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Insight into my dancing journey

Karen Palmer // 31st July 2023


As I enter into my new venture with Performing Arts Development, with all the challenges that brings, I thought it would be good to delve into my journey and the reason why I am following this current path.

I followed the same route as many have in the dancing world. Ballet, modern, tap, at a local dance school then headed off to dance college. I was lucky enough to go to what was considered a good dance school with forward thinking teachers, but still had injuries during my teenage years, like most of my friends. These injuries followed me to college where they got worse and with the time being what it was back then, when anyone was injured, they had to sit on a cold, hard floor and watch classes. Looking back, this was by no means a reflection of my teachers, more a reflection of the lack of knowledge and understanding all those years ago.

Fast forward a bit to my dancing years touring Italy and the beautiful country that it is and enjoying Germany for 3 months. I was happy to go along with an early warm-up only to get cold again, or even no warm-up when touring as there simply wasn’t the time or space. Given my background and injury history, this unsurprisingly left me with more back problems. So off I go to a physio who was well respected and a chiropractor who was recommended, but neither dance specialists, and after several sessions and a lot of money later I was informed that if I continue to dance, I might end up in a wheelchair when I am older!! Well, I was in my early 20’s at this stage and that was a scary thing to be told and as I didn’t know any better so trusted their opinion, that was the end of my performing career. How did I feel? Gutted, and in all honesty, I struggled to go and watch dance performances for a long time. Like, my teachers, I placed no blame with the professionals, they were doing their job to the best of their knowledge with little understanding supplementary training. So, I accepted it and moved onto teaching the next generation.

My teaching career began and I loved passing on my passion for dance to others, however, strength and conditioning was not on the radar. Having also worked in a gym I endeavoured to do some exercises with some students which was challenging due to limited class time, but I realised the value in working with the students in this way. This curiosity stayed with me as I juggled family life and diverted my career to a BA in dance Education, where I taught dance in primary and secondary education as well as managing community and charity dance events. Fast forward again and we come to the joy that was COVID and all my work/projects came to a halt. However, some things are meant to be as an opportunity came up to study Dance Science at Trinity Laban, a course that I had seen, desperately wanted to do, but did not think I would be able to do for a few years. Not a chance I wanted to pass up as it was everything I wanted to learn about. The programme did not disappoint, with all now falling into place. Not only did I gain invaluable skills that I was passionate about, it made me reflect upon my training and the impact dance science could have had on my dancing career. Far from being upset that my dancing was short lived, the MSc encouraged me to go on and learn more, so did a level 4 strength and conditioning and menopause and training course.

I am now passionate about disseminating what I have learnt to dancers at every stage of their career, starting where I did at the grass roots level and Performing Arts Development was established . Giving more knowledge to teachers, to pass onto their students, and dancers to be able to help elongate their own careers and navigate it safely for longevity. Encouraging performers and educators to ask questions, to want to challenge and work with traditions and make new ways of working to improve dance environments across the sector.



Performing Arts Development Ltd.

Company Number: 11432031 // Registered Office: 20-22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU

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