I am a UK-based educator and dance scientist, living in Ipswich. I have a full-time portfolio career. From 2014-2017 I was Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) Manager at DanceEast, focussing on developing and ensuring rigorous practices for young dancers undertaking pre-vocational training. I’ve also worked as Programme Co-ordinator (Maternity Cover) of the MSc Dance Science programme at TrinityLaban, and Lecturer in Dance on the BA and MSc programmes there. I now am Module Leader for the MSc and MFA Dance Science Embodied and Applied Practices module, leading the curriculum in somatic education and the application of embodiment studies within a dance science framework. I also teach on the Whole Dancer Study module and supervise MSc and MFA students in their theses. I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate projects at London Contemporary Dance School and Bird College. These roles demand that I work alongside colleagues to centralise the dancers’ health within the work that they do, constantly evaluating and monitoring practice in light of the healthier dancer agenda and actively contributing to research and practice to further knowledge and expertise within the sector. I am really keen to help dancers and students to feel empowered and autonomous in the work they do, to take responsibility for their bodies and learning as active agents in a lifelong learning context. In this way, I consult on curriculum development and change for a range of organisations, this year facilitating the DanceEast CAT team in re-developing and updating the dance health provision for children and young people aged between 10 and 18 years. I also work with Stuart Waters on his project Rockbottom, a dance theatre project aimed at safeguarding the emotional health of dancers within the creative process.
I work as a consultant evaluator and researcher for various organisations and you can see reports on my dance and health research page. These have included for dancedigital, Dance Up (formerly Hampshire Dance) and Dance Network Association amongst others. Recently, Dance Network Association published our findings of three Family Dance programmes across Essex, examining the role that dance can play in the social inclusion of early years’ participants and their families. These reports can be found on my research page and a new film is forthcoming very soon. In 2018, I am working with University of Bedfordshire to research the values, attributes and attitudes of dance educators working in disabled dance talent contexts – an Erasmus+ project in conjunction with Stopgap Dance Company. I am also evaluating a large-scale participation project led by East London Dance, Hofesh Dance Company, Historic Royal Palaces and Lift Festival entitled East Wall. East Wall will be performed in July at the Tower of London, the next large-scale performance installation in the moat since the poppied in 2016. I chair the Dance Educators’ Committee for the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and also sit on the Expert Panel for Children and Young People for One Dance UK.
Until September 2012, I worked as Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Dance in the Community degree programme at University Campus Suffolk, repositioning provision within the wider context of arts practice at the University and leading a curriculum review process to realign the aims and objectives of the course, streamline modules and enhance the quality of teaching and learning at undergraduate level. I taught modules in contemporary dance technique, fitness and conditioning, pedagogy, research methods, experiential and applied anatomy and somatics, professional practice, dissertation and study skills. Prior to this I was Lecturer in Dance at the University of Bedfordshire, leading modules in Dance Leadership and Entrepreneurship, as well as delivering fitness and dance science-focussed technique classes at undergraduate level. I convened the 1st International Congress in Dance and Health at the University in June 2011 and wrote a new MSc in Dance Science for the institution. I have devised and delivered numerous professional development courses including the Safe and Effective Dance Practice course at DanceEast and the Community Dance Leaders course for Norfolk Dance and am now a Reviewer for Safe in Dance International, seeing the work of practitioners from across the world, in varying genres and contexts. I also lead theory-and practice-based workshops with undergraduate students and professional artists which focus on the application of dance teaching within a public health context which focus on definitions of health; leading sessions with different client groups taking into account the health of particular participants; developing awareness of public health policies and how dance can intersect with these; and devising methodologies to evaluate the impact of dance projects on physical and psychology health and wellbeing. I have worked in the community, education and professional dance sectors since 1994, including for Norfolk Dance (as Senior Dance Artist), Creative Partnerships, DanceEast, dancedigital, The Royal Ballet and The Birmingham Royal Ballet Education Departments.
I am especially interested in positive psychology in dance training and performance, particularly exploring the relationship of flow theory to teaching, learning and physical expertise. This includes undertaking practical research into the application of flow in teaching and learning, examining the impact of flow on participants’ confidence and risk-taking in Contact Improvisation (presented at national and international conferences – IADMS 2012, Singapore; Higher Education Academy 2013, Brighton), and working with the Crystal Palace Dive Team to examine the relationship of their elite performance and being in the zone. I led a pilot research project at London Contemporary Dance School with Sasha Roubicek in 2013 which aimed to explore the presence of positive psychology practices in dance technique class and identify the characteristics of teachers’ interventions and strategies used in nurturing the development of optimal learning and performance within the context of dance skill acquisition at a vocational level.
During 2013, I worked with Film and Video Umbrella, English National Ballet, London Broncos and Akademi on various dance health and research projects. I have also published findings regarding children’s participation in creative dance and its impact on physiological health and psychological wellbeing for Youth Dance England/ East Youth Dance, and have published findings relating to the role of flow in the teaching and learning, and risk taking associated with Contact Improvisation (Journal of Dance and Somatic Practice, 2014).
In 2008, I gained an MSc with Distinction in Dance Science from TrinityLaban and am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, receiving a distinction in the Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice from the University of Bedfordshire in 2011.