Cultivating self-care: Nurturing tips for dance teachers

by Elsa Urmston  MSc PGCAP FHEA

The last year has been challenging for us all, as we navigate our dancing lives amidst a global pandemic, in a context which has seen huge political, economic and social upheaval during an ever-more startling climate crisis. Many of us have adapted to new ways of working, keeping dancing by through teaching online and dancing face-to-face when circumstances allow and finding creative solutions to ensure that people attending classes can do so safely, inclusively and socially.  Dance teachers’ agile responses have been nothing less than inspiring.  Whilst we are living through a period of immense change which may have been refreshing perhaps, it has no doubt tested our reserves of innovation, empathy, perseverance and resilience.
With such a backdrop, as teachers, we often find ourselves making sure everyone else is OK. But how often do we find time for ourselves?  For professionals, where caring for other people’s wellbeing is key to what we do, self-care becomes an essential tool (Cardinal and Thomas, 2016).  Endless websites and books promote self-care strategies, often responding to a deficit model of health and wellbeing which seeks to address people’s weaknesses.  Positive psychology takes a different perspective and is the focus of this blog post on the positive events and influences in our lives as tools to help us to flourish, especially in times like these.

What is positive psychology?
Positive psychology is a growing scientific field focussing on human thoughts, feelings and behaviour and describes the value of our subjective experiences: “wellbeing,
contentment and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimism (in the future); and flow and happiness (in the present)” (Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman, 2000, p. 5).

Research in positive psychology
Research suggests that one of the most significant outcomes of practising positive psychology lies in making small changes to our perspective on things, by including optimism and gratitude in our lives (Carr et al., 2020).  That’s not to say that we should ignore our negative experiences – balance is vital.  Seligman (2012) proposed five dimensions of wellbeing called the PERMA model:

  • Positive emotion emphasises optimism, viewing experiences from a constructive perspective, particularly when our enjoyment is an outcome from tasks which we find stimulating or creative and we feel satisfied by our completion of those tasks.
  • Engagement is a state when we are fully engaged and immersed in activities for their own sake.
  • Relationships are crucial components of our basic psychological needs (Ryan and Deci, 2000).
  • Meaning refers to building a sense of purpose, particularly in contributing to others’ lives and communities.
  • Achievement refers to how much we challenge ourselves positively and how this helps us develop our strengths in practical and emotional ways.

What does this mean for self-care?
Self-care can mean different things for different people; taking care of things like eating well, exercising and resting is vital.  Bush (2015) emphasises the importance of micro self-care, things we do which fit easily into our lives, are not costly and bring about positive changes in thinking and outlook.

Micro self-care strategies to try

  • Stay connected: staying connected with friends, family and colleagues is always needed.  It’s a matter of prioritising this as part of our self-care routine.  Carving out opportunities by fixing time in the diary to meet others, helps build connections.
  • Three good things: By making a small effort to focus on the good things, research suggests that wellbeing and mental health can improve (Rippstein-Leuenberger et al., 2017).  The aim is to pause and notice something good and build this into a habit.  These things might be as simple as the sun shining or a delicious lunch, achieving a new skill or seeing improvement in something we have been working really hard on.  By aiming to pause and notice in the moment and reflecting on the good things, we can overcome a preoccupation with things that seem to have made the day worse.
  • Practising gratitude: Research suggests that focussing on what we are thankful for has a significant and positive impact on our wellbeing, for ourselves and those around us (Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman, 2000).  Starting a gratitude practice does not have to be a huge undertaking and small activities are a great way to begin.  For example, start the day by thinking about something to be thankful for, for that day – sleeping well, speaking with a colleague or taking a class which inspires us.
  • Developing mindfulness: Teaching is increasingly viewed as being particularly stressful (Lomas et al., 2017).  However, recent studies suggest that mindfulness has a positive impact on teachers’ mental health, both in normal circumstances and during the COVID-19 pandemic (Matiz et al., 2020; Emerson et al., 2017).  The idea of mindfulness is to focus on the present moment, bringing control over situations and finding ways to cope.

Slowing down and focussing on the breath is a tangible way to focus on the present moment; calming the physiological system and helping psychologically too (Hopper et al., 2019).  Ways to focus on breathing include simply bringing attention to breathing in and out, deepening the breath or practising the three-part breath that comes from yoga practice.  Our friends at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) have this great blog post about breath and ways it can be incorporated into teachers’ daily work as a way to reset.

A focus on breathing is one way in, but it is possible to engage in any task more mindfully. Focussing on one thing at a time, noticing the sensorial experience in the present moment can bring a self-care emphasis to our actions and not requiring any more time than normal.

