Last week I returned to Laban (now Trinity Laban) to research a book that I am beginning to write. The prospect of writing a book is a new venture but one that it exciting and a new challenge for me. The book will be focusing on a dancer’s psychology and to help in times of stress, anxiety and the daily struggles that a dance life can throw at you! The strength of a dancer’s mental health is key to physical well being and enabling a dancer to reach their full potential and highest ability. I spent a few days tucked away in Laban’s resourceful library and I hope that the outcome will prove to be useful to dancers in training and dancers who have been around a while!
When I was training in dance I found it mentally tough and at the time I didn’t understand the emotional battles that I experienced on an everyday basis or what was causing them. I experienced low confidence and self-esteem issues, which in turn caused anxiety and low mood and this ultimately impacted on my physical abilities. I have since discovered these issues concern a huge proportion of dancers who do not always openly discuss it but many have experienced it. As a teacher I have observed talented students battling with insecurities, self-doubt, performance anxiety, stress and exhaustion and I feel as Dancers, practitioners and dance students that our mental health, well-being and psychology are not always addressed or taken care of. Student dancers are taught how to look after themselves physically – what to eat, how to treat an early injury, how to train safely and so forth but I think we could do more to take care of dancers mentally and to find methods to cope psychologically with the lifestyle that dance creates. Mental skills, just like technique can be developed and acquired and they are not just ‘something you are born with’. A positive, confident approach can be practiced and learned with an equal amount of discipline that is required to turn or jump.
So, watch this space… If anyone has any experience relating to these issues or would like to share any knowledge or information, please do get in touch as it would be great to hear from you. I feel this is a really important issue in the dance world and an area for huge development.