DCD Executive Director Jennifer Curry appointed new President of IOTPD

The Board and Associates of the International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD) have voted unanimously to appoint Jennifer Curry, Executive Director of Dancers’ Career Development, as President. 

Jennifer succeeds Paul Bronkhorst, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Omscholing Dansers. Paul has served as President of the IOTPD for over a decade, succeeding Founding President Philippe Braunschweig. During his tenure, the IOTPD has grown from six organizations supporting dancers through career transition to a community of 10 countries, spanning Europe, North America and East Asia. Since 2015 the IOTPD has awarded six Philippe Braunschweig grants each worth 3000 euro directly to professional dancers around the world. The IOTPD has also produced a toolkit for new transition programs and hosted numerous successful global conferences.  

Paul has worked tirelessly as an advocate for career transition for dancers and has pioneered the development and growth of the IOTPD. Paul will remain on the IOTPD Board as Executive Director Omscholing Dansers, based in the Netherlands, a founding IOTPD member country.  

Paul says: “Leading an organization like the IOTPD has always felt a huge privilege. And, although slowly, it is encouraging to see the growing number of countries that understand the concept and benefits of support to dancers facing the inevitable end of their performing careers. International collaboration expands the possibilities to empower dancers worldwide” 

Jennifer Curry is a senior leader in the dance sector with experience working with and for professional dancers spanning over a decade. She has been Executive Director of Dancers’ Career Development in the UK, the first transition programme for dancers worldwide, for over seven years. Jennifer will take up the role on 1st June 2022.  

Jennifer says: I am honoured and humbled to have been voted to serve the IOTPD as President. I look forward to working with colleagues around the world to continue to advocate for and directly support professional dancers throughout career transition. Through many years of dedicated service, Paul Bronkhorst has positively impacted the lives of thousands of dancers worldwide and on behalf of all Board and Associates at IOTPD we thank him wholeheartedly for his commitment and many achievements”  

About the International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers 

 The IOTPD was formed in 1993 with a mission to alleviate the challenges that professional dancers face worldwide when transitioning to a post-dance career. It strives to raise awareness of dancer transition and develop viable methods of meeting the needs of dancers across the globe. The IOTPD acts as an international umbrella organization coordinating with existing dancer transition centres worldwide to support research and advocacy initiatives, with the goal that every professional dancer will be equipped to make successful transitions.

Media Contact: 

Paul Bronkhorst IOTPD President
T: +31 6 11 30 22 30
E: PhBGrant@iotpd.org
www.iotpd.org 

Mental Health Awareness Week

Everyone has Mental Health, which changes along a spectrum from mental ill health to mental wellbeing. This changes during the course of a year, a month, a day or I know for me even in minutes sometimes. All kinds of factors impact our Mental Health; some we have more control over than others. We understand the circumstances that dancers live and work. There is no doubt that mental wellbeing is vital for dancers to lead fulfilled careers and lives. The enormous impact of the pandemic that continues to be felt by our community makes it essential now more than ever.  

DCD are champions of empowering dancers to make active choices in shaping your lives to able to show up as your best selves. This takes daily practice, something I myself am practicing and some days go better than others. The DCD team have kindly shared with us some of the ways that they take care of their mental wellbeing day to day.  So if nothing else, I hope you can take 2 minutes today to bring some awareness to how you take care of your mental wellbeing.   

