Posts Tagged ‘Dance Science’

Event Report: Occupational Health in the Performing Arts Industry – The Original Gig Economy

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Health in the performing arts industry – whose responsibility?

Every year BAPAM helps with hundreds of inquiries about health problems related to working in the performing arts. These include musculoskeletal problems caused by strain and intensive use of parts of the body, vocal health issues which need specialist diagnosis and treatment, psychosocial problems including performance anxiety, stress related to the uncertain nature of the work (82% of the workforce are freelance) and more complex and enduring mental health conditions as well as hearing health problems. Performers, in common with other freelancers, tend to ignore health problems and seek help at a very late stage.  The research shows that, at any one time, 75% of performers will have a health problem.

We were delighted when the Royal Society of Medicine chose to partner with BAPAM on a professional development event held on March 27, 2019 to consider occupational health in the performing arts sector and its relationship to the wider ‘gig economy’. We were lucky to have a stellar line up of speakers from the arts, academic and clinical worlds to provide a range of perspectives on this question.

Kicking off the conference, Jane Dyball, former CEO of the Music Publishers Association outlined the complexity of the industry and the relationship of an artist to industry bodies at different times of their career. In the early stages, the artist may be very dependent on promoters, venues, managers, but that relationship changes when they are successful so that those bodies are dependent on the artist for their own success.

Dr. Colin Thomas, Chief Medical Officer of the BBC, added to the picture as he described the plethora of jobs undertaken by freelancers in broadcasting and the difficult balance between their tax status as self-employed workers and the duty of care issues that organisations owe to both employees and freelancers.

Zeb Soanes, BBC Radio 4 broadcaster and BAPAM Patron, described the moment when he suffered paralysis of one of his vocal cords and his journey back to full health and employment. He spoke with courage of the isolation and anxiety of losing your identity and the difficulties of accessing the right care in this very specialist area.

Professor Aaron Williamon of the Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science, described results from recent research which demonstrated the lack of general fitness, particularly amongst student musicians.

In the afternoon we heard examples of good practice from Peter Garden of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Professor Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban. Peter outlined Liverpool Philharmonic’s approach to developing and supporting performance excellence through providing health and wellbeing services to orchestra musicians. He and the Board have seen the impact of this investment on enhanced performance, improved employee satisfaction and engagement, and positive signs of reduced reliance on freelancers to cover sickness absence due to playing-related musculoskeletal injuries. Professor Redding outlined the advances in healthy practice in dance education and how a specialist health insurance scheme is helping to provide access to occupational health services.

Dr Rob Hampton, RCGP representative at Public Health England and a practising GP, described his own caseload and the difficulties for freelancers in accessing support with work-related health problems, the impact on the NHS and the evidence that working itself improves health. Dr John Etherington, NHS lead for rehabilitation, drew on research on performance enhancement in the military and in sport to demonstrate that effective training for the physical and vocation-related psychological demands as well as good rehabilitation after an injury can significantly improve health.

In this conference, the problems were clearly laid out and examples of solutions are available, but whose responsibility is it to drive the improvements? With over £5bn in UK annual revenue coming from the performing arts, it doesn’t seem sensible NOT to look after the health of the workforce, and leaving this role to charities on their own is not a sustainable solution.

Here are some thoughts from the BAPAM team on how the current position might be improved. First of all, to answer the question, who is responsible for improving performing arts health?

  1. Employers and Education Providers. These bodies do have a duty of care to employees and students. Liverpool Philharmonic has demonstrated the economic and artistic case for employers investing in healthcare. Many employers can and do support occupational health for performers. A consistent approach here would improve the health of 18% of the workforce. There are 50,000 students in performing arts education and Professor Williamon’s research, the practice in Dance Education and the work of the Healthy Conservatoires Network demonstrate what can and should be done to develop healthy behaviours in students and ready them for the realities of working life.
  2. The Freelance Performer. The performer is responsible for their own health (however, see point 3 below), including seeking help at an early stage and following the health behaviours which are evidenced to reduce the likelihood of health problems. Freelance performers who have learned these behaviours in education should be equipped for the working environment, but many performers have not had access to performance education. The provision of educational sessions and written and online materials together with peer support networks is crucial for this group. The Musicians’ Union, ISM, Equity, Help Musicians, Music Support as well as BAPAM and many other individual coaches and writers are currently offering support in this area.
  3. The Performance Environment. Research evidence tells us that good self-care is best achieved within organisational structures that support individual wellbeing. While other organisations in the industry may not have a direct responsibility for performers, they do have a responsibility for ensuring that the environment enables the performer to carry out their personal health responsibility. In addition to statutory health and safety duties, a culture and environment that encourages and supports healthy practice will help performers. As a very basic example, hydration is vital for performers – if there is no water available in a venue, it becomes difficult for the performer to practise this behaviour. What if the acoustics are so bad in a venue that the only way performers can hear themselves is turning the amps up excessively? What if there is a culture in your organisation that discriminates against certain groups or individuals, contributing to negative social relationships and mental health problems? What if the people you depend on don’t know where to go for help when they need it?

If this is a structure we can organise around, then what would a Health Manifesto for the Performing Arts look like?

  1. Everyone in the performing arts world needs to understand what healthy practice means, from the educator to the employer, individual performance professionals and any organisation or individual working in the business (managers, promoters, agents, labels etc).
  2. Everyone needs to know where and how to get clinical help when they need it.
  3. All funding options should be explored to develop a system-wide approach to providing for the health needs of performers, combining charitable funding sources with other sources of support including industry-specific insurance schemes, access to work funding etc.

We welcome responses by email at info@bapam.org.uk

Dancers Study

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

A new international study explores the relationship between physical activity, including dancing, other risk factors (such as diet), and health.