These approaches give us a few ways to help care for ourselves during this time.  Taking time to focus on our own needs, as much as the people we care about is a vital first step in ensuring we too can continue to flourish.
References
Bush, A.D., 2015. Simple self-care for therapists: Restorative practices to weave through your workday. WW Norton & Company.

Cardinal, B. J. and Thomas, J. D., 2016. Self-care strategies for maximising human potential. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 87(9), 5-7.

Carr, A., Cullen, K., Keeney, C., Canning, C., Mooney, O., Chinseallaigh, E. and O’Dowd, A., 2020. Effectiveness of positive psychology interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, pp.1-21.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. and Seligman, M.E., 2000. Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist55(1), pp.5-14.

Emerson, L.M., Leyland, A., Hudson, K., Rowse, G., Hanley, P. and Hugh-Jones, S., 2017. Teaching mindfulness to teachers: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. Mindfulness8(5), pp.1136-1149.

Hopper, S.I., Murray, S.L., Ferrara, L.R. and Singleton, J.K., 2019. Effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing for reducing physiological and psychological stress in adults: a quantitative systematic review. JBI Evidence Synthesis17(9), pp.1855-1876.

Lomas, T., Medina, J.C., Ivtzan, I., Rupprecht, S. and Eiroa-Orosa, F.J., 2017. The impact of mindfulness on the wellbeing and performance of educators: A systematic review of the empirical literature. Teaching and Teacher Education61, pp.132-141.

Matiz, A., Fabbro, F., Paschetto, A., Cantone, D., Paolone, A.R. and Crescentini, C., 2020. Positive impact of mindfulness meditation on mental health of female teachers during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health17(18), p.6450.

Rippstein-Leuenberger, K., Mauthner, O., Sexton, J.B. and Schwendimann, R., 2017. A qualitative analysis of the Three Good Things intervention in healthcare workers. BMJ open7(5), pp.1-6.

Ryan, R.M. and Deci, E.L., 2000. The darker and brighter sides of human existence: Basic psychological needs as a unifying concept. Psychological inquiry11(4), pp.319-338.

Seligman, M.E., 2012. Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.

Elsa Urmston MSc PGCAP FHEA

Elsa is a colleague at Safe in Dance International, working primarily with SiDI as a Quality Reviewer.  She is also currently a freelance researcher at London Contemporary Dance School, exploring the application of periodization to vocational dance education from pedagogical and psychological perspectives.  She is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Exeter, in the UK.  Elsa sits on the Expert Panel for Children and Young People for One Dance UK and was previously Chair of the Dance Educators’ Committee for the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.  Elsa has worked in community dance settings, and mainstream and higher education for over twenty-five years. She has consulted on participatory projects with organisations such as Dance Umbrella, Made by Katie Green, BEEE-Creative, English National Ballet and East London Dance, amongst others and worked at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a Lecturer in Dance Science. Elsa was the Manager of the Centre for Advanced Training at DanceEast from 2014 to 2017.

Cultivating self-care: Nurturing tips for dance teachers, and anyone in dance

FULL  LENGTH VERSION

Written by Elsa Urmston MSc PGCAP FHEA

There is no doubt that the last year or so has been hugely challenging for us all, as we navigate our dancing lives amidst a global pandemic, in a context which has seen huge political, economic and social upheaval during an ever-more startling climate crisis.  So many of us have adapted to new ways of working in this context, responding to the need to keep dancing by shifting our teaching online during periods of lockdown or isolation, dancing face-to-face when circumstances allow and continuing to find creative solutions to ensure that those who usually attend our classes can continue to do so safely, inclusively and socially. The dance teaching profession’s agile responses have been nothing less than inspiring. And whilst there is no doubt that we are all living through a period of immense social, personal and professional change which for many has been refreshing perhaps, it has no doubt tested our reserves of innovation, empathy, perseverance and resilience to the max.

With such a dramatic backdrop, as teachers, we often find ourselves making sure that everyone else is OK. But how often do we find time for ourselves? For professionals like us, where caring for other people’s health, wellbeing and engagement in dance practice is key to what we do, self-care becomes an even more essential tool to be able to keep going (Cardinal and Thomas, 2016). There are endless websites and books promoting self-care strategies, often responding to a deficit model of health and wellbeing which seeks to address a person’s weaknesses. The field of positive psychology takes a different perspective and is the focus of this blog post on the positive events and influences in our lives as tools to help us to flourish, especially in times like these.

