of dancing daily, I needed to get out of my head. I was spending too much time catastrophising, thinking about the worst-case scenario of cancer, imagining how my seven-year-old son would grow up without his father. 567Broadway gave me 30 minutes a day free from these thoughts. I’d turn the music up loud, I’d be on that Broadway stage, and, sometimes through a veil of tears, with the help of “ONE! Singular sensation” I’d escape from my negative thoughts. For physical connection I danced with my wife. We held each other, we breathed in time, and we moved in synchrony. Fear and loneliness seemed to dissipate with an embrace. For moments of physical and mental
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calm, order and discipline, I did a daily ballet class. Many years ago, I attended the ISTD Cecchetti Summer School. I have always loved the Cecchetti technique. Something about the connection between the body and the breath, the discipline, expansiveness and expression, I particularly love the port de bras exercises. Ballet helped me to get my thoughts in order, to be practical and methodical about all the medical tests I had to undergo. Ballet taught me to relax and breathe through intrusive probes and needles. Apparently, I sang all the way through a colonoscopy. I do wonder what I was humming – perhaps it was the musical accompaniment to the Advanced 1 first and second set of ports de bras. By the time I was admitted for surgery on 3 February, to remove the tumour, a 15-inch section of colon and some lymph nodes, I was performance ready. The surgeon told me there is a strong relationship between a person’s physical and mental well-being and post-operative outcome and recovery time, and I think I’d used dance to the best of my ability to give myself a fighting chance. The day after surgery I felt sore and tired when the physiotherapist came to get me out of bed. Physical activity is vital after this kind of surgery. Despite feeling disoriented due to the morphine
and confused by the number of drips and drains connected to my body, the physio helped me to shuffle around the ward. There’s not a lot of dignity, slipping along in sliders and an open-back hospital gown pushing a drip stand and holding a bag of wee. Looking back, it was similar to the feeling I had when I first wore a Lycra catsuit in a school dance display as a 14-year-old. The physio left me with a sheet of basic breathing, stretching and walking exercises to do every couple of hours. These were fine for the first few days, but I soon got bored. There’s only so many times you can “sit, extend right leg, flex, point, lower leg, repeat.” To keep my motivation for the rehab regime high I needed to make physio funky. In the first week after surgery, I added music to the lower limb strengthening exercises and then combined them with some Matt Maddox-style jazz arms, so my brain was excited. To make the beathing exercises more interesting I used a series of Qigong exercises, which perfectly combine movement, (bird song) and deep breathing. Walking is a really important part of the rehab regime. However, due to covid restrictions, lockdown and the need to shield, I had to restrict my walking to laps of the first-floor landing. I’d do “landing-laps” from my bedroom window at the front of the house,
Above Dr Peter Lovatt addressing a live audience in March 2019
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down the hall to the window at the back of the house, and back again. It was such a short distance that it seemed I was turning more than walking. To liven this up I added a bit of Bob-Fosse-flair to style out my turns and, of course, I walked with jazz hands too. Everything feels better with jazz hands. I am now three weeks post-op [at time of writing] and feeling stronger every day. There are good days and bad days and I’m not sure what the future holds. But I do know there are three things that are helping me to get through this ordeal. These are, our amazing NHS, the love and support of my family and friends, and dance. The Evidence There is a great deal of scientific evidence to show that dancing leads to significant changes in the way people think, feel and behave. One way to think about and remember this evidence is through the acronym STEP. S is for SOCIAL Research has shown that when people move together in synchrony it brings them closer together. People report liking each other more, they trust each other more, they feel more psychologically similar, and they show more helpful behaviour towards each other. Dancing is a fantastic way to bring people together. Dancing is also a great way to like yourself more too. T is for THINKING Scientific research has shown that moving your body in different ways helps us to think and solve problems in different ways. We often get stuck in set patterns of thinking, such as ruminating about things, feeling hopeless and catastrophising. Dancing has been shown to help people break away from old, set patterns of thinking and this can help people to find new, effective solutions to old problems. E is for EMOTIONS There is such a strong link between emotion and motion. Research studies in hospitals, schools and amongst people in the general community have shown that dancing can lead to a reduction of feelings of depression and anxiety. Furthermore, research has also shown that a good boogie can increase positive feelings too. Dancing can also help us to let go of pent-up emotions and body movement plays an important role in the way we communicate our emotional state. P is for PHYSICAL Dancing really is a full body and brain workout. Dancing stimulates everything, from our heart to our hormones, from our neurological structure to our muscles and tendons. Scientific studies have shown that dancing is good for a wide range of medical conditions, such as cardio-vascular disease, Parkinson’s, arthritis obesity and type II diabetes.
I needed to create changes in my physical and mental well-being, so I danced
Above Dr Peter Lovatt book signing in July 2020 Left Heel clicks! To learn more about the psychology of movement, Dr Lovatt’s STEP approach, and to earn five hours of accredited CPD, take The Dance Cure Companion Course. https:// movementinpractice.thinkific. com/courses/The-DanceCure-Companion-Course
i I MPROV I NG WEL L- B EI NG T HROUGH DA NCE Dr Peter Lovatt writes about the amazing power of dance to transform people’s lives in his new book, The Dance Cure: The surprising secret to being smarter, stronger, happier. Right the UK cover of Dr Lovatt's new book
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Syphons of Sand ISTD Associate Deborah Norris worked with young dancers to create socially distanced choreography inspired by the Devon coastline.
PHOTOS BY JEZ WARD
After my GCSEs were cancelled, I had no purpose. This project gave me something to look forward to every week. Amy Bell
I felt that in this hard time, spending time outside, doing something we love with amazing people just made everything we worked for worth it. Toby Menchaca Hurley 34 Dance | Issue 492
Deborah Norris (ISTD Associate) spent 12 weeks teaching a group of young dancers in Totnes, Devon. The online classes helped to support the students' development while their studio was closed. They created solos inspired by a series of words that they had chosen about their relationship with their coastal environment. Deborah worked with local filmmaker Daniel Bruce, in partnership with Totnes School of Dance and their Principal Louise Knapman-Singh, to produce a short dance film: www.balletfolk.com/totnes-film-project In early August 2020, the dancers filmed over two days, creating beautiful phrases of movement whilst dealing with the challenges of maintaining social distance. “Watching them escape and explore their surroundings through
movement was like therapy for all involved in creating this film” said Deborah. The project manager Lily Laight received a bursary from Peninsular Dance Partnership that helped her involvement. “I have not only advanced my technical contemporary dance skills but broadened my creative understanding, choreography and collaboration skills,” she said. Deborah Norris is MA Programme Manager at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, and Director and Choreographer of Ballet Folk. www.balletfolk.com Do you have an outside space that inspires you to dance? Enter the ISTD Challenge www.istd.org/ISTD-Challenge
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Dance for Parkinson's Registered teachers Johanna Hadley and Kezia Mitchell explain how they use dance as an aid for people with Parkinson’s.
Johanna Hadley Registered ISTD teacher
In 2017, I received an enquiry for my Silver Swans® ballet classes for the over 55s. As I spoke with the contact they explained that they had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and wondered if it would be possible to still join the classes. I confirmed to them my belief that dance is inclusive and that they would be most welcome. Although Parkinson’s was a condition I was aware of, it wasn’t something of which I had specialised knowledge and so I decided to research it further. It was at this moment that I discovered the world of dance for Parkinson’s. Reading research articles, watching videos, hearing participant stories, it was incredible to discover the profound impact these classes were having. I completed my training in ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’ in 2019 and was fortunate to receive this from industry-leading tutors from English National Ballet, People Dancing, Cardiff Metropolitan University, NDCWales and Parkinson’s Dance Science. In early 2021, I was invited to work as Associate Artist for People Dancing in their Live Well & Dance – with Parkinson’s online programme, under the directorship of Kiki Gale MBE. This is the pilot programme for a wider scheme in Birmingham, Bristol, Carlisle, Leicester and Newcastle. The programme is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. To ensure that participants can access these online classes for free, further funding was provided by the Parkinson’s UK support group in Trafford. The patron of Live Well & Dance – with Parkinson’s is British writer, script editor, producer
and actor, Paul Mayhew-Archer, who himself was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2011. Our classes In these online classes, I work alongside Lead Artist, Helen Gould, in a class that incorporates many different styles of dance. The music is often selected in response to the participants’ interests. Through discussion with the participants, we reached the theme of ‘Music through the Decades’; we’ve since enjoyed dancing to artists including Mick Jagger and Enya. The inclusion of classical repertoire from ballets such as Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and La Fille Mal Gardée remains a favourite, however. Dance for Parkinson’s classes are open and inclusive. We have participants of all genders in early to advanced stages of Parkinson’s. Their carers often join in, giving respite from their role and an enjoyable, shared activity. To cater to all participants, my colleague Helen teaches the standing version of each exercise while I perform a seated alternative. As someone who trained via the traditional dance student route, learning to teach chair-based classes was completely new to me. It may not be immediately obvious how a step like a plié can be translated into a chair-based exercise, but it is in the core understanding of the plié, meaning ‘to bend,’ that the chair variation can be found: a gentle bending and rolling down of the spine, helping participants with their spine mobility. In this way, almost all of the basic components of a dance class can be translated into a chair-based version.
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It is inspiring to see the creativity and self-expression that is developed in the classes and, ultimately, to witness the power of dance
Falls are a significant risk in Parkinson’s, which it has been challenging to mitigate in online classes. We are fortunate to have a team overseeing the classes while Helen and I are teaching. They can immediately initiate our protocol for falls, should one occur. The benefits of Dance for Parkinson’s classes My training in Dance for Parkinson’s emphasised that each dance style can bring its own benefits for someone living with Parkinson’s, whether that’s the expressive hand gestures from Bharatanatyam, the varied movements of the feet from tap dancing or the port de bras from ballet. This also broadens the classes’ appeal because no one is put off by the focus on a particular dance style. There is a notable social benefit for the Dance for Parkinson’s online classes, particularly during the recent lockdown periods. The Live Well & Dance – with Parkinson’s online classes have been accessed by people who have not participated in Dance for Parkinson’s before – access is no longer limited to those with a class nearby. The physical and mental benefits of the classes are clear to see. People with difficulties moving and completing day-to-day tasks suddenly, when the exercise begins and music plays, start to move freely and confidently. Some participants are even given temporary relief from certain symptoms. It is inspiring to see the creativity and self-expression that is developed in the classes and, ultimately, to witness the power of dance. Dancers and dance teachers are aware of the positive effect dance
has on people of all ages. These benefits are just as relevant to people living with Parkinson’s. Areas such as the development of postural stability, co-ordination and balance are also integral parts of a Dance for Parkinson’s class. The mental health benefits are important, too. The Parkinson’s Foundation estimate that at least 50 percent of those diagnosed will experience depression and up to 40 percent an anxiety disorder. For this reason, we use breakout rooms at the end of class to allow social interaction between participants. For anyone wishing to teach ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’, it is critical that you undertake specialised, professional training. Parkinson’s is a nuanced condition and receiving the proper training for it will be repaid by the support you are able to give to participants in your classes. The work is deeply rewarding for both teacher and participant, seeing the benefits that dance can bring.
Above In class with Kezia Mitchell
Necessary qualifications Johanna Hadley teaches at her family-run dance school, Janet Lomas School of Dancing in Bury, Lancashire. She teaches children aged 4–18 years from beginner to advanced levels and ballet for the over 55s. Johanna holds her Licentiate in Imperial Classical Ballet, ISTD DDE in Tap and Modern Theatre, Level 3 Progressing Ballet Technique, Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance (ARAD) and is a Silver Swans® licensee.
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As a carer I find joining the exercises of benefit to me as I'm able to take a break and exercise along with everyone else
Kezia Mitchell (Jolly) Principal of the Vacani and Marylebone ballet schools
Six years ago, I had a call from a lady who wanted to join my adult ballet class as she had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and had read that dance could help to relieve the symptoms. At this stage, her symptoms were mild and she really enjoyed her weekly ballet class with me. Of course, I have always believed that dance can benefit so many people in so many ways; from getting fit and active to socialising and meeting new people, so I was keen to find out more about how dance specifically could help people with Parkinson’s. I felt it was very important to get some professional training. In 2016 I went to De Montford University in Leicester to attend the ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’ course and study how dance could make a difference to those with Parkinson’s. I was lucky enough to be taught by David Leventhal, one of the founding teachers for Dance for Parkinson’s which was originally founded as collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Company and Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group. After completing the course, I felt truly inspired and knew I could do more to make a difference in the lives of people with Parkinson’s, both physically and mentally. I contacted Parkinson’s UK, who put me in touch with my local area development manager. We quickly established some classes in Bedfordshire, and I had regular meetings with the Parkinson’s nurses alongside delivering presentations at conferences with Parkinson’s UK about Dance for Parkinson’s. I have not looked back since. Last year, I took on the classes in partnership with BEEE Creative after obtaining National Lottery funding, with plans to develop and grow the area we cover over the next few years. There has been a lot of research into how dance specifically can help with Parkinson’s. Universities around the world including Roehampton University in England and the English National Ballet have
been part of the research groups. The Dance for Parkinson’s programme is fundamentally built on the basis that professionally trained dancers are experts in movement, and as dancers, we know and understand about stretching and strengthening muscles, balance, coordination and rhythm. We know that there are benefits for the participants mental health in learning a new skill; particularly as depression and anxiety are common symptoms of Parkinson’s. We also know that dance helps to develop our senses, especially hearing and sight. We help participants to use fine motor skills with some of the smaller movements in their hands and fingers, as well as cognitive skills such as learning, remembering and concentrating. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition, which means there is no cure, and there is a vast and varied range of symptoms. Dance can really help with slowing down the symptoms by keeping the body and the brain active. Balance and co-ordination Dance requires balance and co-ordination, which can help participants feel more confident in their own mobility. A lot of people may have limited mobility, but I can give them confidence to work within the best of their own ability. If they feel unsteady on their feet, some of our dance movements, including sways and standing on one leg, develop balance and strength which can help them feel more confident and able in their day to day living. Co-ordination also helps us change positions or directions quickly and move different muscle groups at the same time, allowing us to do two things at once. I teach a lot of dance movements to help develop co-ordination, using movements that involve the opposite arms and legs or moving the limbs at different times. This is also good for cognitive skills as well as everyday movements.
