The MSc Dance Science degree at Trinity Laban is the longest running dance science programme in the world. The Flash spoke to Head of Dance Science Dr Emma Redding about the success of the programme.
How did Dance Science at Trinity Laban start?
"Trinity Laban was the first to develop a masters in Dance Science in the 90s. Dr Marion North, then Director of the Laban Centre, was always seeking new programme initiatives and she approached me about writing a postgraduate programme for Dance Science. We developed the curriculum from there."
What services does Dance Science offer to staff and students?
"Along with the MSc, PhDs and Dance Science related modules which are taught on the undergraduate and one year programmes, we have an amazing Pilates studio, injury clinic and treatment rooms. A screening programme is offered to all our students at the start, during and end of their program. Through the screening, we are enabling students to gain further understanding about themselves in the hope that they will feel more empowered and responsible for their own development. It's also a systematic way of measuring the effectiveness of our own training of our students."
How can music students benefit from Dance Science?
"Our music students are welcome to access the Pilates studio facilities, however the big news is that is Trinity Laban is now part of a huge four year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, called Musical Impact. This is the largest research project of its kind and will investigate the health and wellbeing of musicians and the physical and mental demands of music playing. I hope that all our music students take in some way over the next 4 years."
How do you think dancers' attitudes have changed with the growth of Dance Science?
"It takes years for new teaching methods and ideas around training to take hold. However I'm noticing that current dancers are not prepared to put up with unsafe practices and conditions. They are becoming much more self-assured, independent and responsible for their health and wellbeing. There is now NHS funded specialist dance healthcare which is housed within the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science of which Trinity Laban is a partner and it would be fair to say that the UK produces half of the world's research in dance science"
Where do you see the MSc Dance Science programme in the next ten years?
"Current research in neuroscience and performance psychology is investigating audience engagement as well as the way in which dancers think when moving and creating dance. There are new teachers resources available on safe and effective teaching practice and there is now a global consensus regarding effective methods for dance injury research. Our aim is to play a part in that research so that our programmes retain their currency and we continue to attract interest from professional dance companies such as Random Dance, Mimbre and Akram Khan."
What career paths have graduates taken?
"It's a good time to be pursue a career in Dance Science because the field is still growing. Many of our students become research assistants for various projects; others further their research at PhD level. Several graduates have become consultants for dance companies and are well placed to be delivering lectures and classes at undergraduate level at universities. This is testament to the success of the programme and I am excited about what the future may hold for the field of dance science.