The Safe Dance Report IV: Investigating injuries in Australia’s professional dancers, published today on the Ausdance National website, examines the Australian context and occurrence of injury in professional dancers and makes recommendations to support sustainable, healthy, and productive dancing careers.
A collaboration between The University of Sydney and Ausdance National, Safe Dance IV is the fourth in a series of Safe Dance research projects. It continues the important work started by Ausdance National almost 30 years ago.
The survey of 195 Australian professional dancers found 97% experienced at least one significant injury in their dance career, compared with 89% in 1999. And 73% of dancers reported experiencing a dance-related injury in the past 12 months.
Author and lead researcher Amy Jo Vassallo, a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Sydney, said the consequences of these injuries can be quite substantial and include missed performance opportunities and income, ongoing pain and disability, and expensive treatment including surgery. Serious injuries can even lead to early retirement from dance careers and lifelong disability.
‘The proportion of dancers reporting fatigue as a contributing factor to their injury has increased from 26% in 1990 and 33% in 1999 to 48% in 2017’ she said.
‘However, compared with previous Safe Dance survey results, fewer dancers reported poor technique or environment as a contributor to their injury. This demonstrates the benefits of education, policies and interventions regarding safe dancing practice for dancers and teachers at all stages of a dance career, including early teaching and pre-professional training’.
Ausdance National President, Professor Gene Moyle, said the Safe Dance Report IV continues an important lineage for the Australian dance community. Hearing the words “safe dance practice” being so much a part of our language and approach within the dance sector today is a testament to the impact and contribution of the collective Safe Dance reports within our industry.
Recommendations have outlined that access to dance-educated or dance-specialised healthcare services is essential; addressing the cultural aspects of injury reporting is critical; and that a better acknowledgement of the psychological and psychosocial aspects of injury is required.
Survey respondents’ employment as a dance performer was most commonly with a dance company (66%) or as an independent dance artist (38%).
Injuries remain common in professional dance, with 73% of professional dancers reporting experiencing an injury in the past 12 months. The most common site of injury was the ankle (26%), followed by the knee (11%) and hip (10%).
The most common injury type was a strain (25%), followed by chronic inflammation (19%) and a sprain (18%).
There was one accidental or traumatic injury for every two overuse or gradual injuries. The most common responses regarding the self-reported contributor to injury were fatigue (48%), followed by new or difficult choreography (39%) and ignoring early warning signs (31%).
Despite 62% of respondents reporting belief that there is still stigma associated with sustaining injuries as a professional dancer, 75% of dancers did say they would seek professional opinion if they suspected an injury. However, only 50% stated they would tell someone within their dance employment and 49% said they would also take their own preventative steps to manage their injury.
Despite seeing a clinician for treatment of their injury, 40% of dancers whose injury was currently unresolved were unsure if their injury would resolve in the foreseeable future. This indicates that many dancers need to be provided with improved and realistic expectations of their injury, capacity to dance during their injury and likely return to full dance ability.
For interview contact:
Amy Vassallo | PhD Candidate
Faculty of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 02 9351 9010 and 02 9351 9108
Professor Gene Moyle ARAD MAPS MCSEP GAICD SFHEA
Ausdance National Council – Ausdance Inc.
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +61 7 3138 3616
Download Safe Dance Report IV media release
Since our last report, NAAE has been engaged in meetings and correspondence with the NSW Education Minister, Mr Rob Stokes, and the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) about the development of a new Creative Arts syllabus in NSW.
NAAE’s concerns about the new syllabus centre around the exclusion of Media Arts as a discrete subject in the arts curriculum. In its meetings with NESA staff and in a letter to Mr Stokes, NAAE made several points about the essential role of Media Arts in a 21st Century curriculum:
- The exclusion of Media Arts means that NSW students are being denied the opportunity available to every student in every other educational jurisdiction in the country to engage with 21st Century media, art forms and learning. The NESA Creative Arts draft directions provide a very mid to late 20th Century approach, setting directions that are limiting rather than enabling.
- The notion of Media (Arts) being taught across the curriculum is fine as a tool to assist learning in other subject areas, but it denies the existence of Media Arts as a separate but equal art form. This ad hoc approach means it will not be taught at all or it will be covered inadequately, denying Media Arts practice as a discrete art form. Other jurisdictions have found with other subjects that ‘everywhere across the curriculum’ actually means nowhere.
