Aloha to all!
Erin Sanchez is our guest contributor for the article below, and we are so pleased to post the information she has to offer. Erin is one of the strong voices in the current younger generation of dance medicine and science (DM&S) leaders. A US dancer who received her undergraduate degree in dance at the University of New Mexico, she then went to London to pursue her MsC in Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has remained in the UK, and currently is the Healthier Dancer Programme Manager at One Dance UK, and is also affiliated with the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS). It has been my pleasure to get to know her, and her work, over the last five years.
The UK has become a leader in the dance medicine field internationally, and organizations such as One Dance UK and NIDMS have greatly advanced the efforts to bring DM&S information to the nationwide dance community. I know you will enjoy reading what they have accomplished in a relatively short amount of time…….Pass it on!!
(And a side note — you may see a few unfamiliar spellings of familiar words — that is British English, a slightly different version than what we use here in the US !)
Jan Dunn, MS – Dance Wellness Editor
by Erin Sanchez, MSc
One Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme and the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science
What is the Healthier Dancer Programme?
The Healthier Dancer Programme (HDP) was launched by One Dance UK in 1993 and is dedicated to improving the performance and physical and psychological health and wellbeing of dancers. We connect with dancers, teachers, choreographers, directors, administrators, healthcare practitioners (both medical and complimentary therapists), fitness professionals, researchers, academics, policy makers, (and anyone else who will listen!) in order to encourage open dialogue and collaborative working.
The National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science and a brief history of the HDP
The Healthier Dancer Programme is a part of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS). NIDMS was launched in 2012, and works to provide three key resources for the dance sector in the UK:
- Affordable access for all dancers to high quality, evidence-based, dance-specific health care and dance science support services.
- Research in dance to provide an evidence base for training, rehabilitation and healthcare in dance.
- Education for dance, healthcare and research professionals.
NIDMS has successfully opened three free dance injury clinics within the UK’s National Health Service in London, Birmingham, and Bath. Research undertaken by NIDMS partners ranges across many subject areas including psychology, talent development, physiology, biomechanics, and strength and conditioning.
NIDMS is a consortium of seven partners: The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, One Dance UK, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, University of Birmingham, and University of Wolverhampton. It was conceived by Helen Laws, who began her work with One Dance UK’s HDP in 1997. Helen undertook the second national enquiry into dancers’ health and injury in the UK, and published the findings in Fit to Dance 2. Based on the findings regarding the rates and causes of injury and access to injury care, she then began a programme of educational ‘road shows,’ information sheets and books, all aimed at providing information for professional and student dancers and teachers which could hopefully reduce preventable injuries. Helen also initiated an online listing of qualified, dance-specific healthcare practitioners across the UK, our Healthcare Practitioners Directory.
Advisory groups of expert medical practitioners and physiotherapists working in dance companies and professional training programmes were assembled to inform the work of the HDP, and now form our Dance Medicine and Science Expert Panel. Partnerships were developed with dance teacher training organisations, medical and research institutions, and dance companies and schools, to help disseminate key research in dance medicine and science.
However, during this time the lack of affordable options for dance-specific health services became more and more obvious. Ms. Laws began fundraising for NIDMS in response to this need in 2007. Since 2012, NIDMS has successfully opened three free dance injury clinics within the UK’s National Health Service in London, Birmingham, and Bath. Research underpinning both training and healthcare undertaken by NIDMS partners ranges across many subject areas including psychology, talent development, physiology, biomechanics, and strength and conditioning.
Key moments in the development of the HDP
The HDP has become the education and dance sector advocacy arm of NIDMS’ work. Specifically, the HDP provides dissemination of advice and information, delivery of workshops, and talks and conferences aimed at those working in the training and professional dance sector. Our work exists solely to educate and empower dancers and those working with dancers at every level. Further education work is carried out in partnership with Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance (London), and the Universities of Wolverhampton and Birmingham, who provide master’s and PhD level studies in dance science.
The current team in the HDP is overseen by Helen Laws, the Head of Industry and Artist Support / NIDMS, and includes 3 team members: Claire Farmer and Stephanie De’ath, who are the Managers of NIDMS, and Erin Sanchez, the Manager of the Healthier Dancer Programme. There are also two emeritus team members, Dr Sarah Needham-Beck, who has just moved on to pursue a new position as a Research Fellow in the Occupational Performance Research Group at the University of Chichester, and Niamh Morrin, who is currently undertaking her PhD at Bucks New University.
Resources and information
NIDMS provides clinical care and strengthens the evidence base of dance medicine and science through research activities, as well as by taking a leadership role on postgraduate education in dance science. Dancers in the UK can access specialist dance injury clinics, which are entirely free, and provide for dancers’ medical needs throughout their injuries – this includes physiotherapy, MRI and bone scans and surgery, if necessary. NIDMS also provides preventative musculoskeletal and fitness screening and a health cash plan that provides up to £800 of injury care treatments, dental and optical cover, and GP, medical, counselling and legal helplines. Details on these services are available here.
One of the key activities of the HDP is Healthier Dancer Talks. These are educational workshops delivered to professional dancers, students, teachers and artistic and support professionals, and cover a broad range of topics – for example:
- Nutrition and hydration
- Psychology of injury
- Dance specific conditioning
- Interval and circuit training
- Safe dance practice for teachers
In particular, the HDP has partnered with Safe in Dance International (SIDI) as a Registered Provider of courses leading to their Certificates for dancers and dance leaders. In addition, they have partnered with the University of Birmingham to provide training in developing healthy motivational climates, through the Empowering Dance training. To learn more about all our talks, visit this page.
Healthier Dancer Conferences
Another of our focused activities is an annual conference on a particular topic in dancers’ health. Our healthier dancer conferences are filmed and highlights, clips, interviews, and more are available via our YouTube channel. Our next conference in November 2017 will be a part of a conference season; 3 conferences, 2 days, 1 venue, and will feature specialist days for teachers, choreographers and health. The focus will be on mental health and the psychological and social aspects of injury.
Erin Sanchez is the Healthier Dancer Programme Manager at One Dance UK in London, and with her colleagues within the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, organises dance science and medicine focused conferences and workshops for dance professional and students, as well as researchers and healthcare practitioners; advocates to government, employers and stakeholders in the dance sector; and develops resources to support dancers’ knowledge of physical and psychological strategies for health, wellbeing and performance enhancement.
Erin’s main interests in dance medicine and science are psychology, talent development and mental health. She pursued a BA (Hons) in Dance and Sociology from the University of New Mexico while training as a dancer. She moved from the US to the UK in 2009 to pursue an MSc in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.
She is a registered provider for Safe in Dance International (www.safeindance.com), a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (www.iadms.org), and holds the qualification in Safe and Effective Dance Practice. She also manages the Dance Psychology Network.