What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is a growing scientific field which focuses on studying human thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and describes the value of our subjective experiences: “wellbeing,

contentment and satisfaction (in the past); hope and optimism (in the future); and flow and happiness (in the present)” (Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman, 2000, p. 5). Positive psychology perspectives build on Martin Seligman’s theory of learned helplessness (the idea that when we feel we have lost control over what happens to us, we learn to become helpless). In tackling this, Seligman’s focus shifted from treatment to strategies for preventing learned helplessness, including an emphasis on the positive, uplifting and inspiring aspects of life that can build resilience and perseverance, especially in the face of adversity.

Research in positive psychology

Research in positive psychology suggests that one of the most significant outcomes of practising positive psychology lies in making relatively small changes to our perspective on things, by including optimism and gratitude in our lives (Carr et al., 2020). That’s not to say that we should ignore the negative experiences we have at all – balance is vital. But equal focus on the positives in life can bring about remarkable shifts in wellbeing and quality of life amongst many different kinds of people in many different circumstances (e.g. Salces-Cubero et al., 2019; Kwok and Gu, 2019; Kardas et al., 2019).

What is the PERMA model?

Seligman (2012) proposed five dimensions which constitute the elements of wellbeing from a positive psychology perspective, called the PERMA model; he discusses it in this film, and we briefly summarise the principles below:

The PERMA Model, Seligman, 2012.

  • Positive emotion places an emphasis on optimism, viewing our experiences from a constructive perspective, particularly when our enjoyment is an outcome from tasks which we find stimulating or creative, and we feel satisfied by our completion of those tasks. This type of positive emotion is different from pleasure (which is more connected to satisfying physical needs for survival). It helps us enjoy the daily tasks in life and persevere in the face of challenge because we are able to remain more optimistic about what will happen.
  • Engagement is sometimes described as flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997), a state when we are fully engaged and immersed in activities for their own sake. You can learn more about flow here.
  • Relationships are crucial components of our basic psychological needs (Ryan and Deci, 2000), and for many, it is this dimension of PERMA which has been missing during the pandemic – the opportunity to connect with others is limited as we minimise face-to-face contact with others to protect public health. From a PERMA perspective, positive relationships with others mean we are reciprocally heard, seen and supported, building positive emotions and cementing our sense of self-worth.
  • Meaning refers to building a sense of purpose, particularly in contributing to others’ lives and our wider communities. It includes our values and how authentically we live those values.
  • Achievement is not just about success, but refers to how much we challenge ourselves positively, and how this helps us develop our strengths in practical and emotional ways.

In more recent years, the model has been extended to include health, so you may see this model as PERMAH. The health dimension was added because researchers felt that our overall feelings about physical and emotional health were crucial in understanding the elements of wellbeing (Norrish et al, 2013).

So, what does this all mean for self-care?

Self-care can mean different things for different people and certainly taking care of the big things like eating well, exercising and resting is vital. Bush (2015) also emphasises the importance of micro self-care, the things we can do which are easy to fit into our lives, are not costly, and can cause positive changes in thinking and outlook.

Micro self-care strategies to try

  • Stay connected: without a doubt, staying connected with friends, family and colleagues is much needed now. It’s a matter of prioritising this as part of our self-care routine. Carving out the time is the priority here so fixing a date and time in the diary to reach out to others to help us build connections, is the key.

And there are endless ways to connect. Chatting with friends and family, writing letters to people we might have lost touch with, making a phone call rather than sending an email, saying hello to people in the street, even if we don’t know them (when we are able to safely be out and about, of course), joining online groups that share our interests or reaching out to neighbours to see if they need anything, amongst numerous others.

  • Three good things: Although we are hard-wired to focus on the negative things in life (it’s called negativity bias), by making a small effort to focus on the good things, research suggests that wellbeing and mental health can improve (Rippstein-Leuenberger et al., 2017). The aim is to pause and notice something that is good, and build this into a habit. These things do not need to be big; they might be as simple as the sun is shining or lunch tastes delicious. Equally they might be dance-specific – we’ve achieved a new skill, or can see improvement in something we’ve have been working really hard on. But by aiming to pause and notice in the moment, and then at the end of the day reflecting on the good things, we can overcome a preoccupation with things that seem to have made the day worse. It’s a simple strategy, but it does work.
  • Practising gratitude: Research tells us that focussing on what we are thankful for has a significant and positive impact on our wellbeing, for ourselves and those around us (Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman, 2000). In the context of student learning, expressing gratitude has shown a positive qualitative impact on resilience, contributing towards volitional behaviour, improved ways of coping and inspiring a sense of hope for the future (Mason, 2020).

Starting a gratitude practice does not have to be a huge undertaking and starting with small activities is a great way to begin. For example, starting the day by thinking about a gratitude statement for the day based on something to be thankful to have for that day – we might have slept well, or be looking forward to a nice meal, speaking with a colleague or taking a class which inspires us.