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Left In class with Kezia Mitchell
Dance is such a social activity, where you can meet other people, but also the joy of dancing and working together gives a sense of teamwork, friendship and camaraderie. Dance is a great way of expressing yourself without speaking. Some of our participants symptoms have progressed so they can no longer speak or find it difficult to be heard, so being able to find a new way of expressing themselves through dance gives a great sense of freedom that sometimes their bodies don’t allow.
By going to the class it makes me exercise and helps me co-ordinate my movements. The class gives me something to look forward to and I know I’ll have a friendly chat with others. It gives me positive thoughts Muscle Strength We need a lot of strength in dance to be able to execute exercises correctly and to try and avoid injury. I use a lot of leg lifting exercises, as well as working the metatarsal muscles in the feet to help build muscle strength, particularly in the quads, and gastrocnemius muscles which can diminish when there is limited movement and mobility. Flexibility Dance is great for improving flexibility. I teach stretching exercises for lengthening muscles, as quite often, Parkinson’s sufferers movements become small, which can mean muscles contract and tighten. I also try and improve posture as a lot of Parkinson’s suffers can stoop (which can also contribute to falls). Mental health and well-being Mental health and well-being is a very important part of improving the quality of our participants lives. Often as well as the physical difficulties, isolation and depression can be symptoms of Parkinson’s, too.
i Further information parkinsons.org.uk
Creativity I use a whole range of music for our groups to dance to, from Dean Martin, to classical ballet music or more modern music like Christine and the Queens. Everyone loves the mixture of music and movements we learn. Everyone supports each other, and we laugh and sometimes cry together, as the music can be very emotive. Dance is a creative release and is something most of our participants may have had no previous experience of before. Everybody embraces this and leave the class without any preconceptions they may have built up before joining us. They enjoy the liberation the movement and music give them for that an hour. Setting up your own class It can be challenging to set up and establish classes and you will need to be committed and determined. I thoroughly enjoy teaching dance to people with Parkinson’s, it has been great fun, interesting, uplifting and rewarding. If it something you are interested in, I would recommend attending the training course as a starting point and following training. I would also recommend contacting your local Parkinson’s UK group before setting out on your own. Necessary qualifications I am a fully qualified and registered teacher with the ISTD having gained my Licentiate in Cecchetti ballet and my DDE in Imperial ballet, Modern dance and National dance. I also have a First Class BA Hons Degree in Dance. I am the Principal and owner of my own dance schools in London and Bedfordshire, specialising in ballet and have been teaching for over 20 years. I have had lots of successes with children being accepted into various associate programmes and vocational schools but I have always believed that dance should be available and accessible for everyone and have welcomed many diverse dancers into my school over the years. Dance | Issue 492 39
From pirouettes to podcasts We talk to Sarah Royle, a registered teacher of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, to discuss how she balances the running of her business with the production of her own podcast.
Sarah Royle Dance Teacher and Podcaster
Sarah started teaching at a young age, volunteering to help with the babies in her old dance school. Once graduated from university with her dance degree, she wanted to perform, travel and see the world. Gathering her showreel, headshots and CV, she applied to a company that was recruiting dancers in Mumbai and was thrown into a sixmonth contract with “a mix of rich culture, diverse work and a lot of dancing!” This is a testament to Sarah’s curiosity and driven nature. She returned to the UK to discover her love for teaching, and in 2011, founded Sarah Royle School of Dance. “I did not really know where I wanted to take the business, but I had a great foundation of supportive kids and parents, which was a brilliant start. I wanted to create a school with students who not only loved dancing but competing and performing. I wanted to create a community for like-minded students to have fun, exercise and give them the option to progress if they wanted to.” When the pandemic hit, Sarah initially found it very difficult. “I had visions of losing my business and my little community crumbling. I was concerned
that I wouldn’t be able to see the children I’ve spent 10 years teaching grow into the incredible teenagers that they are today”. She took some much-needed time off, reinventing her school online. “Being together is what I’ve missed the most, but I always spin a negative to a positive. There is so much good that has come from being away from each other and I have found out so many new ways of teaching and learning. The students have been so inspiring.” Sarah tells us that running a business alone can at times be quite isolating. “It can be very hard as it is, let alone with a pandemic thrown into the mix! I think students should be given the right tools at school to leave with business strategies. I had to learn from scratch by myself, with the help of the incredible dance community around me in the North West.” “I think people think we can take on anything as young women running a business, but it can be lonely and difficult. You sacrifice so much because it is your ultimate passion. I cannot imagine doing anything else, nor would I want to. There is still a lot to learn and there is so much to be grateful for, too. I wake up every day so happy that I have my school.”
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So, we ask, was there anything she did to invest in her mental health and well-being during this difficult transition period in 2020? “I started to focus on mental health and well-being in our summer schools. I love listening to podcasts about well-being, self-care, food and nutrition as I think this goes hand in hand with what we are doing as dance educators.” Sarah’s focus and drive to create awareness around what she refers to as ‘taboo subjects’ served as a catalyst for her to start her podcast, Diary of a Dance Teacher, in March 2020. “I started the podcast as something small for my students to help them stay connected and positive. Then I started to get messages from teachers, mums and dance shop owners telling me how much it was helping them throughout lockdown. The students are and always will be a huge part of my life. We have experienced so much together, and I wanted to give something back to them. I have a platform and I am lucky enough to help and guide young people, so I will always help where and when I can.” Fast forward 12 months, and Sarah has interviewed a range of influential figures and
dancers, including Rosina Andrews, Ricky Jinks, Vianney Leigh, Lukas McFarlene, Mark Meismer, and Alyx Steeles, covering topics from meditation and self-care to sustainability and well-being. “My vision was to help people in every sense. Not just from a dance perspective but from how we feel as people. I want the podcast to enlighten students; to help them realise that these huge industry influential dancers and choreographers are going through the same tough times. I believe talking and communicating is the key to creating better, healthier minds. I have had the pleasure of speaking to some of the most inspiring names in the business, from all over the world!” With the podcast receiving five-star reviews from dancers across the board, we asked Sarah what the future holds for Diary of a Dance Teacher. “Moving forward, I want to discuss prominent topics, including the Black Lives Matter movement, disability in dance, period poverty, LGBTQI+ and more, including capitalism, ‘pretty privilege’ and treatment of females in the public eye, your own self-worth, and consent.”
Above Sarah Royle speaking to life and women’s health coach Vianney Leigh
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TAYLOR LIFESTYLE PORTRAITS
With such ambitious plans to build on what is already a successful venture, we asked the allimportant question; just how does somebody who runs her own dance school manage to balance producing and running a podcast? “I have always been busy with the running of my school,” Sarah tells us. “Sometimes, I do take on too much, which is another thing I always tell my students not to do. This is something I have been working on, slowing down and not overloading myself with work. The podcast has been hard at times as editing is timeconsuming, but I have loved keeping busy. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in the last year.” “I will never stop working to be a better teacher and person and I will always be grateful for everything that I have. Shout to my staff at SRSD, you are all brilliant role models to the kids – strong females who can take on anything!”
I believe talking and communicating is the key to creating better, healthier minds Above Sarah with her students Right Sarah's podcast signature artwork
i You can listen to Diary of a Dance Teacher on all good podcast platforms, including Spotify, Acast and Apple Podcasts. The Healthy Dancer Booklet by Sarah Royle helps students reflect, journal and meditate and teaches us how to look after our bodies and minds using good nutrition. Find out more at www.sarahroyleschoolofdance.co.uk Listen to Diary of a Dance Teacher: bit.ly/DiaryofaDanceTeacher Buy The Healthy Dancer Booklet: https://gumroad.com/l/pyUEl
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Summer School 2021 Join the Education and Training team as we take our annual Summer School online from 12 July to mid-August. With online CPD to help and support all aspects of development within your teaching – syllabus and nonsyllabus in over 10 genres – something for every teacher. Upskill and refresh your knowledge on a range of subject areas, with workshops and courses taught by professional teachers and industry leaders.
Bookings due to open from first week of June Keep an eye on our website for more details.
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@ISTDdance 23/04/2021 15:39
Mental health support strategies Psychotherapist Nicolette Wilson-Clarke shines a spotlight on dancers’ mental health. Have you ever considered that mental illness has no boundaries, biases or exemptions for human beings? Mental illness is not going to pause either because we, as a world, are battling a pandemic right now. In fact, these isolating times are unfortunately a perfect breeding ground for feelings of anxiety, fear, uncertainty and worry – heightening the opportunity for mental decline.
Nicolette Wilson-Clarke Psychotherapist
Supporting dance teachers with their mental health The dance world has had many cultural changes within it, from understanding that not one size fits all, to offering nutritious and healthy food guidance to support its dancers. There is, however, one area that has been quietly neglected over the years and which continues to be kept in the shadows of most dance studios and rehearsal spaces. This area is the importance of the dancers’ mental health, which is overtly present, yet often ignored. As a dance teacher, there is a chance you have come across several reasons why your students or fellow dance colleagues have experienced episodes of poor mental health. These reasons may range from traumatic childhood experiences to adult abuse, severe stress, reoccurring/prolonged injuries or feelings of isolation both inside and outside of their training and dance world. These things can manifest in numerous ways, including depression, self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and anxiety amongst others. Sometimes, they unfortunately go unnoticed, unrecognised or unattended to within training
institutions and by the professional dance community. The unforgiving nature of the dance industry, where performers are replaceable and often seen as commodities, together with the ignorance of how to positively manage mental health issues within training spaces means that a culture of what I call ‘malware’, permeates within. Just as malware software is designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system, so does the stigma attached to mental illness disrupt and damage the dance world. It gains access in training schools where the role of a mental health personnel is tagged on to an existing role as lip service, as well as impacting the professional dancer who unwittingly subscribes to the problem by not disclosing how they are feeling for fear of judgement, loss of income, or a tarnished reputation. So as a dance teacher preparing your students for the professional dance arena, how will you equip yourself with the necessary tools to manage the mental health consequences of COVID-19 on your students, as the world attempts to re-enter a new norm? How much do you know about your own mental health? Could you recognise symptoms of mental illness within yourself or your students? As a dance teacher, would you disclose to your institution that you are experiencing mental health challenges? And what are you doing right now to support yourself? Have you created a protective mental hygiene regime that you can practice daily and share with others? It is important to remember that you are a human
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being before you are a dance teacher. To assist you in addressing the management of your own mental health resilience, below are seven support strategies that can underpin your mental health resilience. These strategies will aid you in managing your mental health, to give you the capacity to effectively serve your dance students whilst demonstrating the importance of good mental health. SEVEN SUPPORT STRATEGIES THAT CAN UNDERPIN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH RESILIENCE 1. Reach out One of the biggest support strategies of all is to talk to someone else about what is occurring for you right now. This can be scary due to fear of judgement. However, reaching out to a trusted work colleague, friend, religious leader, family member or a mental health professional, like a counsellor or psychotherapist, can help you understand that something’s not quite right. With their support, you can gain the help you need and reduce your mental load. 2. Stay connected It is easy to tuck yourself away from others when you’re feeling unwell. It is even easier now that COVID-19 has meant we have been unable to physically see each other for long durations. As social animals, we need the energy of others to ground us, help regulate our emotions, reduce anxiety and depression, increase our self-esteem and empathy for others plus improve our immune system.
During this unusual time, attempt to put opportunities to maintain a healthy connection with your dance community and other friends/ family in place. Phone calling, video calling and safely seeing each other on a consistent level are excellent and healthy ways to stay connected. Outside of lockdown periods, see how you can avoid continuing to use technology and social media as primary modes of connection. Make every effort to get outside with friends and family – eating, playing and talking. When indoors, have some television-free time where you can chat, cook or play board games together. Remember that connection is integral to your health!
It is important to remember that you are a human being before you are a dance teacher
3. Stay physical Exercise is a superb way to maintain positive health because it increases self-esteem and can lift your mood through brain chemical changes. Not only that, when regularly practiced, exercise can support action-taking and goal-attainment, which is essential to your role as a dance leader and educator. If you still enjoy dancing as well as teaching it, why not use it as your physical activity to maintain your overall health? Whatever exercise you choose, remember that it is less about the quantity of time being spent active and more about the consistency of incorporating it into your life to bring about positive change.
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Have you created a protective mental hygiene regime that you can practice daily and share with others?
4. Self care Traditional self-care tips are not really very well suited to dancers. Suggestions like indulging in take-aways or having pedicures are not quite as relevant and beneficial as perhaps foot massages and restorative yoga to support the practicalities of dance. So specific to you, why not incorporate these four self-care tips into your day, evening or weekend whenever possible or in need. These can apply both in and outside of lockdown periods. • Indulge in sports massage, physiotherapy and home body work with tennis balls/foam rollers • Write some reflective notes in a journal and remind yourself of your most recent or memorable victories • Why not use your body in a different way to counterbalance the stress of dance? Activities like swimming, another style of dance or meditation can work wonders for some quicktime self-indulgence. It allows the body’s routine movements to rest whilst maintaining physicality and keeps the motor skills of the brain active • Light a candle, decide on a book or audio and settle down to some quality time alone with all your favourite soothers 5. New skills Why not utilise the many online accredited and non-accredited courses that can support your dance teaching skills and better equip you to serve your students? Learning something new not only improves cognitive functions such as concentration, attention to detail, memory recall and problem solving but it can also reduce the chance of developing dementia in later years. Courses that inform you about preventing and maintaining mental health will not only benefit you, but your students as well. 6. Acts of kindness There’s a plethora of research that shows the health benefits received from giving to others. By regularly taking the focus away from yourself, you release feel-good hormones, experience a sense of reward, find purpose, renew selfworth and maintain human connection. For example, why not consider giving one thing away each day for a week to those you think could benefit from it? Or practice simple acts of kindness like saying thank you, checking in with friends and family and really listening to other people’s sharing can do wonders for your mental health as well as theirs and be an excellent form of mental hygiene for your mental illness prevention.
