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Dance Science

Emma Redding headshot with overlaid graphic shapes in blue and gold

New Year Honour for Professor Emma Redding

Trinity Laban’s Head of Dance Science receives MBE for services to dance

The New Year Honours List recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the UK and this year Trinity Laban staff have again been recognised for their dedication and talent.

Originally trained as a dancer, Professor Emma Redding wrote the world’s first master’s degree in Dance Science for Trinity Laban in 2001. She has since played a key role in developing dance science as a recognised field of study through her research and international teaching, establishing the conservatoire as a leader in dance science education, research and clinical services.

On receiving an MBE for services to dance, Redding comments –

“I am humbled and hugely grateful to receive an MBE Queen’s Honour for services to dance. Dance and performance science is now a viable and established area of research and study, a collaborative achievement that has involved many talented people. This award is in recognition of a shared and passionate effort by all the dedicated individuals who have contributed to the field.”

Redding teaches physiology and contemporary technique at Trinity Laban alongside her management and research work. She was one of the Principal Investigators of a Conservatoires UK large-scale musicians’ health study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Co-Investigator of a creativity and imagery study, in collaboration with Plymouth University and Coventry University.

She is also a founding partner of the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS) and a former President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS).

Redding was conferred with the title of Professor in Performance Science at Trinity Laban in January 2017.

Also recognised this year was Trinity Laban Honorary Fellow Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras.

4 mature dancers performing side bend in a dance studio

Dance, Health and Wellbeing findings published

Collaborative research between Trinity Laban, the University of Exeter and Dance in Devon has found that more effective partnerships between medics and dance professionals are needed to discover the benefits of dance to health.

Researchers,  including our Dance Science and Learning and Participation teams, have worked to identify the impact of dance as an artform on health and wellbeing and to find the best methods for exploring this.

The research, which took place between September 2019 and April 2021, included a systematic literature review, focus groups with people working to promote dance for health, and a symposium.

It found that the creative and artistic character of dance impacted on health and wellbeing, contributing in key areas including sense of identity, belonging and feelings of self-worth.

Those who took part in the study said links between these impacts and factors such as touch, vulnerability, affect, presence, trust and embodiment are key issues in dance for health, but little understood and worthy of greater attention. They called for more work to develop appropriate methods and vocabularies to address these topics.

Those interviewed said there should be greater acknowledgement of the combined physicality, artistry and self-expression that dance entails during future research. They called for more collaboration with dancers so that their expertise could support this, more co-research and evaluation with participants to include their voices and perspectives and more cross-sector research involving respected dance and health partners.

The report also calls for new scales and methodologies to be used by researchers that measure and capture dance on its own terms, and better use of film and individual testimony to illustrate the benefits of dance to a wider audience.

Professor Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban said –

“We were delighted to undertake this collaborative project with colleagues at the University of Exeter and Dance in Devon, investigating the contribution that dance makes to health and wellbeing. Work such as this aligns both with the tremendous programme of participatory dance we offer to local communities as well as the significant research we undertake in the field of dance science. This research was an exciting journey to be a part of as it highlighted important findings as well as revealing gaps in the literature warranting further investigations.”

Dr Sue Smith, Executive Director of Dance in Devon added –

“It has been a privilege to work with University of Exeter and Trinity Laban on this project to understand the impact of dance on our communities more deeply. We see the positive effects of dance in the studio, outdoors and on screen with our communities week-by-week so it was fascinating to work with academic colleagues to delve further into the ways in which the art of dance contributes to health and wellbeing. Our collaborative approach enabled broad perspectives and experiences to inform the process and the research has sparked some important leads for further attention.”

Associate Professor Kerry Chappell, Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter, and the project’s Principal Investigator commented –

“This research, including the systematic literature review has allowed us to put the contribution of dance to health more rigorously on the arts and health map. We are grateful to the University of Exeter Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health for such positive support throughout. This work is grounded in partnerships with Trinity Laban and Dance in Devon stretching back twenty years, and represents cutting edge expertise in the field; we now have an exciting and strong foundation to develop future research and practice that can evidence and catalyse the impact of the aesthetic, artistic and creative contributions of dance on wider health.”

Discover more about our Dance Science research.

Dance Science student dancing in metamax equipment

TL’s Dance Science programme widens scope

The department introduces Hip Hop to its core training.

Head of Dance Science, Professor Emma Redding, and her team are expanding the practical technique module on Trinity Laban’s BSc Dance Science programme to include Hip Hop. This is to enable students across the programme’s three years to engage practically and academically with a wide range of dance styles and genres and broaden the scope of dance science research.

Joining TL’s Faculty of Dance to deliver the weekly classes to undergraduate Dance Science students is movement director, Hip Hop theatre maker, performer, lecturer, and choreographer Yami Löfvenberg.

An established artist with over 21 years’ experience within Hip Hop Dance and Theatre sectors, Yami has delivered dance theatre workshops across the UK & internationally and is a member of performance collective Hot Brown Honey. She was on the creative choreographic team for the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, is a recipient of the British Council, Arts Council England and Marion North Awards, and is a One Dance UK DAD Trailblazer Fellow.

As a MAKE artist, Yami has delivered training to arts companies on issues concerning unconscious bias and diversity, facilitated by Talawa Theatre. Find out more in Yami’s interview with Ian Abbott for Hip Hop Dance Almanac volume 3.