We can extend this gratitude practice to gratitude journaling as confidence in this practice grows too. Gratitude journaling then becomes more of an end-of-the-day activity. We’d recommend buying a nice notebook that motivates you to write in the things, people, events and achievements to be thankful for that day.

  • Developing mindfulness: Teaching is increasingly viewed as being particularly stressful (Lomas et al., 2017). However, recent studies suggest that mindfulness has a positive impact on teachers’ mental health, both in normal circumstances and during the COVID-19 pandemic (Matiz et al., 2020; Emerson et al., 2017). The idea of mindfulness is to focus on the present moment, as a way to bring about control over situations and find ways to cope in adversity. But staying in the moment can be tough when we think about things in the past, worry about past behaviour or feel anxious about the future and what is to come.

Slowing down and focussing on the breath is a really tangible way to bring ourselves into the present moment; it calms the physiological system and can help psychologically too (Hopper et al., 2019). There are lots of ways to focus on breathing, simply by bringing attention to breathing in and out, deepening the breath or practising the three-part breath that comes from yoga practice. Our friends at the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) have this great blog post about the breath and ways it can be incorporated into a dancers’ and teachers’ daily work, particularly as a way to reset.

A focus on breathing is one way in, but it is possible to engage in any tasks more mindfully if we choose. Focussing on one thing at a time, noticing the sensorial experience of that one thing in the present moment can bring a self-care emphasis to our actions in a way that doesn’t require any more time than normal.

 These approaches are one way to help care for ourselves during this time. Taking time to focus on our own needs, as much as the people we care about is a vital first step in ensuring we too can continue to flourish, even in the toughest of times.

Further Reading and References

Bush, A.D., 2015. Simple self-care for therapists: Restorative practices to weave through your workday. WW Norton & Company.

Cardinal, B. J. and Thomas, J. D., 2016. Self-care strategies for maximising human potential. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 87(9), 5-7.

Carr, A., Cullen, K., Keeney, C., Canning, C., Mooney, O., Chinseallaigh, E. and O’Dowd, A., 2020. Effectiveness of positive psychology interventions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Positive Psychology, pp.1-21.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., 1997. Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. Basic Books.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. and Seligman, M.E., 2000. Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist55(1), pp.5-14.

Emerson, L.M., Leyland, A., Hudson, K., Rowse, G., Hanley, P. and Hugh-Jones, S., 2017. Teaching mindfulness to teachers: A systematic review and narrative synthesis. Mindfulness8(5), pp.1136-1149.

Hopper, S.I., Murray, S.L., Ferrara, L.R. and Singleton, J.K., 2019. Effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing for reducing physiological and psychological stress in adults: a quantitative systematic review. JBI Evidence Synthesis17(9), pp.1855-1876.

Kardas, F., Cam, Z., Eskisu, M. and Gelibolu, S., 2019. Gratitude, hope, optimism and life satisfaction as predictors of psychological well-being. Eurasian Journal of Educational Research82, pp.81-99.

Kwok, S.Y. and Gu, M., 2019. Parental suicidal ideation and child depressive symptoms: The roles of optimism and gratitude. Journal of Social Service Research, 46(4), pp.1-10.

Lomas, T., Medina, J.C., Ivtzan, I., Rupprecht, S. and Eiroa-Orosa, F.J., 2017. The impact of mindfulness on the wellbeing and performance of educators: A systematic review of the empirical literature. Teaching and Teacher Education61, pp.132-141.

Mason, H., 2020. Towards a learning mindset: First-year university students’ qualitative perspectives on gratitude in the context of learning effort. Journal of Student Affairs in Africa8(2), 87-104.

Matiz, A., Fabbro, F., Paschetto, A., Cantone, D., Paolone, A.R. and Crescentini, C., 2020. Positive impact of mindfulness meditation on mental health of female teachers during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health17(18), p.6450.

Norrish, J.M., Williams, P., O’Connor, M. and Robinson, J., 2013. An applied framework for positive education. International Journal of Wellbeing3(2), pp.147-161.

Rippstein-Leuenberger, K., Mauthner, O., Sexton, J.B. and Schwendimann, R., 2017. A qualitative analysis of the Three Good Things intervention in healthcare workers. BMJ open7(5), pp.1-6.

Ryan, R.M. and Deci, E.L., 2000. The darker and brighter sides of human existence: Basic psychological needs as a unifying concept. Psychological inquiry11(4), pp.319-338.

Salces-Cubero, I.M., Ramírez-Fernández, E. and Ortega-Martínez, A.R., 2019. Strengths in older adults: Differential effect of savoring, gratitude and optimism on well-being. Aging & mental health23(8), pp.1017-1024.