7. Be present Paying attention to the present moment has been proven to benefit your mental well-being. It is an optimum way to stay connected with thoughts, feelings, your body and even your relationship with the world around you. Actions like noticing the everyday activities eg, brushing your teeth or savouring a hot cup of tea can return you to the here and now. By doing this, you are moving away from the anxiety of the future, drawing back from the sadness of the past and reminding yourself that your only concern is the here and now. See how you can incorporate these seven strategies into your everyday routine so that you can stay on top of your mental health as it dips and dives through daily challenges. As you care for yourself, you build the resilience and resources to also care for your dance students. If you find yourself needing assistance to support your mental health, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the following mental health organisations created to help you in your moments of need. MIND – Mental health charity Non-urgent support within the UK: www.mind. org.uk / 0300 123 3393 / email@example.com CALM – The leading movement against suicide Non-urgent support within the UK: www.thecalmzone.net / 0800 58 58 58 (5pm – midnight) Samaritans – Here to listen every day, all day Non-urgent support within the UK: www. samaritans.org / 116 123 / firstname.lastname@example.org Emergency services - Urgent support within the UK: 112
i Nicolette Wilson-Clarke is founder of The Creative Genius, a coaching, psychotherapy and consulting agency supporting the emotional well-being of creatives. She produces a podcast taken from her weekly radio show, The Creative Genius Show (thecreativegenius. co.uk). Nicolette is also a co-director and Director of Well-Being at The Artist’s Safeguarding & Well-Being Hub (ASWH), which offers support to those impacted by violence and abuse within the hip hop/other dance community (email@example.com / @artistsswhub).
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Do you have an outside space that inspires you to dance? With summer upon us, where better to dance than the great outdoors? Think the beach, a garden, or your local park. Task B: Dance Outside is now open for submissions. Get creative in an outdoor location of your choosing and enter today. Task A: Dance Inside is open for submissions. Task B: Dance Outside is open for submissions. Task C: Prop/s will be open for submissions later in 2021. Find out more and enter today at www.istd.org/ISTD-Challenge
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Carole Ann Watson
Europe Carole Watson shares stories of resilience and hope from Italy
International Representative for Europe firstname.lastname@example.org
In the darkest times of seclusion and fear of the unknown, dance has proved an excellent means to motivate and provide bonding moments to people, also to those who had never had the opportunity to appreciate this art before
The pandemic has prevented us from being in our dance studios and traditional places where we perform but it hasn’t stopped our passion, creativity, and motivation. Licia Baraldi (LISTD) was determined to keep morale high, so she invited her advanced students every Saturday to dance in the local shops in Finale Emilia, near Modena, while they were closed due to the lockdown. “Sure it wasn’t easy,” concedes Licia, “to comply with COVID rules and regulations, we had to ask the shop owners to wait outside during our performance, but in the end it worked out! We performed in a different shop every week. First, we performed in a haberdashery shop, then a shoe shop, and – by the end of this experience – we had danced in every single shop in the town. During our dances we interacted with whatever was there for the clients to
see or touch – shoes, clothes, mannequins and accessories – while a video maker and a photographer were shooting. It was an amazing collaboration that kept our creativity and motivation running. The girls were enthusiastic, and the shop owners even more so, as that was a new form of publicity for them.” Meanwhile, in the historical centre of Cesena, in Northern Italy, a young adolescent was inspired to start learning dance during lockdown. How so? She spotted a dancer training on the roof terrace of a building nearby. The two began to talk and the young girl said that dancing was her most cherished dream. From the following day she started learning dance on her terrace whilst the dancer, Maria Irene (who has nearly completed her DDE), explained the movements from another terrace. What a lovely, unexpected
way to share one’s love for this art while keeping oneself motivated! Two young teachers (DDE learners) Elisa Carletti and Federica Squadroni created a project called Little Choreographic Pills, transforming moods and thoughts into movements and poems. “We live in a moment when material things have become ephemeral,” they say, “there is a need to express one’s emotions and feelings, compensating for the lack of a warm embrace.” What does this project consist of exactly? “Basically, it’s a way to send an ‘emotional gift’ over to a friend, a relative or special someone. Based on what the sender would like to express to the receiver, we create a poem, pick the music, choreograph a piece and choose a venue for our performance, which can be indoor or outdoor. When we are ready, we have a video maker record our
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performance and turn it into a tailor-made gift. These gifts travelled far, not only in Italy but also to other countries in Europe.” In the darkest times of seclusion and fear of the unknown, dance has proved an excellent means to motivate and provide bonding moments to people, also to those who had never had the opportunity to appreciate this art before. Shop owners found an original way to overcome people’s fears and promote their businesses after the lockdown. A young adolescent was able to start her dream. The dancers were constantly challenged by different surroundings and gratified by being able to perform and help others. Many people from all walks of life felt the warmth of an embrace through a special thought in the shape of a dance. Even when we least expect it, this art finds a way to amaze, support, accompany and encourage us.
Above left Part of the project entitled Little Choreographic Pills created by two DDE learners, Elisa Carletti and Federica Squadroni Above Student of Licia Baraldi (LISTD) performing in a local shop in Finale Emilia, near Modena Left Maria Irene teaching across the terrace during lockdown in Italy
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North America Astrid Sherman shares her thoughts on the evolution of a holistic dance studio
Astrid Sherman International Representative for North America email@example.com
There is a strong oral tradition of teaching dance that is passed down generation by generation. Many of us teach some or all aspects as we were taught. It is most prevalent in teaching musicality and quality of movement, which is the nuanced artistry that creates a unique dancer. How does this relate to science? Can science improve it? And where does teaching the actual skill lie, in science or tradition? Margaret Wilson PhD, a leading researcher in dance science from the University of Wyoming says: “The training of dancers is both an aesthetic and scientific pursuit.” Thirty years ago, it was still very much a world divided, with dance being considered an art and not a sport. However, my generation saw the massive strides that athletes were making with the support of sports science, and we wondered if we could borrow some of that knowledge. Jan Dunn, a pioneer of dance science in the USA, stated in 1990 that a decade earlier, the term ‘dance science’ did not yet exist. She explained that dance science was an outgrowth of the sports science and sports medicine boom of the decades, and drew on research from kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, nutrition, and psychology. The International Association of Dance Medicine & Science (www.iadms. org) was officially formed in 1990, with the goal to enhance the health, well-being, training, and performance of dancers. Over 500 global members attended their Montreal conference in 2018 to share and discuss current research. The next conference is planned in Denver, USA this October with a
dedicated Day for Teachers. Globally, there are now more than 40 specific dance science university programmes, including some Masters and PhD options. More and more dance companies, such as New York City Ballet, ABT, Royal Ballet, Australian Ballet, have embraced science like professional sport organisations. They have holistic teams for their dancers regarding individual conditioning, cardiovascular fitness, psychological wellbeing, and nutrition, which all support the dancer to be free to create artistic excellence. Besides fewer injuries, dancers are discovering how cross-training can enhance their artistic abilities. The physical and mental gains allow dancers to focus on their artistry during performances and not worry about stamina and any upcoming technical elements. But what about in the studios? There is resistance. Many dance teachers feel their rich tradition is enough. But in fact, history shows us that the traditional dance class has consistently evolved to support the needs and goals of the dancers of the time. In truth, science has been influencing art since man learned to draw. Ancient cave drawings often depict movement or life cycles.
The challenge is to find the means to bring dance science into the studio, not to replace the art form, but to enhance and support it
Finding ways to integrate dance science into dance classes can be an inspirational journey of learning for teachers. Sharing evidence-based knowledge in an impactful way, can both stimulate motivation and competency in students. The barrier of class time can be overcome. These are my top, easy to include tips that do not ‘eat up’ precious class time: • Being curious about the impact of psychological skills training – goal setting, self-talk, and imagery – on the well-being of dance students with managing stress and fatigue and as a motivational strategy • Understanding the research around perfectionism in dance and the role teachers have in this – see Sanna Nordin-Bates’ resource paper for IADMS https://iadms.site-ym. com/page/RPperfectionism • Being aware and understanding the risks of the hypermobile dancer and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – see North America’s Linda Bluestein, MD https://www.hypermobilitymd.com • Being selective about when and how to use the mirror as a teaching tool – see Sally Radell’s latest resource paper for IADMS iadms-resource-papermirrors-in-the-dance-class.pdf • Being more conscious of training load by manipulating the intensity and frequency, as they do in sport, to minimise injury risk. This is especially relevant after summer ‘de-conditioning’ and in performance weeks
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Virginia Wilmerding’s book Motor Learning and Control for Dance
Top and above IADMS Regional Day for Teachers, July 2018 at Johannesburg Ballet
• Exploring using multi-motor learning strategies in teaching, such as the three main ways students absorb information: verbal (explanations), visual (demonstrations), and kinesthetic (hands-on feedback /or using images that encourage the feeling or experience of movement) – North America’s Donna Krasnow and
• Thinking cross-training as both injury risk management and enabling focus on artistry during performance. Advocating for cross training sessions in addition to technique classes, either in group or individual settings, that address specific conditioning and alignment issues. This includes programmes such as weight training, aerobics activities, and specialised conditioning systems such as Pilates, PBT, Gyrotonics and other systems that focus on motor control issues such as alignment and neuromuscular re-patterning such as Bartenieff, Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais • Valuing the importance that ‘warmingup’ is not stretching. Warm-up is also a perfect few minutes of opportune time for simple cross-training that incorporates dance anatomy education • The role of visualisation and cueing during movement for performance and transfer of neuromuscular patterns learned in one context to another
(from cross training to dance) is being researched. One recent standout is Clare Guss-West, who was an ISTD student under Sue Passmore at Bush Davies. Clare’s recently published book, Attention and Focus in Dance, is a science based approach for teachers on more effective artistic cueing Two other groups in North America doing phenomenal outreach work connecting relevant and practical dance science information for studio dance teachers are: Healthy Dancer Canada www.healthydancercanada.org Bridge Dance Project www.thebridgedanceproject.com Science will never replace human mentoring and coaching to foster artistic growth but as North America’s dance science guru, Donna Krasnow says: “The challenge is to find the means to bring dance science into the studio, not to replace the art form, but to enhance and support it.”
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International update i
International Representative for Australasia firstname.lastname@example.org
Jess Walker says: “just ask!” Barack Obama said: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new.” It is ok to not be ok! The need to ask for help as well as the fear of doing so is not a new thing, but the current pandemic has definitely brought it to the forefront, a process that so many find uncomfortable to do – asking for help! Help to learn how to use Zoom, help to connect with students online, help just choosing what online platform to use, help to decide whether to participate in remote exams or leave them. And it is ok to need this help. On the whole, dance teaching is a very independent career, often just yourself in a studio with students, many teachers in very remote locations around our region – with Australia and New Zealand being such vast countries. Even within larger studios, you still need to work autonomously. When the dance world was thrust into teaching online, from home – all of this became so much more pronounced. We are naturally hard-wired to want to do things on our own, and the very prominent ‘she’ll be alright’ attitude makes it very difficult to admit that you might need help, that you are struggling, that you just want to touch base with someone. We fear that this will make us come across as incompetent and we naturally work hard to not be perceived this way. This battle can really affect us mentally and can lead to longer term worries and struggles. Ironically, when asked, so many of our industry are only too glad to help – happy to share our knowledge to improve our field in general.
It is okay not to be okay. It is okay to ask for a friendly catchup. It is okay to ask for professional help So, much like dance, we will only improve with practice. Remember that we are able to reach out to others when needed and to check on our ‘neighbour’. It’s not a sign of weakness, rather a sign of strength, confidence, and resourcefulness. We don’t need to wait to be asked because we are a team, and our team is united. Message a colleague, jump on a Zoom call or meeting as we are so used to doing now, and know that the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing is here to support you. That’s what the international representatives were assigned for – to get help to you as efficiently as possible. Just ask. When you can, give much needed words of encouragement to support a colleague or friend. These little things that we do make a very big difference. It is ok to not be ok. Need help? Just ask!
Remember that we are able to reach out to others when needed and to check on our ‘neighbour’. It’s not a sign of weakness, rather a sign of strength, confidence, and resourcefulness
Asia Chua Zjen Fong looks at the well-being of our businesses during the pandemic While most businesses suffered due to the pandemic, some are celebrating their success as well. In the dance community we have not been allowed to engage in any physical activity or run our businesses as normal during lockdown. However, there have been a couple of options open to us. Going online Using the internet to our advantage is not new to us but many teachers are sceptical about delivering lessons through platforms like Zoom. Teachers with some basic tech knowledge have used their laptop or mobile phone to deliver lessons via the Zoom app. There are of course many other platforms like Google Meet, Lark, DingTalk, even WhatsApp video for smaller number of students. To improve the quality of the teaching, you may consider placing an additional camera, mobile phone or web cam behind you. If you’re using Zoom, make sure you click the ‘spotlight’ function for both cameras so the students can view your front and back view to avoid any confusion during class. Try to use a Bluetooth headset with built in mic so that the students can hear you loud and clear wherever you move and not the echo behind you. As for the internet speeds, I recommend you check out YouTube where there are lots of tips and instructions on how to improve your internet speed. You may also get an additional portable modem with sim card where it uses the mobile data as an internet. In most cases, they are quite stable. Finally, for some teachers who are more tech savvy and adventurous, you may look into a tracker device like Pivo that allows the mobile phone to track your movements wherever you go. There are quite a few brands and models on the market. It uses AI technology to track your body or face. This way, you don’t have to worry about dancing out of frame.
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Chua Zjen Fong International Representative for Asia email@example.com
Goal setting Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the Society has moved over to conducting examinations remotely. This had brought tremendous positive feedback from both teachers and parents. Most dance schools would maintain using the Society’s examination as an annual end goal for their students to continue dancing. There are some teachers who prefer to create or look for online dance challenges for their students to take part it. One good example is the ISTD Challenge or the bursaries that allow students all around the world to shift their focus and showcase their talent and skills in a different way. There is even more participation compared to pre-pandemic times.