  1. Rest & Sleep! We were all very inspired this week by Brene Brown’s announcement to take a sabbatical, prioritising the call for rest, over the call to work. Of course extended time off comes with privilege, but what small gifts of rest can you prioritise for yourself when you need it?  
  2. Cooking and eating a favourite or new healthy meal 
  3. Reading a novel or listening to a Podcast episode
  4. Practicing Mindfulness or Meditation 
  5. Journaling or writing a list of 3 things I’m grateful for if that’s all I have time to do
  6. Talking to someone friend/colleague/family without any solutions. Just being listened to.
  7. Exercising, either getting outside or doing something fun with friends 
  8. Do any of the above outside! Being with nature and fresh air is food for the soul.
  9. Take a moment to check in & notice, am I prioritising my own needs? What do I need? Quieten the noise of expectations. Then make any adjustments to my mind-set, or adjust my plans in order to give myself what I need. Coaching helps me do this too. Click here to find out about DCD free coaching service
  10. Asking for help. Communicate how you are feeling with someone you trust or feel safe with, communicate what you need to someone. 
  11. Give yourself permission, to take your time, not be productive, not to have the answer, to be and accept yourself where you are at. 
  12.  Self-Care – take a bath with bubbles and candles and music, paint your nails, do a face mask. Take care of those feet! Have a massage. 
  13. Spend time with people you love. Hug someone. Cuddles with your pet!
  14.  Take up a hobby/learn something new. Try something that you aren’t good at (this is more fun with other people). Give yourself permission to have fun with all the pressure off! 
  15. Looking at photos/reminiscing of happy memories or listening to music that makes me feel good
  16. Seek Medical and Professional Support

If you are experiencing mental ill health symptoms (find out more here) that are persistent and prolonged (more than 2 weeks) you can seek professional and medical support by contacting your GP. DCD staff are not therapists but there’s some incredible organisations out there with those skill sets and we’ve listed some of them for you below. 

Free therapy for current and retired dancers: 

https://www.bapam.org.uk/counselling-dance-professionals-bapam-and-dance-professionals-fund/ 

Mental Health Charities: 

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/  

https://www.mind.org.uk/  

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/  

https://sidebyside.mind.org.uk/  

https://www.samaritans.org/  

https://mhfaengland.org/  

https://hubofhope.co.uk/  

Support for Black, African, Asian, Caribbean Heritage Communities: 

https://www.blackmindsmatteruk.com/  

https://www.theempowermentgroup.co.uk/  

https://www.baatn.org.uk/  

Support for LGBTQ+ Community: 

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/wellbeing  

https://www.pinktherapy.com/  

https://www.beaumontsociety.org.uk/transgender-counselling.html  

https://www.transunite.co.uk/  

An interactive check in guide for people who struggle with self-care, executive dysfunction, and/or have trouble reading internal signals:  

https://philome.la/jace_harr/you-feel-like-shit-an-interactive-self-care-guide/play/index.html  

Lucy Glover
DCD Support and Programmes Manager: Inclusion and Impact Lead and Mental Health First Aider.

 

What to expect at a Skills for Living webinar

We’ve had lots of questions recently on what is involved in an online webinar, so this post aims to demystify and break down any barriers you may have about what to expect.

 

What is an ACT3 Skills for Living webinar?

DCD’s unique Skills for Living online workshop, in partnership with and developed by ACT3 Psychology, are designed to provide you, as a professional dancer with psychological skills to help you navigate the challenges of your career. The online sessions are fun and creative and will focus on teaching you how to use a full range of ACT techniques, that can be applied to a range of life challenges.

 

How long is the session?

The workshop is 1.5 hours long.

 

What do I need to have at hand?

Mainly an internet connection and to be in a space where you can engage. Somewhere quiet and comfortable without distraction. You can also bring along paper and a pen. But don’t worry, we will send the slides to you afterwards to keep.

 

Who runs the webinar?

These particular webinars are led by former Royal Ballet Principal dancer Jaimie Tapper and Ross McIntosh, Organisational Psychologists and experts in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

 

Are these webinars for me?

These sessions are open to ALL current and former professional dancers who have worked in the UK regardless of genre, age and location.

 

How much does it cost?

These sessions are FREE to all UK Dance professionals.

 

How do I join the webinar?

All you need to do is register here for the session you would like to attend and we will send you the link to join. All sessions will take place via Zoom. For any access needs please contact dancers@thedcd.org.uk, we will be happy to support you.

 

What happens in the webinar?

Jaimie and Ross will demonstrate how to use the ACT model to build psychological flexibility, creativity and resilience. The session is a mixture of group discussion / sharing, listening and personal reflection. We aim to bring the concepts we are discussing to life using imagery, personal stories, metaphor and research evidence.