Seligman, M.E., 2012. Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.

 

Elsa Urmston MSc PGCAP FHEA

Elsa is a colleague at Safe in Dance International, working primarily with SiDI as a Quality Reviewer.  She is also currently a freelance researcher at London Contemporary Dance School, exploring the application of periodization to vocational dance education from pedagogical and psychological perspectives.  She is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Exeter, in the UK.  Elsa sits on the Expert Panel for Children and Young People for One Dance UK and was previously Chair of the Dance Educators’ Committee for the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.  Elsa has worked in community dance settings, and mainstream and higher education for over twenty-five years. She has consulted on participatory projects with organisations such as Dance Umbrella, Made by Katie Green, BEEE-Creative, English National Ballet and East London Dance, amongst others and worked at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance as a Lecturer in Dance Science. Elsa was the Manager of the Centre for Advanced Training at DanceEast from 2014 to 2017.

Returning to the Studio – Useful Guidance from Around the World

The news changes from day to day within every country of the world and we all bounce between lock down and slowly moving back into the studio.  We have colleagues who are back in the studio already as well as some who are planning to go back to teaching soon, or to a blended, on site & online delivery. Of course, the preparation you need to undertake and how you manage your students and teaching when you do return to the dance studio changes, or indeed if you can return at all depends where you are in the world.

Please, always remember, that guidelines, rules and laws will vary depending on where you live in the world, so it is important to follow the recommendations and requirements of your own government /state and use the information below as it is relevant to your own country’s position.

In this newsletter we share with you links to some of the organisations that are providing information about returning to dance and the studio following Covid19 and addressing ways to support your mental health when returning and adapting to the ‘new normal’.  Much of the advice below is common sense and wisdom but most importantly it is information produced by experts in the field of dance teaching, dance and dance science, following their own country specific guidance.

We hope you find it useful.


NIDMS and One Dance UK Weekly Webinars

One Dance UK and NIDMS are running weekly Return to Dance Q&A webinars, co-hosted by the Dance Medicine and Science Expert Panel.The series of webinars are available to catch up on their website and the following topics have been covered:

Webinar 1: Returning to Dance, what you need to know to get back to the studio.
Webinar 2: Preparing to Return to Dance – Risk assessment, legality,
responsibility when hiring a venue, and cleaning.
Webinar 3: Social Distancing in dance, part 1 Fixed groups and bubbles,
indoor exercise, ventilation and face coverings.
Webinar 4: Social Distancing in dance, part 2: Specific dance activities and risk,
class structure, floor work and contact.
Webinar 5: Considerations for vulnerable groups (BAME/BIPOC, Disability)

LINK TO WEBINARS


IADMS: Performing Artist’s Mental Health and Covid-19 – Webinars Series

The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, is offering free weekly webinars on mental health for performing artists, and the multidisciplinary professionals who work in performance science, medicine, education and psychology.
Experts in mental, and performance health and well-being provide insights, practical tips and sage advice for those helping performers and for performing artists themselves.
In the webinar series:
Webinar 1: How is COVID-19 affecting us?
Webinar 2: Why am I feeling this way? And what can I do?
Webinar 3: Stress and Coping
Webinar 4: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, During COVID-19
Webinar 5: Sensitive and Resilient: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Webinar 6: Re-Entry: Navigating the New Normal with COVID-19
Webinar 7: Psychological Readiness: Navigating the New Normal with COVID-19
COMING SOON
Webinar 8: Depression: Dark Night of the Soul
Webinar 9: Loss and Grief

LINK TO WEBINARS


Performance Medicine (Australia)

Performance Medicine are a leading rehabilitation and treatment centre in Australia, catering to the full spectrum within the performing arts industry. They have shared their guidance on returning to dance safely, with four key points in a simple and effective way to apply scientific loading principles and research to your dance studio, so that your dancers can return to dance in a safe and sustainable way:
1. Dance Questionnaire
2. Dance Specific Baseline Profile
3. Check in
4. Graduated approach to dance and training in the studio

Check out their blog post HERE


Healthy Dancer Canada

If you are a dancer in Canada, Healthy Dancer Canada are one of our partners and have a very useful resource page HERE and they have also advised us that Canadian Dance Assembly (CDA) are providing a lot of information for Canadian dancers HERE

Most of the discussions in Quebec, on Zoom and online directly, are happening with the Regroupement Québecois de la Danse, and some information on this can be found HERE


The Dance Docs

The Dance Docs podcast answers questions from the treatment table to help dancers better understand their bodies, and most recently covering topics like Dancing in a Mask, Coping with Covid-19 and Facing the Unknown. This is hosted by Dr. Kat Bower PT and professionals from the dance medicine community.
This podcast is for everyone from health-conscious dancers, teachers, dance medicine professionals, or anyone in between. The Dance Docs want to inspire, educate and fuel your dance journey.