Africa and the Middle East Delia Sainsbury’s perspective on health before curriculum What is dance wellness? This is a phrase that is much bandied about in today’s dance fraternity and indeed has become a field of study gaining vast popularity. The mental as well as physical well-being of the dancer is essential to the desired longevity of career. The fields of study now include sports medicine, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and nutrition, as well as many other related fields. In the past these aspects were incorporated into our training but not to the degree that they are today. So, what has changed? First of all, the demands on the professional dancer are far greater than they even were 20 years ago. The competitive nature of dance, due to the So You Think You Can Dance genre of television programmes has definitely changed the face of commercial dance, placing it firmly in
the realms of gymnastics and making greater demands on the strength and flexibility of the ‘average’ dancer. This is resulting in feelings of despondency and inadequacy for the dancer who trains hard but realises that he or she will be unable to attain that level of facility. Coupled with this, the pandemic has resulted in interruptions to crucial training and fewer performing opportunities. Social media encourages dancers to continually compare themselves, usually in a less favourable light, and is also damaging. It can be hard for a young dancer to see that there’s a place for everyone, and everyone will find their place. Upon returning to my own studio in January, albeit on a pandemic timetable, there was a noticeable difference in the attitude of some
I cannot stress how important it is for us to educate not just the students but also the parents about the importance of continuing their dance education Examination classes are the main classes that are helping my school to survive and as a teacher and business owner, I cannot stress how important it is for us to educate not just the students but also the parents about the importance of continuing their dance education. In short, it is essential for dance teachers or studio owners to continue looking for alternatives to enable the students to continue dancing. With the vaccines things are looking positive and hopefully we will soon regain our normal lives but with more care after the lesson the whole world has learnt.
Above Waterfront Theatre School students in a calming, mindful environment
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International update i
Delia Sainsbury International Representative for Africa and the Middle East firstname.lastname@example.org
students. The mood of despondency was obvious. So being aware of this, it has been necessary to create some mental as well as physical shifts. We initiated mindfulness workshops. We are working on a reduction of time spent on social media. We are stressing that even if you work with another dancer, you do not have to compare yourself or wish to become that dancer. We are working on sensibly moderating this desire for perfection, which every dancer has. Part of the problem is that a perfectionist is being taught by a perfectionist, which exacerbates the problem of self-image, and can result in a bullying attitude if a tutor is not mindful of the dancer’s mindset at the time. Anxiety is a normal response to life’s challenges but there is a difference between ‘performance anxiety’ and an overall anxiety disorder, which has far deeper roots. Childhood experiences reveal themselves in adult reactions. Research is apparently showing that certain medications given to alter the anxiety state can result in muscle tension and therefore lead to injury. On a positive note, there are so many benefits of dance that we promote in our studios, as most dance studios are recreational as opposed to vocational. Dance improves the condition of heart and lungs. It increases muscular strength, motor fitness, weight management, coordination and social interaction with like-minded people. In a dance environment, you ‘find your tribe.’ Dance is above all fun. Every dancer no matter what age should leave a class invigorated and mentally energised. It is the time for new, innovative approaches to teaching. So as dance practitioners, let us be mindful of what the young dancer today is experiencing and not allow our personal quest for perfectionism to drive our students into a state of despondency. Theatres, dance companies, event companies, cruise lines, cabaret and other
such outlets for the professional dancer will reopen. Theatre and performance venues survived two world wars. I think with an attitude of positivity and empathy we can survive 2021! This is why my motto for this year is ‘health before curriculum.’ We need to rebuild our studios, rebuild confidence in ourselves and our dancers. If our business isn’t sound, we cannot concentrate on the progress of our dancers. So let’s just remember what we do best and have fun!
Even if you work with another dancer, you do not have to compare yourself or wish to become that dancer
Above Waterfront Theatre School students in a discussion about the training programme in these unprecedented times
54 Dance | Issue 492
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COVID-19 EMERGENCY SUPPORT STILL AVAILABLE: www.ibfund.net NEW BOOKS ABOUT DANCE WELLNESS A ROUND-UP OF SUGGESTED READING FOR MEMBERS, COMPILED BY ISTD CO-VICE CHAIR ERIN SANCHEZ Dance with Oti: The Bird Jive By ISTD Patron and Strictly superstar Oti Mabuse llustrated by Samara Hardy It’s time for Oti’s dance class! Join Oti in her dance studio and learn ‘The Bird Jive’ in a book that celebrates dance, movement and expressing your feelings – as well as teaching a short, simple 10-step dance routine. Publisher: Walker Books Ltd Attention and Focus in Dance: Enhancing Power, Precision, and Artistry By Clare Guss-West A professional reference book for dancers, choreographers and dance educators. Publisher: Human Kinetics Conditioning for Dance: Training for Whole-Body Coordination and Efficiency Second edition. By Eric Franklin An internationally renowned master teacher, Franklin has developed a science-based method
of conditioning that is taught and practiced in companies and schools around the world. In this new edition of Conditioning for Dance, he integrates the latest scientific research on strength, flexibility, and conditioning into his dance exercises. Publisher: Human Kinetics Dance Boss: a Journal for Dancers A 16-week journal created specifically for dancers that focuses on building positive habits around self-care, mental well-being and personal development. https://www.danceboss. co.uk/journal Final Bow for Yellowface: Dancing between Intention and Impact By Phil Chan with Michele Chase Phil Chan, arts advocate and co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface, chronicles his journey navigating conversations around race, representation, and inclusion arising from issues in presenting
one short dance—the Chinese variation from The Nutcracker. Armed with new vocabulary, he recounts his process and pitfalls in advising Salt Lake City’s Ballet West on the presentation of a lost Balanchine work from 1925, Le Chant du Rossignol. (Re:) Claiming Ballet Edited by Adesola Akinleye Though ballet is often seen as a white, cisheteropatriarchal form of dance, in fact it has been, and still is, shaped by artists from a much broader range of backgrounds. This collection looks beyond the mainstream, bringing to light the overlooked influences that continue to inform the culture of ballet. Publisher: Intellect Books Performing Arts Medicine 1st Edition By Lauren E Elson Covering the full spectrum of treatment guidance for dance artists, circus artists, musicians,
and more, this practical title by Dr Lauren E Elson expertly explores the intersection of sports medicine and performing arts medicine. Publisher: Elsevier Complete Irish Dancer: Optimization of Health and Performance in Irish Dancers Edited by Róisín Cahalan, PhD A resource for those involved in the management of Irish dancers including teachers, parents, choreographers, dance company managers, strength and conditioning personnel, clinical professionals and dancers themselves, with scientifically robust, practical and applicable advice and information to ensure longevity, peak-performance and holistic well-being in Irish dancers. Publisher: Nova Keep an eye on our social pages for updates on how you could win a bundle of dance wellness reads! @ISTDdance Dance | Issue 492 55
Cecchetti Classical Ballet Vocational dance during lockdown Society Fellow, Julie Cronshaw, spoke to Rin Ishikawa about well-being and adapting to the challenges of vocational dance training during lockdown.
During these unprecedented times, students in vocational schools have had their in-studio training seriously interrupted. They will face an even more uncertain future as professional dancers than in pre-lockdown times. With theatres closed in countless countries across the world and no sign of their being re-opened for months, possibly years, how are these future professionals coping mentally and physically with all the challenges facing them?
One of my former students, Rin Ishikawa, is now in his second year at a top vocational ballet school in London. He agreed to answer a questionnaire about how his school has been managing their students’ daily training and well-being, in and out of the studio, over the past year. The students at his college were fortunate to have been able to return to studio training back in September 2020 and even performed live on stage at the end of the autumn term, although with some restrictions including wearing masks. I asked Rin how he felt when he learned that his studio classes would be stopped again for several weeks: “At first it was a lot to take in, although when it was announced, not many people were surprised about it. Something that made this situation significantly harder to accept was our having been able to dance in a studio with our friends and teachers last academic term, so this massive u-turn felt like a step back in our progress.” I wondered if he thinks he’s making the best of the limited space he has to keep in shape at home and whether he’s being guided safely through any potential hazards. Rin replied: “Yes, my current teacher Mr David Yow [ISTD Cecchetti classical ballet Licentiate] asked us personally about what type of environment we were in
and the floor material. Due to the lack of space that I currently experience, I would usually be changing my ‘front’ to fit much of the exercises in the camera angle but also in the room.” I asked Rin what his feelings are about the contents of the ballet class when he logs into online class every day. He explained: “That you always wish you could do more. You have to be much more patient than you are when you’re in the studio as everything takes much longer for the teacher’s intention to come across. As we have limited hours in the day it is a difficulty to get through an entire class.” In terms of how he’s being supported through this crisis, Rin commented: “The school has kindly organised a one-to-one Zoom call every week to see how we are doing, how we are coping with the situation and our teachers are always there for us to talk to if we need to.” I was curious to know whether the atmosphere in the online class was positive and helpful and whether classmates were able to support one another. He said: “There is certainly a positive atmosphere within the online classes. It is obviously a lot harder for us to support each other through a screen but taking classes with your peers is a great motivation and a
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ENGLISH NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL/PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASH
sense of support; the fact that we are going through this together.” On the subject of being required to take class wearing face masks – when back in the studio – Rin explained: “We are required to take class in masks. However, we have been taking classes with our masks on since the beginning of this academic year so although it is still a challenge, I think over time this becomes the new normal. The only difficulty I experience is to get my expressions across to the people watching.” I wondered how Rin sees the next few months of training and whether he is optimistic about reaching his goals: “I personally feel that responsibility and independence come into play more than ever. Although a teacher is there to watch you throughout class and to give you corrections, it depends on how much we practice and apply those corrections to our bodies. I don’t think it will be a pretty road but there are definitely things to gain from this and we will come out of this stronger.” I asked him if he’s worried about finding a job: “Definitely, yes! As the
Philippa McMeechan Head of Faculty Development for Cecchetti email@example.com
Taking online classes with your peers is a great motivation and a sense of support; the fact that we are going through this together.
arts have been affected by this largely, I strongly feel that getting a job in your graduation year is significantly harder than when this virus wasn’t a thing we needed to worry about. Also depending on how big the company is and how much financial support the company is able to receive will affect how many spaces they can afford to bring new dancers into. Not only in the UK but all over the world this is the case, so finding a job in this profession, I feel, will be harder.” I also asked about the many elements of vocational ballet training, which are of course, impossible to practice at home, such as grand allegro, partnering, virtuosity and dancing any kind of ballet solo or repertoire ‘full out’. Rin responded that because some of those elements of training have been modified online, he remains optimistic about being able to catch up on the rest, once back in the studio again. When I asked about the stress of online classes, which may be a factor for either teacher or student or both, across the whole range of situations where online learning has taken the place of live interaction, he replied that stress is there occasionally but that he can manage the levels. These answers are reassuring. I was impressed with all his responses, which show a great deal of intelligence, resilience, tenacity and optimism. My sense is that there is not only good support from the management including both mental and physical provision for the vocational dance students at this college but also the students’ sense of working together
and supporting each other – whilst remaining in physical isolation from each other – contributes hugely to their staying mentally well during lockdowns. The best result of all of this would be a return to live dance training as soon as possible of course but meanwhile the spirit of carrying on, no matter what, prevails. We all wish our vocational dancers the best of luck over the coming months and years. With the support of his teachers and a realistic yet positive outlook for his future career, I have no doubt this young man and dancers like him will light up the theatres once more. After all, without the arts, mere existence is not living. Let us all have hope for the day when the studios and theatres may be allowed to re-open, as soon as possible.
i Julie Anne Cronshaw RBS Dip. TTC (FISTD) Enrico Cecchetti Diploma Julie Cronshaw is a Master Teacher in the Cecchetti Method, a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and a Graduate of the Royal Ballet School’s Teacher’s Training Course. She danced professionally in Germany, the United States and Russia before returning to the UK to found Highgate Ballet School in 1995. She continues to direct and teach at the school as well as guest teaching in the UK and has taught internationally in France, Italy and Poland.
Above left Rin Ishikawa Dance | Issue 492 57
Cecchetti Classical Ballet ~ continued
Far Left Terry Hyde with ISTD President, Dame Beryl Grey Centre Terry Hyde with a group of dancers at Joffrey Ballet School, 2019
Left Terry Hyde as Sancho Panza in Don Quixote at the London Coliseum, 1972
Why it’s okay to not feel okay Terry Hyde, psychotherapist and retired professional dancer, tells us it is okay not to feel okay during the pandemic.
Over the last year, I have been working with many dancers and performers who have been affected by the pandemic. Some have lost jobs, or up to a year of their training. Many are wondering what the future holds for them in relation to the world of dance. Dancers who have come to me for therapy recently have been suffering from anxiety, depression, and grief. The dancers who came to therapy for grief didn’t realise it was grief at the time, since they were simply struggling to come to terms with some form of transition. Transitions of any type can create feelings of loss, and loss can cause feelings of grief. Transitions can be defined as any type of change. In the world of dance, this could be changing school, moving home or the transition from a career in dance to something new. These changes need to be acknowledged, and sometimes mourned, as they are all examples of loss of identity. The pandemic has brought up many issues for clients who have been surviving in their working life by putting on a brave face. Suddenly, because they were not going out and physically socialising, they no longer had to rely on an imaginary mask to hide their emotions. At the beginning of this transition, emotions understandably started
coming to the surface and bubbling over. Most people’s symptoms related to their suppressed emotional reactions to situations and experiences. In these situations, clients have often said to me, ‘I just put it in a box and forgot about it’. Well unfortunately, ‘it’ doesn’t forget. Your body and mind will push and push to allow these feelings to come out in one form or another. In my sessions, I work with clients to examine and process their perceptions and responses to these events. In doing so, they gradually work out how to move on from them for themselves. By dropping the mask and facing the problem, they can make a fresh start. The pandemic is a completely new situation for us all. It has created challenges for everybody, especially whilst we try to adjust to these constant changes. While we, as humans, can tend to focus on the negative aspects of these adjustments, it is important for us to look for the positive ones as well. Having a flexible way of thinking can allow us to spot opportunities instead of limitations. With a flexible mindset, any situation creates opportunities. If we look at our current situation with a flexible mindset, we are less likely to miss out on new and interesting opportunities that we will not have seen before.