The National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science and the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis are investigating the long-term effect of these factors and their relation to the risk of disease, including osteoarthritis.

The team are asking participants to complete an online questionnaire, which is anonymous. Taking part is entirely voluntary and if you wish to do so, you are free to withdraw at any time. If you agree to continue you will be asked to complete two more questionnaires which will enable the researchers to get an understanding of how much physical activity/dancing you do and the effects on your overall health, including your lower body joints

The deadline for participation is the 31st of March 2017.

An optional prize draw is available for those who wish to enter.

The link to access the survey is: https://nottingham.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/dance

Performing Arts Medicine Graduates at IADMS Conference in Hong Kong

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

We are delighted that two of our Performing Arts Medicine graduates from the University College London Master’s degree in Performing Arts Medicine presented their research results at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) 26th annual conference at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

Susanna Piculell, a Swedish Physiotherapist working in private practice and with the Swedish Volleyball team, undertook research with the Royal Ballet into pre-seasonal screening and injury rates in classical ballet. Since graduating from UCL she has relocated to Sweden and integrated her gained knowledge and skills at Lunds Dans och Musikalgymnasium (a secondary school for dance and musical theatre students), Malmoe Academy of Music and Artists and Musicians health in Malmoe. Experiences from her MSc (including the many observations at the BAPAM clinic) have contributed not only to Susanna’s clinical work but also to new career opportunities. She is now also lecturing on ergonomics and healthy lifestyles for musicians.

Karolin Krell, Physiotherapist and Osteopath, works in private practice in London and regularly tours with the German National Rowing and Skeleton Team. She explored sleep and rest habits amongst performing artists during her MSc studies and presented her results during the science poster session in Hong Kong. Since completing her MSc she also practices on site at the London Contemporary Dance School and supported various circus and dance companies backstage to keep busy tour schedules rolling. Furthermore, Karolin is very eager and involved in the newly formed UK Osteopathic Performing Arts Care Association (OPACA), an interest group for osteopathic students and osteopaths involved or interested in the health care of performing artists.

Susanna and Karolin both share a passion to support and develop performing arts medicine and enjoyed the conference very much. IADMS strives to enhance the health, well-being, training and performance of dancers by ‘cultivating educational, medical and scientific excellence’. The meeting in Hong Kong proved to be a wonderful opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas with dance medicine and science experts from all over the world. After four exciting days filled with seminars, poster presentations, movement sessions and social events (and tropical storms!) Susanna and Karolin returned inspired with new ideas for management and treatment approaches within the dance sector. Amongst many things, it was very beneficial to have the opportunity to network and connect with peers. Meeting other delegates from Finland and Sweden allowed Susanna to further develop collaboration between Scandinavian performing arts medicine practitioners. One idea is to arrange a smaller Scandinavian meeting in 2017 as an additional networking opportunity prior to the IADMS 28th meeting, which will be in Helsinki 2018.

Susanna and Karolin are very grateful in particular to the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and their supervisors that guided them though their studies at the University College London.

Susanna was winner of the BAPAM prize in 2015 for the UCL PAM MSc Research Project.

Both Susanna and Karolin received BAPAM Shipley-Rudge Research & Education Awards to support attendance at research conferences to present their MSc research during 2016. BAPAM is able to offer these awards thanks an annual donation from Dr Mike Shipley and Philip Rudge.

Research Investigates Dance Shoes

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Lindsay Wallace, a dancer, physiotherapist and Performing Arts Medicine MSc researcher at University College London, is looking for female dancers (minimum 4 hours dance activity per week) to take part in her project investigating dance footwear. The project aims to help reduce dance injuries and protect dancers.

Female dancers, please fill in this survey.

Treating the Professional Dancer – Healthy Performers CPD Course

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

A one-day CPD course for musculo-skeletal practitioners, dance scientists & teachers interested in dance injury management, organised by Osteopath and Performing Arts Medicine MSc lecturer and module leader, Jennie Morton (healthyperformers.com).

Please note: this is an independent event, and is not organised by BAPAM. 

For further info or to request a booking form, please email
info@healthyperformers.com

TREATING THE PROFESSIONAL DANCER
Sunday September 8th 2013
10.30am – 5.30pm
at
JACKSONS LANE – Studio One
269a Archway Road, London. N6 5AA

Common dance injuries & their aetiology
An overview of dance genres & their specific challenges
The issues of hypermobility
The postural, technique & environmental issues faced by dancers
Assessment, treatment & management approaches for injured dancers
Dance demonstration & interaction with professional dancers

7 Hours CPD

Course Fee £115 (Students £95)

Course Tutor:
Jennie Morton BSc (Hons) Osteopathy
UCL Honorary Lecturer & Module Leader for the MSc in Performing Arts Medicine, UCL Division of Surgery
& Interventional Science
Osteopath & Lecturer for The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine
Speaker for Dance UK: Healthier Dancer Programme

Nutrition and Touring

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Nutrition and Touring

A new Business of Dance training session organised by DanceUK

When: Monday 8 April 2013, 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, Wimpole Theatre,1 Wimpole Street,London,W1G 0AE

Nutrition and Touring is a new seminar aimed at company managers, artistic directors, rehearsal directors, touring dancers and dance science students and practitioners. It will feature the most up-to-date research and advice in healthy touring and nutrition for dancers. Share knowledge and learn from fellow dance professionals working in dance touring who strive to create healthy working environments in dance companies and theatres. Speakers are:
Mhairi Keil, Performance Nutritionist and Consultant with the English Institute of Sport
Jess Sayers, Company Manager, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance
Erin Sanchez, Healthier Dancer Programme manager, DanceUK

Tickets £8 Dance UKmember, £18 non members – Buy tickets here at Dance UK’s online shop http://www.danceuk.org/shop/events/