You may remember this article in 'The Times' about bullying in the workplace, where dance was identified as the second worst offending industry.
Today's 'Times' has a letter on the theme by Jeanette Siddall in her role as Director of Dance UK, a membership organisation carrying out research and taking up issues on behalf of the dance profession.
Bullying at the workplace From the Director of Dance UK
Sir, You recently highlighted the relatively high incidence of bullying reported by dancers in research backed by the TUC (details, April 8).
Over the last ten years much has been learnt about the importance of psychology and attitude in training and preparation for high-level performance - in sport as much as in the arts. Dance UK's "Moving Matters" conferen ce in October aims to promote a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of dancers, through highlighting the latest research into exercise, injury prevention and diet, as well as the research into bullying at work.
The backgound to this "appliance of science" to the thinking about dance training, rehearsal and performance is a long tradition of concentrating on physical technique to the exclusion of all else. There was understood to be one right way of performing a step or sequence, and dancers were only bodies, with minds, hearts and souls detached. Such regimes are a breeding ground for a sense of being bullied and are, thankfully, fast disappearing.
Changing attitudes takes time, and the debate about the most effective teaching and learning methods in dance, as elsewhere in the business, education and professional sectors, continues.
Although dancers were the only performing artists included in the research, some of the lessons are applicable across all workplaces. There is growing evidence that democratic approaches that treat dancers, for example, as intelligent, responsible adults are at least as effective as shouting, and help to prevent injury and reduce stress.
Significantly, work which is highly competitive to achieve in the first place and likely to be short-term and poorly paid is hardly conducive to a sense of self-worth. Far from being treated like a "luvvie", the reality for too many dance artists is serial poverty.
Director, Dance UK,
Battersea Arts Centre,
Lavender Hill, SW11 5TF.