NAAE also made a submission to the Gonski Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, authored by lead writers Sandra Gattenhof and John Saunders (Drama Australia). In an eight-page submission we recommended:
- The full implementation of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts in all states and territories in Australia, across the primary and secondary years of schooling.
- Increased professional learning opportunities across the five Arts subjects (Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music and Visual Arts) in primary schools to support teachers to effectively teach The Arts and improve student academic and non-academic outcomes in Arts and non-Arts areas.
- Increased time allocated in pre-service teacher training for primary teachers to gain further expertise in teaching The Arts.
Expressions of interest are sought from contemporary dancer–makers for Tasdance professional ensemble 2018–20.
Tasdance has embarked on a daring new approach to the nature of the professional contemporary dance ensemble to become the Tasdance Makers Company.
The NAAE will have its next meeting on 11 December, but NSW reps will in the meantime be meeting with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to discuss concerns about the way in which the Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus is being rewritten, and about the exclusion of Media Arts from the NSW curriculum, despite agreement by all Australian governments to adopt the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. It’s clear that NSW’s options clearly do not represent the agreement endorsed at COAG (which included the NSW Education Minister). (Minister’s response [PDF 2.9MB]
In the meantime NAAE member Sandra Gattenhoff will be attending an open forum in Brisbane with Arts Minister Mitch Fifield on Thursday 21 November. We hope there will be an opportunity for Sandra to ask whether the Minister would be willing to receive a proposal to fund an inquiry similar to Arts Council England’s Commission to explore the benefits of arts for children.
NAAE has also supported the development of the WA Play Strategy for Early Childhood Australia, as requested by Sandra Hesterman of the Early Childhood Association WA.
Congratulations to Kristina Chan who received the Ausdance National Peggy van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship at the 2017 Australian Dance Awards on Sunday 24 September 2017.
Can you even remember life before the internet? Hang on, perhaps you weren’t alive.
The digital domain has transformed almost every facet of our lives—but for those of us in the arts, it’s been especially influential in the way we make and consume art. In many ways there have never been more ways to get your art out there, and the artistic possibilities of new technologies are seemingly endless…but life for dance in the digital domain is not without its challenges.
Tuesday 22 August 2017
For immediate release
Australia’s peak dance organisation, Ausdance National, will host a two-day forum next month bringing together dance makers, producers and presenters for a highly topical forum focusing on the future of dance within the digital domain. The National Dance Forum is Australia’s key platform for dance artists, industry professionals and educators in providing rich opportunities to discuss, debate and collaborate with some of the most influential individuals and organisations in the country.
We are thrilled to announce our third key speaker for National Dance Forum 2017—David Throsby, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Macquarie University.
Save the dates: 24–26 September 2017
Join us in Melbourne for the Australian Dance Awards on 24 September and the National Dance Forum from 25–26 September.
We hope you can join us at both events. Here are the booking and registration details:
Registrations for National Dance Forum 2017 have opened. The last three forums have sold out in advance, so book early to make sure you're part of the most important dance discussion in Australia. Register here
We know the dance sector wants a chance to share, inspire, connect and to be inspired by the whole dance industry—that includes the broader ecology, from independents to majors. At NDF 2017 we'll hear inspiring talks from our National Dance Forum 2017 speakers.
Here are our first speakers for this year's forum.
Congratulations to the shortlisted nominees for one of the country’s most prestigious performing arts awards. The Australian Dance Awards recognise and honour outstanding achievement.
2017 National Dance Forum
25–26 September, Victorian College of the Arts
16 May 2017
The 2017 National Dance Forum will bring together makers, producers and presenters to discuss and share knowledge on current digital practices and technological developments. The two-day forum will focus on strengthening the dance sector’s capacity within the digital domain.
Led by the dance sector’s advocate for 40 years—Ausdance National—the fourth National Dance Forum (NDF2017) will take place at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, 25–26 September 2017 and will follow the Australian Dance Awards (Arts Centre Melbourne, 24 September 2017).