On her appointment, Yami comments –

“I am very excited to join Trinity Laban and their new chapter in Dance education. It is an honour to be part of such an important change and to provide an in-depth understanding of Black Vernacular Dance history to the students. This module is a new, and brilliant step in the right direction of embracing all the beautiful cultural elements Hip Hop dance brings.”

Head of Dance Science, Emma Redding, comments  –

“We are committed to exploring all dance genres and styles in Dance Science at Trinity Laban and as part of this drive, I’m delighted to welcome Hip Hop theatre maker and performer, Yami Löfvenberg to the BSc Dance Science teaching team.”

This latest development to expand the scope of the BSc training builds on TL’s reputation as an established pioneer in the rapidly expanding field of Dance Science. Known for the world’s first Masters degree in Dance Science, the conservatoire recently hosted an interdisciplinary day on dance science and diversity on 29 January. The event aimed to raise awareness of the range of diversity-related questions that dance science can address and spark new ideas for future research. The range of international speakers included multidisciplinary artist and researcher Kayla McClellan Kayla, TL alum and Founder of Popping for Parkinson’s Simone Sistarelli and founder of Chicago company M.A.D.D. Rhythms Bril Barrett.

Find out more about our Dance Science programmes.

Emily Jenkins headshot (left) and Lucy McCrudden headshot (right)

Dance alumni secure national funding to deliver pioneering digital programmes

Emily Jenkins’ Move Dance Feel and Lucy McCrudden’s Dance Mama now have support to expand digitally to help communities in need.

Community-based arts organisations Move Dance Feel and Dance Mama, founded by members of the Trinity Laban community, have secured grants from key UK funding bodies to develop an enhanced online offering and provide vital support to participants across the globe.

Move Dance Feel

Emily Jenkins launched the community project centred around artistic practice as support for women affected by cancer in 2016 while researching the benefits of dance for an MA in Creative Practice at Trinity Laban. Prior to her master studies, Emily completed Trinity Laban’s Postgraduate Diploma: Community Dance.

Move Dance Feel provides opportunities for women to express themselves through dance and build relationships via physical communication. It is open to women living with or beyond cancer and those supporting or mourning the loss of someone with cancer.

Move Dance Feel has identified that the need for support has intensified during the pandemic as people’s treatment plans and operations were suspended, and many face loneliness due to the necessity to shield.

While Move Dance Feel’s cancer centre partners remain closed for group activity in response to Covid-19, their online programme is continuing to grow and develop with participants joining from all over the globe.

Now, new funding from the National Lottery Coronavirus Community Support Fund and the Mayor of London Stronger Communities Fund will enable Move Dance Feel to offer two weekly online dance sessions and a dance film discussion session every fortnight until March.

The project is also running a study to assess the efficacy of their online format. Results will be shared in spring 2021.

Emily comments –

“Receiving a grant from the National Lottery Community Support Fund has provided vital support during what is an incredibly challenging time for small dance companies. Paired with a Stronger Communities grant from the Mayor of London it has enabled us to keep going and develop a qualitative Move Dance Feel Online offering.

“We are delighted to be reaching more women in need – across the UK and internationally – and to learn that there’s significant value in dancing together digitally. As a team of seven dance artists, we have enjoyed the process of translating the Move Dance Feel methodology into a suitable format for the digital realm, pushing ourselves in new ways creatively.”

Move Dance Feel works in partnership with Maggie’s Barts, Paul’s Cancer Support Centre and Penny Brohn UK, and is developing a training programme piloting in Autumn 2021.

Read ‘Dancing for Joy’, Emily’s reflections on how group and solo dance gives rise to feelings of joy commissioned by Leeds Cultural Institute for online exhibition Beyond Measure?

movedancefeel@gmail.com | @movedancefeel

Dance Mama

London-based dance entrepreneur and advocate Lucy McCrudden graduated from Trinity Laban in 2002 with a BA (Hons) in Dance Theatre. She has enjoyed an 18-year career in dance learning and participation with organisations including Rambert, The Place, DanceXchange and English National Ballet and is the Founder of online community and resource sharing platform: Dance Mama.

Dance Mama have been awarded an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant for Dance Mama Live!, a free monthly professional development programme of informative and creative activity designed to support and empower parents working in dance and the arts that launches spring 2021.

Over 10 months, participants will engage in sessions including a webinar with a leading specialist and a choreographic workshop from a spectrum of dance makers. The programme is designed to connect parents with their creativity and create a community and has inbuilt flexibility, making it accessible for parents with busy schedules.​ The final session will culminate in an informal sharing online to allow participants the opportunity to share their work with each other.

Running alongside the main programme of activity, Dance Mama will provide dance and creative sessions for women in the general public deemed at risk of maternal health issues by registered healthcare practitioners.

Lucy comments –

“This is a landmark step for Dance Mama. The transformative programme will give many parents across the sector and beyond access to high quality, tangible and bespoke support. It’s a much-needed opportunity that removes the barriers so many parents face to developing their dance careers, simply because of their circumstances.”

The flagship online programme will be delivered in partnership with One Dance UK, Sadler’s Wells, DanceXchange, Yorkshire Dance and Clearcut.

To find out more about Dance Mama Live! and take part, sign-up.

Read Lucy’s 2014 article for One Dance UK that started it all and find out more about her career in business handbook Building A Portfolio Career.

Discover more about our dance training on our study pages.

Image L-R: Emily Jenkins (credit Camilla Greenwell), Lucy McCrudden (credit Pierre Tappon)