 

Do I have to talk?

Participation is encouraged but not mandatory. If you have any questions or concerns during the session but don’t want to talk, you can always send a message via Chat or alternatively as a private DM to Ross or Jaimie if you would like to remain anonymous.

 

Do I have to turn on my camera?

Cameras on is encouraged in order to get the most out of the workshop. It’s always lovely to see faces and we do feel it’s more engaging to be able to connect visually. You do not have to have it on if this is a barrier for you to engage, we understand individuals have different access needs, and we are all experiencing online fatigue. If you have your camera off please use Zoom’s chat function and Reaction buttons to engage.

 

Is anything expected of me?

Just turning up is a great step. We never pressure anyone to contribute but value the insights participants bring and help bring the topics to life. Workshop participants are invited to take part in ways that work for them, by joining the discussions, commenting and posing questions for us in the chat and just by listening and taking in the information. Whatever you feel comfortable with.

 

Is the webinar available publicly?

No, the session is totally confidential.

 

Am I allowed to attend more than one session?

Yes! You can register for as many sessions as you like throughout your career. You can also register for our other workshops like EVOLVE, alongside our ACT3 Skills for Living sessions.

 

How often are the webinars?

Online sessions have been run monthly. Friday 25th March 2022 is our final session in this series. We are planning on running both online and in-person sessions in the near future. Keep checking back to our calendar page on the DCD website or sign up to our newsletter, as we will be updating the ACT3 Skills for Living events page soon.

 

What happens after the webinar?

After the session you will be sent the slides from the workshop. We always provide further resources for anyone who would like to delve more deeply into the topics we discuss. We have also recently introduced follow up sessions where you will be invited to join us for a shorter session to recap and delve more deeply into how the skills and techniques you have learned are helping you and any challenges you’ve encountered putting them into practice.

 

Will you be doing in-person workshops? 

The online webinars have been really successful so we will continue to run these sessions virtually ongoing. Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with up-coming ACT3 Skills for Living webinars and workshops when they are announced.

 

I’m still unsure whether this is for me . . . 

Here’s some feedback from our previous attendees about their experiences. . .

‘The session provided a safe and communal space that allowed you to ask questions or shares doubts without fear of judgement.’ DCD Supported Dancer

‘The “matrix” we learnt was super helpful, having a structure to work with is a great tool to keep referring to.’ Skills for Living participant

‘The tools and insight given in the workshop were very useful and helpful in these times.’ Former DCD Partner Company dancer

You can also contact us at dancers@thedcd.org.uk where we can assist you and answer any questions you may still have.

 

We would love to hear from you

If you have topics in mind for the next series or any feedback on how to improve these sessions for you, we would really love to hear from you dancers@thedcd.org.uk

 

Would you like to attend our next ACT3 Skills for Living webinar?

Book now for our last ACT3 Skills for Living webinar of the series ‘Being your best self (a bit more often)’ on Friday 25th March 1:30pm-3:00pm. Find out more here and book your place by clicking this link here.

 

We also run exclusive ACT3 workshops for our DCD Partner Company dancers. To find out more speak to lucy@thedcd.org.uk.

Gratitude

Recently, I have tried to practice gratitude in tangible ways – usually through daily journaling about what I am grateful for or conversations around the dinner table with family. As the year comes to an end, I wanted to share some reflections on what I am grateful for at DCD in 2021.

•Dancers: I am continually grateful to work with and for dancers. To be part of the team that steward DCD is a privilege. The resilience, creativity and courage of dancers, particularly through this unprecedented time, has been inspirational. I am grateful to the dancers who engage in our work and grateful to those who are curious to learn more. I’m grateful to those who give honest and open feedback, which we welcome wholeheartedly.

•DCD Team: I continue to be inspired and grateful for all those involved with DCD, including our dedicated Board of Trustees and Grants Committee, staff team and freelancers. This small and passionate team have worked tirelessly to support over 3,000 dancers from across the sector since March 2020. I am delighted to have welcomed new members to the Board and Grants Committee, as well as new staff members, who will each bring new perspectives, lived experiences and energy to DCD.