One of my best pieces of advice, for students and teachers alike, is the importance of keeping up a regular routine. Routine and discipline will help you to stay focused on what is important to you at this time. I would also like to add that it is okay not to feel okay. You do not have to have a mental illness to see a therapist. If you are able to and have the access to do so, seeing a therapist simply means that you have acknowledged that you are not feeling ‘well’ emotionally and you don’t know why.
i Terry Hyde MA MBACP is a Psychotherapist and Counsellor. Having danced with The Royal Ballet, London Festival Ballet (now ENB) and performed in West End musicals, film and television, Terry is in a unique position to understand the mental health needs of dancers and uses that in his one-to-one therapy sessions and mental health self-care workshops. www.counsellingfordancers.com
58 Dance | Issue 492
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Classical Greek Dance
60 Dance | Issue 492
Pippa Cobbing Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, Greek and National firstname.lastname@example.org Right Georgina Stock Centre Russian dance Far Right Georgina Stock
The perfect balance Georgina Stock’s Classical Greek dance classes at Kilburn School of Dance helped with her university application to study history. As an A-level student who decided to continue dance four or five times a week, I often worried how I would ever keep on top of my schoolwork. I had high academic aspirations and was often told that dancing couldn’t possibly help towards a Cambridge University application; why should I keep up with the exams? The competitions? I have been dancing since I was tiny, starting out in baby ballet and, by the time I hit 16, I was competing in Classical Greek and National Dance at the All England Dance finals. Dance was such a massive part of my identity that I found I could not give it up. I decided to turn all these warnings on their head and use my passion for dance to my utmost advantage. Applying for a degree in history, I dug deeper into the origins of Classical Greek dance. I became fascinated with the classical period and even wrote an article on Plato and his theories, which was then published in the Mensa magazine. As a dance style, Classical Greek is so culturally rich and beautiful; I eagerly researched where it came from and the mythology on which it is based. I pulled on knowledge from each grade of Classical Greek and studies of gods and goddesses, traditional practices and worship, and past competition dances inspired by nature. I hedged my bets on a portion of my personal statement that
talked about my experience and interest in Classical Greek dance, hoping that this was a unique and interesting part of me that Cambridge and other universities would love. Similarly, my statement had a brief section about national dance and the origins of folklore in Europe. I started to ask my teachers why certain styles follow such a pattern. Why did Morris Dance use sticks and bells? Why does northern France dance hard shoe but southern France dance soft shoe? The history of dance is something I had scarcely dug into before and I found myself hooked. I hoped this came across in my application, and in January of this year I received an offer from Cambridge. Not only was I able to relate dance to my chosen degree, but it also proved useful in this unusual application year. I put my highest dance qualifications on my UCAS application, which painted me as a capable person with a healthy work-life balance. Dance has also helped my confidence grow, as I am able to perform in front of hundreds of people and handle pressure. Working from home, dance has been a welcome release from sitting at a desk all day and every day, especially in lockdown. Dancing in my lounge can be especially interesting, as I run around trying to find make-do torches or swords and shields for my Classical Greek lessons!
It is keeping me healthy and flexible in uncertain times and did not hinder but actually helped my academic success. I am grateful I did not drop dance to ‘focus on my schoolwork,’ as with time management and motivation, I was able to do both.
I put my highest dance qualifications on my UCAS application, which painted me as a capable person with a healthy worklife balance Dance | Issue 492 61
Classical Indian Dance Classical Indian committee member Dr Swati Raut is the Founder and Artistic Director of Swati Dance Company. We spoke to her about her practice in Parbold, North West England and explored how Bharatanatyam dance is beneficial to well-being. Swati Dance Company (SDC) was initiated in the summer of 2010, formed with the idea of propagation of Bharatanatyam through excellence in practice. At that time, there was not an Indian dance company in the North West. The focus was to make the practice more accessible to wider audiences, and the core aims to develop and mentor students for professional performance, preparing them for ISTD exams and Arangetrams, or ‘dance graduation’. Swati wanted to offer educational workshops in schools and communities to promote and educate people in South Asian dance and music. Swati Dance Company is a staple dance company to not only those in Parbold, Lancashire but also to the wider dance community
in the North West of England. So, what has the ongoing pandemic meant for SDC and Classical Indian dance? In response to COVID-19, SDC was granted money in the Emergency Response Fund from Arts Council England, helping the company to continue with classes at a reduced fee for all; beneficial to those whose income had been affected. “We were able to run fun fit sessions for adults, continue our mentoring sessions and intensives for the Youth Group and host useful webinar sessions”. Work has continued since March 2020, but not as usual. Classes are running digitally, and, Swati says “the process of moving to online teaching meant that a few students were lost, and a few others gained from further afield. Digital diligence is my new motto. It is exhausting and sometimes frustrating, both for the teacher and the taught. I think one can teach the art digitally… but not the craft.” Swati tells us that she has seen resilience, changed attitudes, and determination in the world of
Bharatanatyam dance, but the inevitable change of process has come at a cost for dancer-teacher relationships, and ultimately, students’ wellbeing. “The joy of a face-to-face dance class has been lost. Delegating jobs and assigning roles used to give students a sense of importance”. Swati notes that teaching has become impersonal, with the lack of her regular communication with parents a factor. “Most students are engaged, but it almost feels mechanical. A lot of effort has to be made to sustain their interest week after week.” Fortunately, the physical aspects of Bharatanatyam dance remain beneficial to her students’ well-being. “Akin to the practice of any dance form, regular practice improves fitness. Practiced correctly, it is a very strenuous physical activity that requires both stamina and endurance. The very basic, signature half-sitting stance, Araimandi, requires correct body alignment. A good posture, balance, a strong core, and agility are some of the physical qualities required. It’s like the chicken and the egg, you need to be fit to do Bharatanatyam
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Lisa Harrison-Jones Head of Faculty Development for Modern Theatre and Classical Indian email@example.com
Left to right Swati teaching the three important means of communication in Bharatanatyam dance; the physical body, face and eyes
Below Swati and her students pose in traditional Bharatanatyam costume
and Bharatanatyam keeps you fit!” Swati adds “Bharatanatyam not only has a highly developed gesture language, but also the most sophisticated use of eyes and facial expressions. With so many aspects to think about simultaneously, one needs to be completely focused and immersed. Such immersion in practice makes you forget the mundane worries. A superb prescription for mental wellbeing”. The culturally immersive aspect of Bharatanatyam also plays an important part in raising self-esteem. “By default, a student of Bharatanatyam gets exposed to the rich tapestry of Indian poetry, myths, legends, and a myriad mythological characters.” As well as the important cultural connotations of the practice, we wondered if the fact Bharatanatyam is practiced in the countryside played any part in the mental health and wellness of Swati and her students. “Waking up to just the sound of the wind or birds is so much better than sounds of the traffic. Parbold, the village where I live is so tiny that if you are in a car and blink twice you have missed it. Nobody walks past you without acknowledging you.” From the sounds of this, we certainly think so! Dance | Issue 492 63
Contemporary Dance The Pregnant Dancer Chloe Hillyar, researcher and founder of The Pregnant Dancer project, examines the challenges facing dancers who want to have a family. PHOEBE MELISSA PULLINGER
As a female anticipating fertility issues, planning for a family seems somewhat of an improbable prospect, especially for a dancer. I took the traditional route of training at a dance conservatoire, after which I graduated into the freelance lifestyle. During my training, a peer of mine discovered she was six months pregnant. Our course was highly physical, and the school was ill-equipped to support her; she was forced to drop out. As a result, I adopted the notion that pregnancy and dance were incompatible. As demonstrated, pregnancy (and parenthood) in my experience, was not addressed during training and is seldom discussed in the sector. As a dancer, naturally, I am career-driven, but outside of dance I am characteristically maternal. However, for fear of being deemed unambitious, I sidelined my maternal interests and suppressed concerns regarding fertility for a later date. That was until the 2018 One Dance UK Conference in Leeds. During the conference, I became particularly engrossed in a talk given by Performance Specialist, Dr Steve Ingham. He spoke about his experience working with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill during her first pregnancy prior to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. He designed and delivered a programme with the aim of maintaining Jessica’s elite sporting ability that also accommodated each trimester. And furthermore, supported her postpartum transition back into high intensity training. To
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PHOEBE MELISSA PULLINGER
Michaela Ellis Artistic Projects Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
group of maternal dancers (case studies). These classes were delivered once per day over the course of three days. The classes were due to take place in-person within a studio environment. However, the government announced a second national lockdown at the time the experiment was supposed to take place and the studio was no longer available. In response, I shifted the programme online. This turned out to be an unexpected benefit. The accessibility and instant Left and Above Chloe's research findings in action nature of online classes suited the participants better due to tolls me, this bespoke service seemed of sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, and revolutionary. I wondered how this could pre-existing childcare responsibilities. be implemented on a national level for Having the classes available to them dancers. My back-benched maternal at home omitted the cost of childcare, interest sprung to the front of my mind. travel expenses and the added risk of Dancers are unique in that they rely contracting COVID-19. This accessibility on their body to work and pregnancy proved to be an extremely important can take away their ability to earn a aspect for maternal dancers. It was living. And yet, there is an absence the difference between being able to of physical support for the maternal attend class and being absent from it. period in our sector. To combat this, I won Arts Council funding to develop Case Study B, 2020 a system of training that supports 27 out of 50 artists have children. Out of maternal dancers. This research project the 23 who did not have children, 79.2% is called The Pregnant Dancer and stated they wanted them. In conclusion, exists to end maternity discrimination. 47 out 50 artists in the dance sector, The research seeks to create a system either want or already have children. of training that ensures safe physiological Suffice to say that most dancers will practice for maternal dancers. The aspire to start a family/become pregnant training addresses issues of inconsistent at some point during their careers. information regarding physical activity Participants noted that there are during pregnancy in relation to the inconsistent sources of information demands of dance employment. regarding pregnancy, and an additional It provides a safe programme for lack of physical support for pregnant professional dancers to maintain and dancers. Considering that British dance recover their technique. As a result, I was ‘founded by women’ (Jennings, L hope to support freelance employment 2013), it seems unfitting that the dance prospects, the normalisation of maternity, sector is ill-equipped for pregnancy. and grow parent participation in a As a professional dancer, I professional, performance context. understand the penalty that pregnant The research began by creating a women pay. I am not the first to realise database of un/employed parent dancers, this, and I certainly will not be the last. I policies addressing parent employment, am however, as far as I know, unusual and contemporary dance curricula in the in the fact that I carry this interest UK. I collected this data via a general without having experienced pregnancy. survey that reached 50 artists. Then I The Pregnant Dancer is my first, albeit worked with three artists to deliver six small, contribution to this movement. experimental maternal classes to a select
I hope this research offers a reflective and much-needed resource for dance practitioners who wish to plan a family, and even for those who do not. I hope my findings can stimulate further thought-provoking discussions in the hope that dance leaders may hear it and make better choices regarding their employment practice. And lastly, I hope my post-research recommendations serve as new ideas for how dance and parenthood may co-exist. I have written a full report that details the physiological considerations, research findings and my proposal for a maternal class formula. To read The Pregnant Dancer Report, please visit www.thepregnantdancer.com TPD needs you! I would also like to invite the ISTD’s members to get in touch to carry on the pregnancy conversation. This conversation is open to all gender identities regardless of having the ability to fall pregnant. The Pregnant Dancer website curates data, stories and resources to share amongst the dance community. I want to grow this community to reach as many people as possible. Whether you are a parent, someone thinking about starting a family, or interested in this research, email email@example.com to add your voice to the movement.
i Chloe Hillyar is a researcher and founder of The Pregnant Dancer, a dance project that ran from Nov 2020 – Jan 2021, funded by Arts Council England. If people would like to know more about pregnancy, parenting or caring, readers can engage with The Pregnant Dancer project, Dance Mama, and Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts (PiPA). Read more on our website, with an article by Lucy McCrudden, Founder of Dance Mama: istd.org/DanceMama
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Contemporary ~ continued
The Pregnant Dancer project participant Elly Braund We speak to Elly Braund, a participant in the three-day project. Elly signed up during pregnancy and was six weeks post-partum with her first child, Orli, when the project began.
Can you tell us a little about the reality of taking part in a class with a new baby in tow? The project was originally meant to be in the studio with childcare provided. However, it was inevitably moved online due to COVID-19. My partner is a dancer and yoga teacher, and at the time was teaching in studios, so we were suddenly without childcare. Initially, I thought things would be fine. Surely the baby could be at home with me sleeping? As time went on, I realised that at six weeks old, naps are really irregular, and babies require constant attention. I wondered how I would manage this when the three days of classes came. Day one There were three days of classes. On day one, my partner was able to go out on a walk with Orli. It was the first time I’d been apart from her since she was born, and as much as I didn’t want her to leave, it was also kind of amazing. It was the first time I’d had time to myself and I found it really emotional. As soon as I started moving, I was crying. At that point, I had been through the pregnancy, labour, and now had a child that all my focus was on. It is stressful and tiring and there are always worries. Then there in that moment, I knew she was perfectly safe on a walk with her dad and I had the freedom to move. Day two I had a tired mum moment and got the timings wrong, so the childcare I had organised was going to arrive after the session had finished. Although Chloe was recording the sessions so that we could do them at a later time, I decided to try to join in, put Orli in a bouncy chair and do my best. Miraculously, she watched me for the whole session, and I was able to continue talking to her as I took part. Day three I joined one of the dancers in the prenatal group. She was able to complete her session and then watch Orli while I completed mine, which worked really well. What worked particularly well for you as a new mum? Being online was a blessing. Initially, I thought that it would be nice to be out of the house and thought it would be wonderful to have childcare provided while I danced. Instead, when Orli
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To have a space where a pregnant dancer can exist, to be celebrated rather than sacked, is huge and really valuable ANDRE USPENSKI
reached six weeks, I was happy that I was not handing her over to someone that I didn’t know and that I wasn’t travelling on a train, especially during the pandemic. I was happy that I was in my own home, that Orli was in a space that she knew, and that I could be available for her when she needed me. The classes were not given gingerly, instead, they were delivered with options to allow each of us to engage with the work as intensely as we felt we could. This approach helped me to realise that I was still capable of doing almost everything. My core was a bit weaker but that was almost the only difference. Chloe taught me that I had more strength after going through pregnancy, although this obviously depends on each individual’s experience of pregnancy and labour. For me, this is what was great about the project. The work was still challenging, but I knew I was working with people who had the knowledge of pregnant and post-natal bodies and were well informed to guide us. As professional dancers, your body is used to moving. The fact you have had a pregnancy does not mean that everything completely falls apart. I didn’t know that. Much of the experience was about mental health and looking after myself, and how important that was. Did the project have any unexpected benefits or outcomes for you as an individual? The biggest benefit was meeting and talking to other women who are dancers and mums. Chloe built in time to talk before and after class, which was so important. One of the dancers I met was two years post-partum and I
was able to learn from her experience, which I took huge comfort in. For me, I couldn’t imagine being able to work again; logistically, not physically. There’s a lot of things that you can’t imagine or comprehend, like ‘how do I figure out childcare?’ The other mothers in the group were really supportive, reassuring me with the experience of having been through the same thing themselves. It was incredible to hear about their journeys, because I could see that it will all work out. Why do you think this work is important? There are so many misconceptions in the industry and generally about pregnancy and strength and what women are capable of. I think I had those misconceptions myself. I didn’t expect to be as strong and active as I was throughout my pregnancy. I was hiking up hills in the lake district when I was 34 weeks pregnant and it didn’t take me long to feel physically ready to move again after giving birth. There was a period where I needed recovery, but it didn’t take that long. The body can heal, and stamina can increase through pregnancy. There needs to be a supportive environment for parents to return to and flexibility for dancers around childcare and timing. My partner is about to embark on a dance project and the company are really supportive, having already acknowledged that they can be flexible if there are any childcare issues, or if I need help. I am hopeful that I may find this to be the case when I return to work. The work Chloe and other women are doing is extremely important.