LINK TO EPISODES


We hope you find all of this useful and will help answer some of the questions you have or anxiety about returning to dance and the studio. We are still running the ‘Ask SiDI’ programme so please do send us any questions and we will answer them, or refer you to someone who can.

Stay safe and best wishes
The SiDI Team

#ASKSiDI

#ASKSiDI QUESTION:
I’ve been applying my state’s guidelines for gatherings at gyms…which still allows only one-on-one training. I have a 400 sq ft studio and 8 students plus myself in there. Is it advisable to go back to the studio yet for classes? We do have the option of opening a window. #AskSiDI

ANSWER:
At the moment there is a wide range of different advice being collated around the world. Of course the first thing that anyone needs to do is to follow state or country specific guidance. We are currently collating information including links and resources that we hope will be helpful as many people are asking the same question as you. Of course advice could change rapidly as the virus is unpredictable. Watch out for our post in a short while. Please sign up to our newsletter for up to date information. We will also be linking to some useful dance specific guidance on social media.

Safe in Dance International & IADMS Live Panel Discussion

Safe in Dance International and International Association for Dance Medicine & Science present

Safe Dance Practice in Quarantine:
A live panel conversation for educators, with IADMS and SiDI leaders

on Saturday, April 25th from
17:00-18:30 British Summer Time (BST)

12:00-13:30pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Join us on Facebook LIVE via the Science for Dance Educators page.

Panellists:
Sonia Rafferty, Jen Deckert,
Ellie Kusner and Sutton Anker

If you are a Dance educator of any level or a dancer (student, pre-professional, or professional), you are invited to join, ask questions and listen to the conversation with the international panel.

This discussion is an international collaboration between IADMS and Safe in Dance International leaders on how to dance safely while at home during quarantine.

The Coronavirus epidemic has hit our live dance activities hard, but we have already seen many of you giving up your time to provide online classes to help us maintain our physical and mental health. We recently shared some guidance and key points to bear in mind when teaching online, so that we can all enjoy these activities as safely and productively as possible. We are now inviting you to join a live panel conversation that will be live streamed via the Science for Dance Educators Facebook page.

If you are a dance educator and not a member of this group yet, please request membership before Saturday.

The panel will be made up of IADMS and SiDI representatives:

Ellie Kusner, MSc, IADMS Dance Educators Committee Chair, Pilates and dance instructor, co-host DanceWell Podcast

Jennifer Deckert, MFA, IADMS Board of Directors, Associate Professor of Dance at University South Carolina

Sonia Rafferty, MSc, Safe in Dance International co-founder, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Senior Lecturer

Maggie Morris, MA, Safe in Dance International co-founder, Dance Educator

Sutton Anker, MSc, IADMS Staff, Pilates and dance instructor, SiDI Registered Provider

We really look forward to you all joining us for this live session and can’t wait to answer any questions you may have.

Take care everyone.

The SiDI Team

 

 

Guidance on delivering and participating in dance classes online

This information was written by Sonia Rafferty, SiDI Co-Founder and Charlotte Tomlinson, SiDI Associate.

Our live dance activities have now been hit hard by the Coronavirus epidemic but many of you are giving up your time and energy to provide online classes and even more of us are searching for these classes to help us maintain our physical and mental health.So that we can all enjoy these activities as safely and productively as possible, SiDI has put together some guidance and key points to bear in mind when teaching and participating online:

When teaching

  1. Check your insurance: Before you begin, check with your insurer that you are covered to teach online sessions, whether they be live or pre-recorded.  After your kindness and generosity in doing the sessions it would be heart-breaking for someone to make a claim against you!  It would also be wise to provide a disclaimer so have a look at some online for ideas.  It’s important that you protect yourself as well as those taking part.
  2. Evidence your experience: Make people aware of your credentials. Highlight that you have professional knowledge, skills or background, so that participants can clearly see that you have the appropriate expertise and that they feel they are in safe and experienced hands.
  3. Set up your space: If you’re demonstrating activities for others to follow, set up your home area efficiently. Risk-assess as you would if you were teaching in your normal venue. Although you may not be able to see the participants that you are teaching, you can advise them on what makes a safe environment for them to dance in, even if it’s in their living room, and set a good example of this yourself in your own space. People Dancing (UK) have some helpful further advice on this (see link below).
  4. Adapt your content: Be aware of the limitations that people will have have when dancing in what is likely to be a small space. Modify the content and material to take this into account.
  5. Provide options for different ability levels: Make sure that your potential participants understand the level of your class and how to respond to your instruction. Provide alternatives for different levels of ability and explain these clearly.
  6. Warm up and Cool Down: Just as you should in all dance sessions, prepare with a gradual warm up (pulse raiser, joint mobilisation, dynamic stretches and dance style specific movements) that leads into and prepares for the main content of your class. Afterwards, include a gradual cool down (pulse reducer and easing out the joints) and static stretches.
  7. Don’t do too much: Try not to do too much or cram everything into one session. When teaching live classes (those that are synchronous/rely on people imitating you within the same time frame), avoid rushing your warm-up or forgetting your cool-down. Consider if the pace is appropriate for the context – your class should progress gradually and include some recovery periods. In any class, indicate the importance of rest periods and water breaks.
When participating:
  1. Make your space safe:  Check your space by doing your own mini risk assessment (see People Dancing link below).  For example, make sure that you have enough room around you and clear the working/dancing area as much as possible (ballet barre in the kitchen anyone?).  If you’re dancing on a hard floor, wear cushioned shoes.  Roll up the rug to avoid slipping.  Make sure any wires (from your computer or home appliances for example) are kept out of your way.
  2. Choose reliable teachers:  When choosing from the huge number of tutorials on offer, look out for details of the teacher’s expertise and background.  Choose activities that you feel comfortable with and instructors that have a reputation and a weight of knowledge behind them.  Don’t be tempted with classes that have leaders with unrealistic expectations and check that they offer different options for different levels of ability.  Otherwise, tailor the level of the class to your own needs.
  3. Warm up and cool down:  If the class teacher hasn’t included a warm-up, then do your own first.  The same goes for a cool-down afterwards (see link below for further information).
  4. Don’t do more than you are able:  Don’t push yourself too hard, beyond your usual skill or ability level.  Take time for recovery within the session and between sessions.
  5. Familiarise yourself with injury management (PRICED):  In the unfortunate event of an injury occurring when dancing in your own home and there may be limited access or contact with therapists, be as familiar as you can with the recommendations for self injury management (see link to “PRICED” below).

Online dance activities will not only help us to stay dance ready, fit and active, but will also help us to remain connected to each other and support our mental and psychological health.  The Coronavirus has caused fear, worry and anxiety for us personally and for our profession so many thanks to all of you who have created access to these free, good quality online classes to keep us dancing.

Take care everyone.

The SiDI Team
Sonia Rafferty, SiDI Co-Founder and Charlotte Tomlinson, SiDI Associate

Further resources

Risk assessment for virtual classes and sessions, People Dancing:  https://bit.ly/2yio6Rk
Warm up and Cool Down, IADMS: https://bit.ly/39smQIo
Information on PRICED Protocols, IADMS:  https://bit.ly/341BMMi



 

NEWSLETTER MARCH 2020

Dear friends and colleagues around the world

At this time when so much in our lives is changing and we are all experiencing a new world existence, we at SiDI send you our love and thoughts.

The threat of transmitting the Covid-19 virus is increasing daily worldwide. The governments of individual countries are providing direction on how to minimise the likelihood of infection and all independent dance schools, training institutions, teachers, choreographers, managers and dancers have been familiarising themselves with the general guidelines and trying to stay abreast of the public health announcements in their own locations.  For most of us, live dance activities have already been reduced or stopped, with many consequences for training and employment.

We have heard from some of our colleagues around the world and it’s become clear that whilst some countries have national dance and arts organisations who are providing excellent recommendations at this time, such advice is not available everywhere.  We’ve included some valuable links to our partners below, along with messages from other national and international dance and arts organisations, all of whom are releasing information to support dance practitioners. Please do keep checking these websites for further advice, which is continually being updated.  We’ve also added links to some interesting articles.

Online dance classes: “I used to dance around my living room…” (A Chorus Line)

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen a sharp rise in the provision of classes online and this is only going to increase. SiDI has developed some thoughts and guidance regarding dancing and teaching in this way, which we’ll share through our newsletter and social media platforms in the next few days, so please look out for these.

Stay well everyone.