•Funders and Partners: Since 1st April 2020, DCD has awarded over £450,000 to dancers including just under £150,000 to freelance and independent artists. This, along with our other free programmes of support, would not have been possible without the gracious and generous support of our funders and partners. I am grateful for the conversations and collaboration.

•Inspiring stories: This year I have observed a number of EVOLVE Digital and Skills for Living Workshops, which have been attended by over 250 dancers. The environment our exceptional facilitators create where dancers feel safe to share thoughts and feelings is a truly special one. Hearing the stories of our guest speakers from around the world and their messages to dancers has been a joy. I am grateful to all those who deliver, contribute and participate in our programmes for sharing their precious ideas and experiences with the DCD community.

As we move towards DCD’s 50th Anniversary in 2023, there is much more to do and we have big ideas for the future. As DCD navigates this journey, I will continue to be grateful for every conversation and connection that gives us the opportunity to do better for all dancers. Thank you for being here for us and for each other as part of the DCD community.

Jennifer Curry, Executive Director, Dancers’ Career Development.

 

 

What to Expect at a DCD Evolve Digital Workshop

At the outbreak of the pandemic last year, we acted quickly to make sure that dancers could continue to access our EVOLVE workshops, especially at a time when DCD’s work supporting dancers through professional and personal change has never been more essential.

Our EVOLVE workshops were reformatted for the digital space, becoming EVOLVE Digital – a series of free, online career development workshops for all dancers in the UK, facilitated by DCD Director of Coaching, Isabel Mortimer.

Here’s what you can expect:

Attending DCD’s EVOLVE workshop can be a really powerful experience, wherever you are in your dance career. You will meet dancers from different backgrounds and at different stages of their career.

You will hear from inspirational speakers about their own personal experience of career transition and we share some tools and models that help you to understand a bit more about the emotions, reactions and mindsets that can occur during transition.

The session is a mixture of group discussion, sharing, listening, personal reflection, visioning exercises and break out rooms.

They are 3.5 hour workshops held over zoom and include a 20 minute break.

The sessions are totally confidential and Isabel creates a non-judgemental and supportive space for all.

We encourage interaction, while also respecting individuals’ right to observe and limit their engagement as they need to. There is no expectation for you to say, contribute or do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. You may choose to turn your camera on or off – you are encouraged to look after your wellbeing and to let the facilitator or DCD staff member know if you have any needs we can support you with both before, during or after the session e.g. if you’d rather not be put into breakout rooms.

As part of our commitment to making our workshops accessible to all, the workshops have summary notes that are shared with participants afterwards. This should allow you the space to be present in the session, safe in the knowledge that comprehensive notes are being made for you.  We are happy to also accommodate any other accessibility needs any dancer might have.

Participants have said they found the workshops “very inspiring, insightful – I felt connected and heard again. Super important to lift our spirits up collectively, given all the uncertainty around us” and “an incredibly fulfilling and energising afternoon. I gained a clarity I didn’t even think was possible.”

Look out for the next EVOLVE Digital workshop on Friday 9th July: ‘Anything is possible, dreaming big’, which explores how, as dancers, we can embrace our resourcefulness and continue to dream big.

Book your place by clicking here or click here to find out more.

 

This programme is kindly supported by the Royal Opera House Benevolent Fund and DCD Partner Companies.

Guest Blog – Crystal Nicholls

Taking the Blinders Off

When theatres closed in March last year, I had six weeks left of my contract with Disney’s The Lion King.

I had been in the show for six years and had finally decided to move on. I already had another gig lined up and was about to start rehearsals. The truth is, I was exhausted, and welcomed what I thought would be a two-week break.

It soon became clear to all of us that this would go on much longer than we anticipated. As the lockdown went on, and the dates for my gig were pushed back further and further, I became nervous, anxious and scared. I was scared that my gig would be cancelled. I was scared of blowing through my savings and not making any money. And I was scared of losing my identity.