Left Elly Braund with daughter Orli Above Elly in Sisters Grimm's INALA
What are your hopes and ambitions for outcomes of this project long term? Increased knowledge, support and awareness. There are so many parents in the dance industry that shouldn’t feel restricted because they have children. It needs to be spoken about more, organisations and companies need to consider this when they are planning work and seeking funding to encourage parents back into the studio. I hope that the industry starts to retain talent by offering better support for parents who want to work and bring their experience and passion to audiences. As dance artists, we are understanding; it’s in our make up to work in communities and to understand each other. Experiencing birth and motherhood is a transformational and wonderful thing to be celebrated in every context including the dance world.
i Elly Braund is a freelance dancer and has worked in the industry for 10 years. She performed with Richard Alston Dance Company for nine years, toured with the Mark Baldwin and Ladysmith Black Mambazo production Inala – A Zulu Ballet in 2019, and was one of 27 British dancers chosen to perform in Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, celebrating the life and work of Merce Cunningham. Dance | Issue 492 67
Disco, Freestyle, Rock n Roll and Street We spoke to Laura Davies, registered dance teacher at Dance-Beat, about her experiences of taking part in our DFR and street dance online competitions.
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Amanda Tapp Head of Faculty Development for Disco, Freestyle, Rock’n’Roll and Street firstname.lastname@example.org
Right Laura Davies’ students enjoying Dance-Beat online competitions. Dance-Beat holds classes across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire
“At the first lockdown, transitioning to online classes and taking part in online competitions was a learning curve for us. The first obstacle was space to perform our routines and the next was teaching them over the internet via Zoom.” Laura says. After a few weeks, work for Laura fortunately settled into a routine and her students were able to get back into the studio to recap set dances before submitting videos for the online DFR and Street Dance online set competition. “I love a challenge. The online competitions have given me an opportunity to gain new skills and adapt new ways of teaching.” Laura told us it took a lot of planning to arrange a space to teach online lessons form her kitchen, whilst juggling homeschooling both of her children – something a number of dance teachers will be able to relate to. “I have managed to fit it all in, although it has meant some late night working and planning!” This brings us to the subject of mental well-being. Laura tell us the online competitions have had a positive effect for both her and her students. “It has given us something to focus on and look forward to. Students were excited to be able to dance their set dance routines that they had been working on for a long time and now look forward to seeing what an Imperial Society of
Teachers of Dancing event is like.” “For myself, the competitions have aided my drive to carry on teaching our online classes for a long period of time and keep active, along with researching new opportunities for my pupils to take part in. It has given me a push to take part in courses and online lessons, so I can develop my skills and pass them on to my students with the aim of them achieving their best results at competitions”. Laura has found the various DFR Faculty and Society online member meetings beneficial, with the ability to speak and connect with fellow dance teachers, examiners, committee members and staff being important factors. “It has been lovely to speak to other people who are passionate about dance.” She mentions the DFR Faculty at the Society have been very supportive, giving important guidance to provide a smooth transition to online teaching. “I must also note that student’s parents have been a great help, filming some of the routines at home and providing important support to their children and their practice.” Ultimately, we concluded that the ability to host online competitions has meant that Laura has seen an uptake in students wanting to take part in our private and group lessons. We asked her if this meant she had plans to carry on hosting competitions
digitally once restrictions were lifted; “Currently, we are learning new set dances ready for then. The excitement of learning new routines and looking forward to online competitions that the Society have planned will encourage our school to continue.”
It has given me a push to take part in courses and online lessons, so I can develop my skills and pass them on to my students Dance | Issue 492 69
Imperial Classical Ballet To pas de chat or not to pas de chat... Suzanne Finighan, adult ballet dancer at Splitz School of Dance highlights the value of adult ballet classes. A pas de chat – I can still remember Mrs Buller’s exasperation, her sharp eyes looking at me aged six, dressed in a white tunic with a pink sash. My legs tangled around themselves and my cheeks flushed to match my sash. And I never quite got it. Even though I transferred my allegiance to contemporary dance and continued classes well into my 20s, I never truly mastered the balletic cat step. Fast forward to a lady in black leggings, the wrong side of 55, and a smile that even the Cheshire Cat would be proud of. Thanks to the patience of Gemma, teacher at my adult ballet class, I only went and bloomin’ well got it! So why the draw of adult ballet? My local dance school, Splitz, has taught all three of my children to dance, indeed my 18-year-old son still attends classes. On announcing they were going to offer a ballet class for adults I literally grand jetéd into the village hall. A fortuitous leap as it turned out. I can hand on heart say it’s the most sociable of classes, great fun 70 Dance | Issue 492
Pippa Cobbing Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, Greek and National email@example.com
Right (Left to right) Sharon Primrose, Andrea Litchfield, Suzanne Finighan and Margaret Kendle at the Royal Opera House open class Far Right Suzanne Finighan with members of her adult ballet class
and a brilliant way to meet people. Most of us have danced as children, but not all, and the beauty of ballet is once the basics are learnt the exercises can be adapted depending on the experience of the dancer. There is an inherent discipline and structure to the class that ensures it’s a safe form of exercise, plus an opportunity to dance and move in the security of a classroom setting under the watchful eye of a trained teacher. Maybe not so secure when we ‘Zoom’ our way through the pandemic as floor coverings and random bits of furniture raise the stakes on the challenge front! But we keep going thanks to the support of Splitz and our teachers adapting the lesson to be more ‘home-friendly’. Gemma, my teacher commented: “I would say it’s more of a relaxing experience teaching adults, you don’t need to remind them of details like ‘spatial awareness’. It’s very rewarding seeing an improvement in their posture, technique and flexibility and to see adults enjoying themselves and focusing on an activity for them. I approach the class with a little humour, which helps to relax the mood but the main thing for me is being able to see people re-live their childhood memories.” Ballet gives so much in return, and for me what sets it apart from Pilates and running, which are other forms of exercise I enjoy, is that it’s not just about
teasing aching muscles into seemingly unnatural shapes. There’s the music, the artistic connection lifting our spirits as we aim to get our grand battement just that little bit higher. Yes, we may be in a village hall but in our mind, we are lost in our own world, on our own stage. For me this magic always happens during the gorgeous port de bras section, the majesty of the music combined with the opportunity to slow down, breathe and perform to our imaginary audience. Ballet is the ultimate form of mindfulness. You can’t think of anything else, concentrating on the steps and trying to make it look both effortless and graceful. There’s the joy at mastering the sequence, then the dawning realisation that you have to do the whole thing again, on the other side!
Ballet is the ultimate form of mindfulness “Ballet is a great workout for the whole body and has many benefits. It can help to improve posture, balance, stamina, strengthens and develops muscle tone, improves flexibility and builds strength. Because ballet uses the full range of muscles, it’s also great for cognitive
functions such as coordination and concentration as well as learning a new skill in a different language,” says Gemma. Amongst my fellow students there is a support and respect for each other that is neither judgmental nor competitive. Friendships have blossomed beyond the class, we share and admire ballet videos on our WhatsApp group, coffee and cake after class is a regular outing, and some of us even participated in an open class at the Royal Opera House – now that was very special! Yes, the balance may be challenging as we wobble our way through an adage. Pirouettes are daunting without the recklessness of youth giving us the impetus and courage to turn, and we have a giggle at how, like a fine wine, giddiness certainly improves with age. Unlike our youthful counterparts we don’t aspire to become professional dancers, we cheerfully accept we will never dance Swan Lake so we can relax and simply relish the moment. It’s quite straightforward, we just aim to do our best. So why not give it a go? Both your body and your mind will thank you for it, and like the cat who got the cream you too may well finally bloomin’ well get it!
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Malcolm Hill Head of Faculty Development for Latin American, Ballroom, Sequence firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether old or young, dance can give everyone a chance to find a connection between movement and music
Well-being in the studio Committee member, Richard Still, reflects on the benefits of Latin American dance.
It is clear to say that anybody who steps into the world of dance, or into a dance studio, has a goal in mind, whether it is to learn something new, for fitness, or the interaction with others. Dance is great for well-being, and whether you’re a dance teacher or student, the sense of reward and ‘feel good’ when you experience dance is immense. Physical, economic, social and psychological well-being can be enhanced through dance. This has been highlighted throughout the pandemic, with the reduced ability to get into dance studios and the lack of goals through missing competitions and exams. Although much of the dance world has moved online,
lockdowns have shown that many of the parameters that dance offers in a well-being sense have been diminished. Reduced space has given less physicality, and the lack of shows and studio operations has reduced many dancers’ ability to earn from this great industry. Socially, people have been able to come together digitally, but people’s body language and warmth play an important part in human interaction. Generally, online classes are more functional and clinical. Online competitions have been an interesting development and show how our industry adapts to ever changing situations. Some are designed to give a focus, fullfilling an individual’s sense of direction in dance. The initial uptake for online competitions was strong and the online competition scene is on the up. This is due to the ‘feel good’ of competition, the interaction with others and the sense of normality. Vibez Dance Studio in Reading where I teach ballroom and Latin American dance is a multi-studio facility that offers all forms of dance. Generally, people turn up for classes to improve their mental health and to get the feel from the style of dance they have chosen along with the good connection they have with the music. This interaction
provides a release from the stress of work, a sense of meaning and purpose in the achievement of steps or figures, and the sense of accomplishment from winning. Whether old or young, dance can give everyone a chance to find a connection between movement and music. Dance connects people and offers a chance to stay fit and healthy. When people dance they take notice of themselves, the others around them and they feel the flow of the music, while learning new dances or figures and different ways to explore the way the body works. Dance also gives us the ability to earn and to pass on our knowledge to others. Being a dancer offers the full journey of life….
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Modern Ballroom I cannot wait to get back into our studios again and see our pupils’ smiles, brought about by the joy that only social dancing can bring.
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Malcolm Hill Head of Faculty Development for Latin American, Ballroom, Sequence email@example.com
Right Diana Clifford Centre Adult distance dancing class Far Right Distance dancing
Believe in ballroom Registered teacher Diana Clifford gives her perspective on how ACS Dance Centre has adapted dancesport classes to promote the well-being of pupils and staff throughout the pandemic. Who would have thought that over a year on the pandemic would still be having such an impact on all our lives and our studios? When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, we like many studios, had already brought in measures of distancing and sanitising and could see the writing on the wall, but still the sudden total closure was a shock and a devastating blow. Overnight we closed our doors as did so many and we were forced to spend the evening calling all our students and teachers to cancel the Saturday classes. In a way this time pressured deadline kept the gravity of the news from fully sinking in on that first Friday evening, so it wasn’t until later that the shock set in. Like many studios we felt a little panic, as our livelihoods and the reason many of us had for getting up each day, was simply snatched away, yet I personally also felt a huge sense of responsibility towards both our students and their families as well as our staff, as all of our incomes disappeared overnight. In order to support each other it was important also to stay calm and get as much information and research as much as possible before formulating our long-term plan. In the short-term we decided to record as much class content as possible at every level and genre of class. I spent
two weeks recording and editing classes, from warm-ups and syllabus to routines for each dance rhythm that could be danced solo and accessed online by our pupils. We also adapted a section of our website with downloadable colouring games, quizzes and even word searches to keep the children, now suddenly home all day, from driving their parents mad. Our school Facebook group became a lifeline for all to connect, share and comment and, as Principal of the school, I grasped the mantle of Facebook Live amongst many other new skills and ways to reach out and reassure our ACS family. Speaking live and off the cuff was in fact quite cathartic, and as a school we were brought so much closer together. Those I sought to support became a huge source of support for us as well, helping us all to keep positive and mentally healthy. Dancers and dance teachers are creative, inventive and adaptable. Online dance teachers’ groups pooled resources and shared ideas and techniques to help and support one another right across the globe and we all embraced new high-tech skills and got used to not being able to plan that far ahead and going with the flow! Firstly, we as a school offered weekly classes on Zoom for the children’s classes and although not everyone took this option up immediately in the first wave,
those parents that did were so grateful for the normality and contact with dance it gave their children that they ‘sold’ it to other parents for the following lockdowns, who then did not want to miss out. The adult classes were probably more of a surprise success on Zoom. Many of our ballroom adult members come along without partners because they are not all couples and they are a sociable group. The social aspects of Ballroom and Latin dancing became extremely important to them. We have had so many positive comments from our students that the classes online both in the early days of lockdown and now, have been the highlight of their week and the loyalty it has created cannot be overstated for when we return to normality. The physical aspects of dancing and keeping fit were obviously going to be beneficial at this time of being indoors, just like the Joe Wicks workouts. However, doing a Salsa or Waltz routine together with friends, all in their respective living rooms on Zoom, uniquely has the power to make everyone smile and feel so much better mentally. Whether it was our youngest 3-year-old pupil practicing their Cha Cha wiggles in their Disney dress-up week outfit or our more mature 79-year-old using their tea-towel in their Paso caping action practice, the overall Dance | Issue 492 75
Modern Ballroom ~ continued Left Students of ACS Dance Centre
feeling from Zoom class dancing was an increase in happiness and an opportunity to chat and dance with friends again. We felt it was vital to encourage social opportunities for our pupils to talk to each other and their teachers within the class structure and this is always a part of every class, plus we try to use the Zoom resources themselves such as reaction buttons and gimmicks, embracing the ‘screen shares’ with fun and inspirational content, discussing who is their favourite on Strictly and really thinking outside the box, or within the Society’s Box Dance content too. It has all helped with well-being for both our dancers and our teachers. Our teaching team ‘think tank’ meetings, WhatsApp group chats and impromptu quiz nights have kept up the team’s morale and ours too as principals and we were so grateful for the opportunities the dancesport faculty provided with online freestyle and ballroom competitions that have kept everyone focussed on the future and continually setting new goals when others have been stripped away. In many ways the pandemic has meant that we have grown as a team and as teachers, becoming even closer to our pupils and their families. As we look forward I feel optimistic that people will be hungry and eager to get back on the
dance floor and that there may even be a surge in dance interest. Just as during the Great Depression and the Second World War, which created a huge popularity in dance with the public seeking escapism, often renewed interest coincides with the darkest periods of our history. Dance is therefore due a boom period, which we must be ready to respond to. We only need to look at the huge audience numbers for Strictly Come Dancing in 2020 to see that the public was especially keen to forget their troubles and lose themselves watching Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Patron Oti Mabuse and Bill Bailey and their contemporaries each Saturday night. Strictly and ballroom dancing quite possibly kept us all going over these last few months. I for one cannot wait to get back into our studios again and see our pupils’ smiles, brought about by the joy that only social dancing can bring. Testimonial quotes:
“Thank you for the Zoom certificates. I cannot praise ACS and all the staff enough for giving the kids some normal!” Gemma Perry
“Thank you all at ACS you have been the one constant that our kids have needed so badly all year.” Kaylea Correia
“I really admire how ACS adapted so quickly to these crazy times and has been able to offer such amazing lessons and support to students.” Charlie Faulkner
i Diana Clifford is Principal and joint Director of ACS Dance Centre in Romford with her husband Mark. ACS is an Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing dancesport and theatre faculty studio and overall winner of Dance School of the Year 2020. Diana is an ex-professional dancer and teaches dancesport and theatre genres as diverse as salsa, ballroom and ballet, as well as working as a ballroom dance instructor for P&O Cruises (when cruises sail again). Diana is also a Chance to Dance associate artist with the Royal Opera House.