Maggie, Sonia, Matthew, Pippa and all The SiDI Team

 

 

Useful Websites and Guidance about Covid-19

Dance Related

International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS):
https://bit.ly/3blwuOr

Healthy Dancer Canada circulating this advice:
http://bit.ly/2TUf31r

Council For Dance Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT):
https://bit.ly/2xeT4JG

One Dance UK:
https://bit.ly/2UrQWGz

People Dancing:
http://bit.ly/3d0ybCh

Other Dance Resources:

Dance Magazine:
http://bit.ly/3aTvSiw

Dance USA:
http://bit.ly/2IOdr2T

General

World Health Organisation: 
http://bit.ly/2x1r6kI

Centres for Disease Control and Protection: 
http://bit.ly/38WQWmR

#TopTipTuesday

Rest…

Are you over pressured by exams, rehearsals and performances? trying to get the best out of yourself or your dancers?  Remember it is important to rest as well as work hard –

There is often pressure to do as much as we can to become more proficient dancers but more is not always better. Are you aware of the difference between overload and overtraining or overwork? Overload is a positive training principle, which means gradually challenging the dancer so that they can develop the physical capacities to dance efficiently and effectively. Overwork or overtraining is a negative consequence of training schedules that are too full and demanding, coupled with lack of rest and recovery. It will actually result in the dancer’s performance becoming less effective. Yes, work hard but rest too!

Audition and Performance Anxiety

The first three months of the year can mean only one thing for dance students, auditions for summer intensives, for stage shows, dance projects and for small and large dance companies.  Every weekend of last month and the coming two months are packed with auditions.  I wonder how many dancers, including you have packed in as many auditions over the past weekends as is humanly, or even beyond humanly possible?

Why do we do this? Fear of losing out?  Fear of not getting to the Summer Intensive, company or show that’s favourite? Fear of not going where other dancing friends are going? Fear of failure? Fear of rejection? Fear, fear, fear.

Fear is the operative word here and because many of the situations we find ourselves in are not actually life threatening it can be useful to remember this phrase:

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

Anxiety is linked with fear and is part of the ‘Fight and Flight’ system that helps us deal with dangerous situations it’s linked with our most ancient survival instincts.

Anxiety increases your awareness to enable you to be prepared for the unknown, making you hyper-alert and focused.  Adrenalin floods into your system to help you run or fight, your heart pounds, you feel agitated and your stomach’s filled with butterflies.  This is, in general terms, how anxiety affects us although we all respond in different ways.

Remember, anxiety isn’t always detrimental, apprehension and excitement have their roots in the adrenaline rush.

If you’ve grown up with an anxious family background, you’re more likely to be susceptible to situational or even chronic anxiety.  Situational anxiety is based only on a single event, even if that situation reoccurs occasionally. Chronic anxiety will have been constant for more than 6 months, it seriously interferes with a person’s life.  Situational anxiety can become chronic if not dealt with.

Self-talk is often a factor in anxiety,  “I’m not good enough,”  “I’m not thin enough,” “(s)he’s better than me,” “I’m not tall enough, I’m ugly,”. The vital thing to remind yourself is that we’re all unique.

Go into an audition telling yourself that you’ll do your very best. Knowing that the artistic director/choreographer is looking for a specific type of dancer and it has nothing to do with your own talent if you’re not chosen, will help you feel more at ease. Artistic directors and choreographers are fickle people, so don’t worry if you don’t get in, it probably wasn’t right for you.  Remember you are the most important person in your life, look after yourself.

Do not compare yourself with anyone else.  Now write 100 lines…………

Speaking of writing, write down your intentions of what you want in the next year.  Write it in positive terms, so don’t write “I don’t want….etc., only write what you want.

Also, on a practical note, only go for the auditions that you know you want and the ones you know that you can attain the standard that they are looking for, your time and energy are limited, use them wisely.

Preparing for the audition:

Visualisations work well when rehearsing or practising aspects of dance that you find difficult. Close your eyes, visualise yourself actually dancing whatever you want to improve on.  What you visualise must be what you want it too look like – you doing it perfectly.  Do this over and over again as if you are in rehearsal or class.  Every time you imagine yourself doing it perfectly, turns perfect, balances perfect, jumps and batterie perfect.  Do the visualisations on the bus, train and before going to sleep. No physical energy is expended but your brain is getting you used to  dancing that piece perfectly.  Then your mind and body work together when you actually get to dance it.

Good luck with your auditions.

Terry Hyde MA MBACP

 

www.counsellingfordancers.com

Facebook and Instagram

@counsellingfordancers

Twitter

@counselingdance

 

Terry Hyde MA MBACP

Psychotherapist/counsellor

Terry started dancing at age 6, joining the Royal Ballet age 18.  He moved to London’s Festival Ballet (now ENB) as a soloist and performed in West End musicals, Film and TV.

Terry attained an MA in Psychotherapy validated by Middlesex University in 2012 and in 2017 set up the website www.counsellingfordancers.com, specifically to address the mental health needs of dancers.

Terry is in a unique position to understand the mental health needs of dancers and uses that, not only in his one to one therapy sessions, but also in his mental health self-care workshops.