For most of my life, I identified as a dancer. Who was I now that I wasn’t taking class or on stage, or doing auditions? What was my identity now? The uncertainty was the most frustrating part–I felt like I was in limbo.

One day I was listening to my favourite podcast–The Model Health Show–and the host spoke about the need for nutrition and health coaches. He said that now more than ever, people needed leaders who could transform their lives and show them how to sustain their bodies through the pandemic and beyond.

The thing is, I always loved nutritional science. I listened to this podcast religiously, and I was always reading up on the latest research, sharing what I learned with family and friends. I just never knew or thought it was possible to have a career in it.

Like most dancers, I had blinders on. I couldn’t see beyond my dancer identity, and with the hectic west end schedule of eight shows a week and one day off, I never had the time or energy to develop any of my interests past a general curiosity.

But now I had time. And energy. So I did something about it. I did lots of research into nutrition coaching and enrolled in the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. What I loved most about their program is the fact that they described nutrition as anything that feeds you–physically, mentally and spiritually. These three pillars make up the foundation of heath, and without one, the foundation cannot be strong.

This stood out for me because as a dancer, I was always so focused on my physical health, and completely neglected my mental and spiritual health. I spent years beating myself up and speaking to myself unkindly. I never felt like I was good enough–even when I was performing in the biggest West End show. I didn’t see the value of balance, of mindset, or self-care, because I didn’t think those things mattered. But I realise that if I had known then what I know now, my journey would have been much more joyful and fulfilling.

In January of this year, I finished my course and graduated as a fully certified Transformational Nutrition Coach. My mission is to teach other artists how to achieve a balance in their lives, so they can achieve their career goals without losing themselves. It has been deeply fulfilling work to coach other artists one on one and give them the tools, support and encouragement I only wish I had received sooner.

I want to tell other artists that it is ok to take your blinders off and explore your other interests, talents and passions. No one in this world is passionate about just one thing. We are artists, yes, but we are human beings first, and it will do us a world of good to remember that.

 

Click here to book your place for the EVOLVE Digital workshop this Thursday 5 August, 10:30 – 2pm and hear first-hand from Crystal: ‘How to get out of your own way, manage negative thoughts, and step into courage’ 

Free, online workshop guiding dancers through managing energy and enhancing wellbeing at this time.

 

Crystal Nicholls Coaching

Credit:
Credit: Mark Mcgee.

 

Guest Blog – Sara Dos Santos

Post- Studies Reflections
Original Blog – https://www.saradossantos.com/post/graduation-2021

Career Transition isn’t easy, but the interpersonal and financial support from Dancers’ Career Development offered me a chance to take a risk and step out into the unknown.

I’m Sara Dos Santos, a Cultural Producer, Strategist, and Artist with a Dance, Theatre, and Movement direction background. Having recently completed my Masters in Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy at Goldsmiths University, I look forward to getting stuck in and shifting invisible boundaries and raise the profile of unrepresented voices in the UK and beyond.

The last two years of part-time study, while freelancing and navigating global chaos, was made a little more accessible through the support of Dancer’s Career Development.

I stumbled upon Dancers’ Career Development (DCD) several years ago, during a One Dance UK conference held at Trinity Laban. I attended because a role model of mine, Ingrid MacKinnon – an artist and co-founder of Movespace, participated in one of their panel discussions. Long story short, I got in touch with DCD, attended their EVOLVE workshop(s), had one-to-one sessions with Isabel Mortimer and went to a few other events, which eventually led me to apply for a retraining grant.

The financial support received by DCD offered me a moment to breathe and confidence in my new research area. Not only because someone else believed in me, but also because they were willing to invest in my future – this was paramount for me and propelled me forward with a spring in my step.

As I stand now looking back on what once felt like an impossible dream, I step once again into the unknown with great expectation that the best years are ahead.

Here’s to a future that demands us not to give up and offers us a chance to adapt, unlearn to relearn, step out of our comfort zone and build each other up!

Feature By:
Sara Dos Santos

www.saradossantos.com