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The pure joy of dancing Geraldine Mannion, a senior pupil of committee member Richard Miles, shares the impact Ballroom dance has had on her life. either: “Amazing, I can't wait to have a go!” Or: “Absolutely no way!” Thankfully, I was hooked from the moment I arrived, and would really love the opportunity to try one day, even though I am still a relative beginner and have only done my first two exams. What really struck me was how inclusive dancing is. I saw all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes on the dance floor that day, but what they all had in common was a pure love of dance. It took the first lockdown last year, however, before I realised just how much
Above Geraldine Mannion I danced as a teenager but only rediscovered the joys of Ballroom and Latin a few years ago, after a gap of 34 years! It is a total fluke that I found my way back into the ballroom, but I am so glad I did. A shoulder injury put paid to my weekly Ceroc, with all its spinning and vigorous arm movements, and I found myself missing dancing so much. A friend I used to do Ceroc with found out they were doing ballroom and Latin in Henley Town Hall so we thought we’d give it a try. The rest as they say is history. I was very quickly welcomed into the Miles School of Dancing family by Richard, Gemma, Jenni and all their other wonderful helpers, and soon realised how passionately they care about us all. Through all the ups and downs of life over the past few years, from family bereavements to the pressures of work, dancing lessons have remained the highlight of my week. With all that is going on in the world at the moment we need some escapism and as soon as I start dancing, I forget everything else. I went to watch my first ever competition last year and was told I would probably have one of two reactions,
What really struck me was how inclusive dancing is. I saw all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes on the dance floor that day, but what they all had in common was a pure love of dance
dancing really meant to me. It wasn’t just the exercise, but the interaction with other human beings, the sense of camaraderie, the sense of belonging. Dancing makes me happy and when that was suddenly taken away, I was bereft. I live alone, often work alone, and all of a sudden there was absolutely nothing in the diary, just months of blank pages stretching ahead. When Richard announced last year that he was going to put on an extensive programme of online lessons, workshops, dance-related quizzes and socials I actually burst into tears. I signed up for everything that was going, and for the past year I have been dancing harder than ever before, learning new techniques and steps, having fun and connecting with all my dancing friends again, several times a week. I was delighted to win Richard’s ‘Lockdown Learner’ award at our virtual Christmas social and have just enjoyed another month of amazing dancing. Richard linked up with the Dancesport Janfest last month and we were able to join workshops from some of the best dancers and teachers in the business. In between lockdowns, we made it back to Henley Town Hall for a few precious weeks of socially distanced dancing. Amazingly, you could see straightaway which of us had been doing the virtual classes, so they do work! Even after I managed to break my ankle in the middle of that period, I couldn’t keep away and turned up to watch, learn and just be a part of it all again. To anyone who is thinking of starting any sort of dancing, I would say just go for it. It will be the best decision you ever made.
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Lisa Harrison-Jones Head of Faculty Development for Modern Theatre and Classical Indian firstname.lastname@example.org
Left to right Students with Val Jones, FISTD
Beyond studio technique Val Jones (MA), Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Fellow, talks to us about looking above and beyond studio technique. Dancers learn to dance by dancing, just as swimmers learn by swimming, and surgeons learn by performing surgery. What do all these professions have in common? They are dependent upon developing skills and techniques that are unique to their occupation. These skills are the result of constant practice and repetition, which develop the motor programming essential for seemingly efficient, precise and effortless movement. All of the above use the physical body to achieve their goals but whether these goals are reached depends to a great extent upon the efficacy of their technique. Let us consider the male dancer and the competitive male swimmer, both require similar physical attributes; strong torso, strong upper body, and powerful lower limbs, but the acquisition of these physical traits is the result of movements performed in a particular way to achieve a particular function. A professional dancer cannot become an elite swimmer and vice versa by virtue of their physicality alone, and neither the dancer nor the swimmer can excel by just training the body and never swimming in a pool or taking a dance class. It is the brain that shapes the body. So, if we think of technique as the integral mechanical part of the artistic performance, dependent upon an acquired skills set, why look beyond the studio at other exercise programmes? It is
important to be very clear about whether you are trying to resolve a technical or physical problem. The physical is dependent on the architecture of the body and its joints. It is the raw material we are born with. The technical is what you do with the physical and is linked to the development of motor control. Charts outlining a host of exercises for muscle groups are readily available, but movement is not dependent on an individual muscle or muscle group, it is instead how they integrate with many aspects of the human anatomy. The joints and muscles that perform a movement are used in a specific way and, most importantly, in a specific order, so exercises should be chosen that replicate and serve that recruitment. Selecting exercises that contribute to this link between brain and body will facilitate the acquisition of technique and avoid wasting time and effort. Exercises should be chosen to serve the technical process which, in turn, should serve the artistry. The world of dance science has made enormous advances over the past decade and we should be willing to unlearn things to make way for new ideas and theories, and at the same time question everything. One should be selective and understand that even carefully chosen exercises cannot be general prescriptions. We are in the business of teaching incredible people who have chosen to become
dancers; therefore, we should always remember we are teaching a person, not just the exercise, and devise an individual programme tailored to their needs. In doing so, we can enable our students achieve the control, co-ordination, sequential movement and correct muscle recruitment needed for the dance studio.
We should be willing to unlearn things to make way for new ideas and theories i Val Jones (MA) is an Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Fellow and Examiner ISTD MTB, TP, ICB Qualified Pilates Teacher (BCPL3) Dance | Issue 492 79
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Pippa Cobbing Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, Greek and National email@example.com
Left to right Heather Burns and primary school children demonstrating patterns for Farandole
Sharing the joy of national dance Committee member Heather Burns looks at how dance can help the well-being of the older generation of carers. For so many of us it was the shock and impact of lockdown on our lives and livelihoods that we found difficult. During the first lockdown, I lost all my teaching in schools, so I volunteered to help family carers isolated at home, supported by Blackburn with Darwen Carers Service. I strongly believe it is important to always find a positive out of a negative. This role still continues and is very fulfilling as there are always other people worse off than ourselves. This particular group of people are very humbling and inspirational, and I think we all know someone who tirelessly cares for a loved one at home. In the North West these family carers have been isolated for the majority of the pandemic as Tier 4 restrictions have been in place in between national lockdowns. Initially the sessions started off as me being another point of contact for a general chat and sending basic dance exercise videos made to help their general mobility. Some exercises were filmed outside by the river and with the sounds of nature to help with mindfulness. As I live on a farm, they also loved videos of springtime on the farm with lambs, bluebells and swans. I have been fortunate in the latest lockdown that in one Preston primary school, Highfield Priory, I can teach key workers and vulnerable children whilst the other children access the session
from home. The Head Teacher has been very supportive of the role of dance in the curriculum and has embraced the sessions that I am holding with the carers. The well-being sessions for the carers have developed into a regular weekly event, mainly for the older generation. The sessions usually start with a chat and catch-up and general stretching exercises. The children participate in part of the session by showing their national dances, socially distanced. Many of the carers join in with these dances and often the people for whom they are caring, including dementia patients, join the session and can relate to the music of these traditional dances, which remind them of their childhood, learning country dances at school or Brownies. for example the Pat a Cake Polka, or Virginia Reel . The joy and sense of well-being works both ways. The infant children love chatting to the carers and showing off their skills with the ‘noodles’ in performing their national dances, and the carers look forward to and relish the session as they feel part of an extended family. National dance is an ideal genre to develop well-being due to the creativity of its patterns and inclusive nature. Kulsum Chishti, the Activity Coordinator with Blackburn and Darwen Carers Service, commented: “Last year in March we were struck by this terrible pandemic, and all activities ceased.
As far as carers were concerned, they were already very isolated. The loss of not being able to carry out the activities that stimulated their loved ones was a huge blow, and so many people with serious conditions declined. Heather offered some relief, in the form of some lovely videos taken on her farm that showed natural life was still beautiful and carrying on, the exercise videos kept everyone going and now we have a group that is going to engage further with the farm and Heather’s exercises, giving people some time to connect and improve their well-being. This will keep us going until the day we can meet.”
National dance is an ideal genre to develop wellbeing due to the creativity of its patterns and inclusive nature Dance | Issue 492 81
Sequence Dance Being inventive in lockdown Louise Sampson, Society Fellow and committee member reports on the benefits of online inventive competitions.
When I am not teaching dance, it is fair to say that, living alone, I enjoy my own company and generally socialise only on a one-to-one basis. Definitely a complete contrast to the daily running of a dance school in the UK and travelling monthly to Europe as a freelance teacher. So you might think that my life outside of dancesport would equip me well for the restrictions to which we all have been subjected now for so long! However, after the initial novelty of home spring cleaning and decluttering wore off, it became clear to me that my state of general well-being, both mental and physical, was suffering. At the start of last year, I was looking forward to the exciting times to come. In May, I was due to be teaching at the LGBTQI+ Gaunts House Dance Break and hosting my own Dance Weekend in Torquay. Both events would challenge me to create new choreography that had to be both interesting and adaptable for all of my audience’s abilities. And much of my day-to-day teaching would be geared towards training and assisting new professionals in modern ballroom, Latin American and classical sequence. Theory,
related chart books and enthusiasm would always be to hand. Everything was looking rosy. Or so I thought… but I had not reckoned on lockdown! So, with theory lessons and group work on hold, my brain and feet gradually became more frustrated. The overwhelming questions I was asking myself were when and how my work would return? Or would it even be gone forever? I was worrying not so much from a financial point of view but for my own well-being, sense of purpose and fulfilment. Where was the light at the end of the tunnel? The answer, as it turned out, came out of the blue when committee member Robert Aldred made a passing comment to me during an on-line faculty meeting. “The British Dance Council has decided to replace their usual live annual Inventive Competition for professionals with an online event,” he said. The light bulb suddenly switched on! Here was the perfect way for me to combine the work I was missing. The usual format for inventive competitions challenges Society members to present with a partner original 16-bar dances for classical, modern ballroom and Latin American sequence genres that they have choreographed. And now, for the first time, the inventive format and the
restrictions to normal life combined to present an opportunity for individuals to enter and have an assigned professional couple from the same household with their own studio to demonstrate the 16bar sequence on their behalf. Covering all three genres, I was able to develop 16-bar dance scripts detailing time signature, foot positions and alignment, amounts of turn, footwork and so on. I decided my three entries would consist of a Two Step, Slow Foxtrot and Cha Cha Cha. First, I set about the choreography, working on patterns of steps thinking how best to work on figures and variations that would appeal to a wide audience. So, my back garden soon became my planning studio, much to my new neighbours’ amusement and entertainment. It proved to be a great space to map everything out and in such glorious weather, too. Lots of fresh air and sunshine, ideal for the wellbeing of both mind and body. My new neighbours and I hadn’t had a chance to meet properly before lockdown so the distinct Foxtrot tunes and jaunty Two Steps soon had them peeking over the fence. It transpired the elderly gentleman had taken lessons in classical sequence when he was younger. His experiences became our opening to many good conversations, which afforded me a much-needed opportunity to interact
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Malcolm Hill Head of Faculty Development for Latin American, Ballroom, Sequence firstname.lastname@example.org
Above Louise Sampson's outdoor planning area (back garden)
with someone else at a difficult time. The next challenge was to write the detailed scripts in both roles. A task that I enjoyed fully, as I was able to work on all areas of technique and presentation in three different styles of dance. The whole process of scripting, especially without a dance partner, was at the same time challenging and mentally stimulating but ultimately rewarding. I mentioned the on-line competition to my friend and fellow Society member Yvonne Lawson. In the past, she had regularly entered our inventive competitions, so I encouraged (or perhaps more accurately press-ganged) her to enter. In 2014 with Jonathon Reed as partner, she had won the Latin Inventive with ‘Jive 50’. Yvonne was not only missing the creativity of inventive competitions but also the opportunity to dance professionally with a partner. Like me, Yvonne now had the opportunity to fill some missing gaps that lockdown had opened. She too set about entering dances for each category; a Gavotte, a Tango and a Paso Doble. Challenges for Yvonne were creating routines in a 10-foot square lounge space and visualising them for a bigger floor coverage. Yvonne particularly liked the judging procedure. The adjudicators judged all competitors’ dances without
knowing in advance who had devised them. From a psychological perspective, she felt that this judging method was good, as there were not any predetermined expectations on the panel’s part. With the same couple performing all competitors’ entries, this ‘even playing field’ provided quite a boost to our morale. Although I did not produce a winning dance on that occasion, the sense of achievement in producing the work under such unusual and challenging circumstances increased my enthusiasm no end. I am thrilled to say Yvonne won the ballroom section with her dance Quayside Tango and she now has the distinction of ‘doing the double’ – adding an online title to her past traditional competition victory. Yvonne’s success has spurred her on to enter more on-line inventive competitions. She particularly likes the fact she can enter as an individual. And more competitions are accessible to her as there are no travel or time constraints. Having said that, though, she does miss the opportunity to work with and have Jonathon as a dance partner. For me, the whole experience of the online Inventive Competition was positive and lifted the dark clouds of lockdown. It brought together areas of my work that had disappeared because
Above Society member Yvonne Lawson in her lounge
of the restrictions and let me challenge myself with familiar work but in a new and fulfilling way. Yvonne and I both hope that in future both on-line and live inventive competitions will take place. The Society’s Sequence Faculty annually run their own Inventive Competition. Be sure to visit www.istd. org for details of future competitions and dates. So, be creative and stimulate the little grey cells – challenge yourself to come up with the next winning dance for our Society!
