The Fusion of Dance Pedagogy & Dance Science
The academy trains teachers who are first and foremost interested in the welfare of their students, prevention of injuries, and the preservation of the individual physical and mental health of (young) dancers in education!
The study and academy aim at teachers or dancers who understand the importance of a fusion of dance pedagogy and dance medicine to enhance the health and wellbeing of dancers - turning the occupation of a teacher into an inner calling more than a job after an active dancer's career.
The principal of the academy, Judith-Elisa Kaufmann, is a renowned teacher for dance medicine, dance science, and dance pedagogy worldwide, teaching at universities, schools, theatres, and institutions. Her Book "Dance Pedagogy & Dance Medicine - The Fusion of the Dancer's Future" was published in 2016 (German Version "Tanzpädagogik & Tanzmedizin - Die Symbiose der Zukunft". English version coming soon!).
Professional dance is high performance sport. Dancers work a higher number of hours with less medical care and extremely high risk of injury than many other athletes. Out of this reason, the call for dance medical care is getting louder, but is apparently not part of the decision-making instances yet. A social and political change in thinking has become necessary. Dance medicine and education must be recognized and politically anchored as professional departments in science and education ministries. In order to enhance Austria’s dance medical standards up to internationally recognized standards, healthy dancers need a health-preserving work environment. Therefore, dance medicine demands for the following measures in prevention, diagnosis and rehabilitation:
There is still no legally binding requirement for dance instructors and coaches to perform an educational-medical in-depth study. This would be necessary to guarantee a recognition of and respect for every dancer’s individual physical and psychological needs, as well as the implementation of scientific training principles. Compulsory warm-up / cool-down, adequate floors and healthy and safe surroundings, periodization and proper training plans, nutritional / drinking habits to prevent eating disorders, dealing with limitations of physical capabilities, screening programs to secure health and enhance training, dance-medical based tests on aptitude etc. must become standard in dance institutions. The demands that are placed on dancers are rising constantly. As a result, training concepts should not remain unchanged!
Respect from institutions and trainers for young dancers who provide their body as athletic instrument for artistic work already in a very young age is as necessary as respect for the profession of dance teachers and trainers. This needs political changes. The lack of dance teachers’ education often leads to a lack of prestige for educators, who therefore can’t enjoy high self-esteem. The combination of these grievances characterizes the atmosphere of an outdated education climate. Dance medical knowledge for dancers and access to appropriate specialized health care professions, as well as supportive measures, such as specific compensation of physical deficits through additional training must be open to dancers.
(Dance) medical care for dancers and dance trainers in institutions, as well as monitorizing injury rates of dancers must be a political commitment. Successful treatment depends on dealing with pain and injury as well as subsequent avoidance of causes which have led to chronic injuries. If dancers are not allowed to respect individual boundaries and pain, it will not be surprising that the injury rate of dancers is alarmingly high and the personal responsibility, however, is low. Threats of dismissals because of injury and the need of sick leaves should be made indictable. Furthermore, first aid through trainers is only and foremost guaranteed by their compulsory education and knowledge, and would avoid a lot of mistakes which happen in primary care.
Recognition of dance medicine and dance as a competitive sport would provide options for rapid injury diagnostic through immediately available appointments for imaging techniques and cooperation with insurance companies - something that is taken for granted in many sports, but is not even discussed politically in dance. There is prompt need for financial, structural and human resources, sustainability and inter-professional collaboration. Education and training of health professionals, insurance companies and dance artists are necessary. One must not disregard the human right of dancers to work in an environment that does not make sick, their right on regeneration, fair contracts, payment and insurance. Public and institutional policymakers have to take into account the long-term consequences resulting from poor health of dancers and the ensuing financial losses for communities and culture. Dance medical assistance, already in prevention, through education, treatment and networking pays off especially in the long term: a reduction in hidden costs (e.g. compensatory rehearsals and costumes, sick leave, rehabilitation) enables long-term financial sustainability of health-promoting measures for dancers and an increase in artistic performance.
To achieve this, dance institutions will need financial and political assistance from those who enjoy the results of high quality performance: the public. Each individual attending dance performances could and would contribute to better care of dancers, if they were informed of the very need of all the stated above. [Excerpt from "Dance medical demands" by Judith-Elisa Kaufmann & Anita Kiselka, MSc; Dancer's Magazine 2015]
Hence, the most important criteria for enrolment in the degree is an individual interest of the student in dance medicine and the motivation to change the present lack of compulsory high-quality dance-teacher's education for the sake of the dancers.