Promoting the Performing Artist-Athlete
A Healthy Performer Case Study
By championing the idea of the ‘performing artist-athlete’, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance is pioneering new research, services, and training methods to better prepare students for the physical demands of the profession.
Taking the viewpoint that musicians and dancers are artist-athletes, it is evident that this group of people could be ‘fitter for purpose’ from a cardiorespiratory perspective. Research has shown that the demands of dance and music performance are often greater than the demands of training and learning and that this discrepancy could be addressed in order to better prepare performing artists for the physical stresses of the profession.
Teachers have traditionally relied on intuition, anecdotal experience, and practitioner wisdom to deliver their training. However, a healthy conservatoire must critically question whether their approach remains relevant and to consider the possibility of adopting a more systematic and science-based attitude to teaching.
Through research, teaching, and clinical work in the area of dance science and performance science, Trinity Laban has extended and enhanced their extra-curricular provision and HE curricula to enable students to become responsible and empowered for their own physical development in addition to being better-equipped and resourceful performers. They foster an environment that facilitates research-informed practice and promotes the idea that health and wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility. In particular, they campaign for supplementary fitness training and education so that all Trinity Laban music and dance students can improve their fitness, reduce risk of injury, enhance performance, and shift their thinking towards the view that performing artists are indeed athletes.
Trinity Laban has achieved these goals through regular, up-to-date, and accessible professional development and educational workshops for faculty and students, a large fully equipped conditioning studio, multi-disciplinary health and injury clinic, testing research laboratory, and a large counselling team, housed on-site and available five days a week for all students.
The health clinic provides a range of treatments including physiotherapy, sports massage, and nutrition.
The conditioning studio is equipped with Pilates, resistance and free weights equipment, suspension cables, balance balls and cardio machines and offers supervised self-practice as well as structured yoga, strength and conditioning, Pilates, and Thai Chi classes taught by fitness-qualified performing artists. The studio is open to all Trinity Laban students and is entirely free of charge.
Specialised educational workshops are offered to all students including safe weight-training for the performing artist, supporting hypermobility and safe stretching techniques for performance preparation.
Trinity Laban runs a programme of research studies within the testing research laboratory focused primarily on the health, wellbeing, and performance of performing artists. Key to this work has been the development of valid tests for measuring the fitness capacities of dancers, which are now utilised by many dance companies and schools in several countries. These tests are incorporated into our bi-annual screening and profiling programme to assess students’ fitness levels, track training progress, address potential injury risk, and assess the effectiveness of their training.
Visit Trinity Laban Health to learn about the range of services, treatments, and information offered.
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