The online Inventive Competition lifted the dark clouds of lockdown Dance | Issue 492 83
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Jason Di Mascio Head of Faculty Development for Tap email@example.com
Although I love my dancing, I have to push myself because it’s hard at the moment. But then the lesson wakes me up and tap makes me feel alive
Tapping into our well-being Registered teacher Kim Rogers looks at how dance can help our pupils’ mental health. Being asked to write an article about the mental well-being of students during this unprecedented time, particularly within the Tap Faculty, gave me such an opportunity to reflect and see all the positives that we have enjoyed over the months. Teaching, as we know, is ever evolving, and yet with the pressures of trying to fit in exam sessions, shows and other events for our students, it can be so easy to get stuck within our comfort zones when it comes to leading our classes. But this past year has expanded my skills and creativity in ways I had never imagined, with virtual tap classes probably being the toughest of them all to conquer due to piecing together the lag of the music to the child’s feet. I initiated a good balance between enhancing students’ technique and syllabus knowledge as well as incorporating free work exploring various styles and music. We also enjoyed quizzes and watching video clips of historical tappers to bring in an essence of fun, too. Once the novelty of our new virtual studio began to settle; I noticed a decline in the students own self-assurance. I sensed that the lack of peer interaction and stimulation left them feeling isolated and deflated, and with growing
concerns for their mental wellbeing, I knew I wanted to ensure I supported them throughout this difficult period. I created many features for use outside of their lessons, such as progress charts and challenges to give them a point of focus, as well as suggesting worry boxes and positivity jars. I had one-to-one video calls with many students to simply talk, giving them the opportunity to express any concerns they may have had. Tap, I discovered was a firm favourite to express and release tangled emotions. Using a variety of steps, we explored colour schemes, animals, and our own volume control to enhance or reduce the sounds, essentially teaching them light and shade, even to our young primary children. Consequently, this not only brought a sense of imagination and fun but helped to release those all-important endorphins to boost their mood. We explored nursery rhymes, so students could choreograph to the rhythm of the words, and played ‘name that tune’, in which their peers had to guess the song they had chosen just by listening or watching their feet. Not wanting to leave anyone out, my Intermediate class also enjoyed this challenge and afterwards, we all sang and clapped Humpty Dumpty together.
The energy had lifted, and I enjoyed seeing everybody laughing and smiling. I asked many students how they felt after their tap class and one of my eight-year-olds said: “Although I love my dancing, I have to push myself because it’s hard at the moment. But then the lesson wakes me up and tap makes me feel alive. The music gets me excited and the sounds of my tap shoes gets me into a rhythm, and I don’t want the class to end, but I get excited for the next one.” It has been a tough time for us all in this industry and whilst lockdown may have kept us from our students in distance, I know we have grown so much closer in spirit.
i Kim Rogers is owner and Principal at PHAD (Pamela Hebberd Academy of Dance) Dance | Issue 492 85
Online CPD May–Aug 2021
What’s on Dates for your diary
8 May 08:30–11:45 Modern Theatre: Introduction to Grade 5 Musical Theatre Progressions & Amalgamations
Wherever possible, we are maintaining our programme of online events, exams and courses in line with government guidelines. The most up-to-date information is on www.istd.org/events
Our events May–Aug 2021 CECCHE T T I CL A SS IC A L BA L L E T Scholars Audition 22 May preliminary auditions 3 July final audition CL A SS IC A L GREEK 27 June Ruby Ginner Awards CL A SS IC A L I NDI A N Bursary Competition 6 May winners announced DISCO FREE S T Y L E ROCK N ROL L 27 June Set Dance Live Online Competition I MPERI A L CL A SS IC A L BA L L E T Solo Performance Awards 20 May bookings close 27 July finalists announced 28 July video shared
7 May 11:00–12:30 Prepare to Train with Safe in Dance International (SIDI)
MODERN BA L L ROOM , L AT I N A MERIC A N A ND S EQU ENCE July Masterclasses Look out for information online about these and the upcoming Autumn Masterclasses (See page 14) MODERN T HE AT RE Creation Online Choreographic Competition 13 June bookings close 16 July winners announced TA P DA NCE Bursary Competition 3 May winners announced
15 May 08:30–11:45 Modern Theatre: Introduction to Grade 4 Musical Theatre Progressions & Amalgamations 18 May 10:00–11:30 Introduction to Safeguarding & Child Protection *Free for members 19 May 10:00–11:30 Appreciating Diversity, Respecting Racial Equality *Free for members 20 May 11:00–12:30 Dance Business Development: Systems – Creating the Processes and Systems for Freedom 22 May 08:30–11:45 Cecchetti Ballet: Standard 2 & 3 (In Italian) 23 May 08:30–11:45 Cecchetti Ballet: Standard 5 & 6 (In Italian)
24 May 16:30–17:30 Membership Matters – Monthly Talks with Guest Speaker: Parable Dance *Free for members 27 May 10:00–11:00 Safeguarding: Policy Writing 30 May 08:30–11:45 Modern Theatre: Introduction to Grade 6 Musical Theatre Progressions & Amalgamations 03 Jun 10:00–11:00 Safeguarding: How to Handle Disclosures 10 Jun 10:00–11:00 Safeguarding: Internal and External Recording Processes 12 Jun 08:30–11:45 Modern Theatre: Revise and Regenerate for Intermediate Modern Free Music – Part 1 13 Jun 08:30–11:45 Modern Theatre: Revise and Regenerate for Intermediate Modern Free Music – Part 2 12 Jul–13 Aug 08:00–22:00 Online Summer School 16 Jul 11:00–12:30 Keep Dancing Safely – Health and Safety Requirements for the Dance Teacher delivered by SiDI, linking to the DfE Code of Practice *Free for members Left Join ISTD Patron Adam Cooper at Sadler’s Wells this summer for the live production of Singin’ in the Rain
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What’s on in the industry Here we share a round-up of industry events to consider. Most performances are subject to restrictions or closures at the time of writing. Check online for updates. J UN E 1–5 Cruelty. Heartbreak. Deceit. With a stripped-back set and full costume, the story behind this intimate performance of Dangerous Liaisons has been an audience favourite for nearly 200 years. Set in 18th century France and with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia, prepare to immerse yourself in some Northern Ballet scandal. The Lowry, Salford, UK. Ages 12+. https://northernballet.com/dangerous-liaisons 9–30 In fair Opera National de Paris, where we lay our scene, the explosive Romeo and Juliet comes to the stage adorned in exquisite costumes and surrounded by stunning scenery by Ezio Frigerio by Mauro Pagano. Initially created for the Opera Ballet in 1984, you won’t want to miss out on Rudolf Nureyev’s dramatisation of the Shakespeare classic. Visit Opera Bastille in the 12th arrondissement in Paris, France. www.operadeparis.fr/en/season-20-21/ballet/romeo-and-juliet 26 Running since April, Do Your Thing is a dance class for disabled and non-disabled people. Explore contemporary dance choreography whilst getting to know how to communicate with movement. Classes are an hour in length and hosted by Dundee Rep Theatre, Scotland, UK, until the end of June. Ages 12+. www.dundeerep.co.uk/event/do-your-thing-summer-21
J ULY 30 Join ISTD Patron Adam Cooper (pictured above) in the West End this summer for the live production of Singin’ in the Rain. With Simon Siglett’s set design – 14,000 litres of water are used on stage every night – and Andrew Wright’s high-octane choreography, this event is going to cause quite the splash. Celebrate one of the world’s most-loved films and make the most of a summer singalong, whether it’s a rainy day or not. Until 6 September. Sader’s Wells, London, UK www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2021/singin-in-the-rain
AUGUS T 30 A celebration of arts, history and culture, from 30 August, Florence will be hosting the 31st edition of the Florence Dance Festival this year. Running since 1990, the event promotes dance by celebrating avant-garde choreography and acting as a platform for international shows and professional training. For dance lovers of all ages. Tuscany, Florence, until 16 September. www.italybyevents.com/en/events/ tuscany/florence-dance-festival 27 Running until 11 September, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival is a yearly outdoor celebration of community. Don’t miss ground-breaking outdoor performing arts with open-air theatre, dance and art installations. Suitable for all ages, so why not get a group together and enjoy some socially-distanced fun. Royal Greenwich and east London, UK. https://festival.org/gdif/whatson S EP T EMB ER 27 Are you a lover of musicals? The rescheduled Strictly Ballroom UK and Ireland Tour will now be making its way through the UK into 2022 from 27 September. With over 20 word-class performers and an abundance of sequins, singing and salsa, tickets will move fast for this Baz Luhrmann spectacular. Check the website for dates near you. https://britishtheatre.com/ strictly-ballroom-uk-ireland-tour-baz-luhrmanns-hit-musical A LWAYS ONL I NE Acclaimed choreographer Cathy Marston used the 2020 summer lockdown to create art for herself, performing for the first time in 15 years in this spectacular short film. Filmed in Switzerland by the River Aare, Marston embraces her surroundings and intertwines choreography with the great outdoors. The score was composed by Philip Feeney, a regular collaborator. Escape yourself and get lost in this meditative work. Watch time: Approx 7 mins https://bit.ly/DriftDance 64 Variations. Featuring Lawrence Power on viola, dancer Sharia Johnson, and soprano Héloïse Werner, we were bowled over by this stunning live performance film of Bach’s epic Chaconne. 64 Variations is described as an “exploration of light, time, companionship and solitude.” Shot at Bargehouse, a warehouse space in London’s Southbank and free to watch online. Don’t miss it. Directed by visual artist Jessie Rodger and recorded by sound engineer Brett Cox. Watch time: Approx. 14 min www.ameproductions.org Blues Suite is the ballet that launched the sensational Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. Just the sixth ballet that Ailey choreographed, the piece is often documented as his ‘first masterpiece’. Free to watch, it’s also worth visiting the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater website for a world of inspirational dance content. Watch time: Approx.30 min http://bit.ly/BluesSuite
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What’s trending online
Join the conversation on social media
Bringing you the most recent highlights from our social media over the last few months. To join the conversation, follow our channels for more information, inspiration and insights. @istddance #TeachDance
Examinations and preparing to return to studios As the pandemic continues and restrictions in the UK ease slightly at the time of going to press, we are all looking forward to getting back in the studio and continue preparing for exams. Take part in the conversation and tag us in all your photos and videos. @istddance #ISTDdance #TeachDance
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion The Society is working hard on implementing real change on our journey to become a fully inclusive organisation. We have been running numerous think tanks to better understand the challenges ahead and are fortunate to be working with an inspiring range of individuals as we move forward.
Learn more at www.istd. org/dance/istd-challenge
Learning from the best Here at the Society we have a long list of alumni who are excelling in the world of dance, theatre and the performing arts. In our last issue of Dance, we spoke to West End superstar Leyton Williams. In April, Strictly Come Dancing stars Neil Jones and Shirley Ballas lead our masterclasses. Keep checking our pages for industry news and insightful updates from the best in the business.
Inspirational Spaces to Dance Challenge At the beginning of 2021 we introduced the Inspirational Spaces to Dance Challenge, a unique way to get creative and showcase individual style whilst utilising the spaces around us. The first of our creative tasks, Dance Inside, was launched at the beginning of the year. Task B, Dance Outside, is now open for entries, giving you even more ways to dance, make, and create.
Don’t miss our interview with The Royal Ballet’s Marcelino Sambé on page 10.
CPD courses, events, and more We have loved seeing so many you from all over the globe join us for our online continued professional development courses and enjoyed a hugely successful Spring Programme in March. This year, we have introduced new non-syllabus courses and webinars for you that occur each month. Keep an eye on our website for more learning opportunities.
International Women’s Day The 8 March was International Women’s Day, which also fell within Women’s History Month. In celebration we have been placing the spotlight onto a few of the influential and inspiring women in dance, such as our Life President Dame Beryl Grey. Who inspires you? Check out the highlight on our Instagram feed for more about female leaders in dance.
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Issue 492 • May – August 2021
F E AT U R I N G
Being a pro in a pandemic MAY – AUGUST 2021 ISSUE 492
We speak to our alumnus Marcelino Sambé, Principal at The Royal Ballet
Inspiring teachers The incredible contribution members have made to lockdown-learning