Dance artists, companies, presenters and researchers looking for ways to grow meaningful audience relationships and understand the issues around making art in a digital environment, need to attend.
Ausdance National and the Ausdance network welcome news today that the Arts Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, has decided to return Catalyst funds to the Australia Council.
The sudden removal of funds from the Australia Council, the loss of transparent peer reviewed decision-making processes and uncertainty about the role of Catalyst have caused enormous disruption and distress across the sector.
Ausdance National President-elect, Associate Professor Gene Moyle, said: ‘The Minister’s decision to return remaining Catalyst funds to the Australia Council is a very welcome step. The Minister is to be congratulated for acting on the strong messages he has received about the loss of highly-regarded dance companies and organisations, and has moved to address the ongoing concerns of the arts profession.
‘We now want to ensure that some funding balance will be returned to the small to medium dance sector in particular, so we welcome the Minister’s comment that “This will allow the Australia Council to continue to focus on supporting small to medium arts organisations.'
We look forward to working with the Minister and the Australia Council to ensure that this goal is realised.
Contact: Gene Moyle (0411 640 012) or Julie Dyson (041 2211 513)
The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) has had a very productive start to 2017, with the NAAE paper advocating for inclusion of the Arts in the STEM agenda being submitted to the Federal Government’s Inquiry into Innovation and Creativity: Workforce for the new economy. The paper was co-authored by John Saunders and Sandra Gattenhof (Drama Australia), with input from all other artform members of NAAE, including dance educators Jeff Meiners (SA) and Sue Fox (Qld).
While most people only refer to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) when discussing innovation and creativity, the Arts are considered in many countries to be an essential element of an innovative economy, hence the increasing advocacy for STEAM in Australia. We note with real concern that the arts were not included in the Federal Government’s original National Innovation & Science Agenda, nor do most submissions to the current inquiry mention the Arts.
However, strong submissions were made for a STEAM agenda by several prominent organisations, including the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), the Australian Copyright Council, and Arts Educators, Practitioners & Researchers Australia, as well as several universities.
NAAE wants to bring together all those advocates for STEAM and develop a new strategy for increasing the voice of the Arts in this country’s innovation agenda.
To keep up with current NAAE agendas and discussions about future activities, go to our NAAE Facebook page and join the conversation.
Julie Dyson – Chair
This year’s WDA Global Summit will be held from 23–28 July in St John’s, Newfoundland, a beautiful Canadian city on the east coast. Titled ‘Dancing from the Grassroots’, there will be many exciting events—performances, a conference including Pecha Kucha presentations, panel discussions and papers, and of course a Choreolab and master classes. We hope many Australians have made submissions to participate and look forward to once again having great representation from Australia at all events. Registrations will be open shortly.
Another opportunity available to Australian Ausdance members is the International Young Choreographer Program (ICYP), which offers fellowships to eight young artists: three from Taiwan, three from other Asia Pacific countries, and one each from WDA Europe and WDA Americas.
This year Australian Scott Ewen has been selected to participate in the ICYP. Scott attended the WDA Choreolab as a a highly regarded choreographer last year in Seoul. Congratulations Scott!
Ausdance members are automatically members of the WDA through Ausdance National’s partnership arrangement that includes publication of Asia Pacific Channels, access to choreographic fellowships, and discounted event attendance. Make sure you’re an Ausdance member before applying for any of these events.
As well as recovering from the ArtsPeak National Arts Election Debate six months ago, there has been ongoing work: following up with the Australia Council on the Service Organisations Scan (complete, to be released by the Australia Council in the first quarter of 2017); advocating for the arts courses that will be affected by the VET student loans proposal (ongoing); and continuing to voice the sector’s concerns about the impact of the 2015 budget changes. The Executive has also played a part in Arts Front, and is currently monitoring (with great interest) the new initiative for a Myer, Tim Fairfax Family and Keir Foundations cultural think tank.
Toronto, Canada, 11–12 Nov 2016
LEAP Together: Career and Life Transitions in Dance and Sport was one of the key initiatives of a pioneering partnership between Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) and Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), and is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
The conference included a wide diversity of stakeholders from the sport and dance sectors to learn and exchange knowledge on various topics related to transition for high performers – professional dancers and elite athletes.