Back in 2013, we spoke to Kim Hutt, a Graduate Sports Therapist from London Metropolitan University, who had just started her new lecturing position in Physical Support at the London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS). Her new role followed a number of years teaching on the BSc(Hons) and MSc courses at London Met, during which time she helped to develop and set up the BSc(Hons) Sport and Dance Therapy Course there.
Kim talked about her role in those early days and said:
‘My job is to look after the physical wellbeing of students and prepare them for their future careers. It includes teaching anatomy, body conditioning and injury prevention as well as treating injuries and observing classes to see if students are displaying any signs of injury or to advise teachers on how to reduce injury through their teaching methods.’
So we were delighted to catch up with Kim, who is now Head of Physical Support at LCDS, to hear news about where her work has taken her since those early days, including news of UK recognition for Kim and her team at LCDS, recently winning the One Dance UK* Healthcare Team Award. This is an award for an interdisciplinary team – including medical, scientific, artistic and managerial – that works together to provide effective treatment, rehabilitation and training programmes for their dancers.
How did being nominated and receiving the award come about? What will it mean for you and your team going forward?
The inaugural One Dance UK Awards 2018 were advertised within the dance sector and I was extremely flattered to note that it was support from our students that led to us being nominated and shortlisted for the award. A panel of judges then considered the nominations and selected the winner.
It is extremely rewarding for us as we are a very small team with even more limited resources (when compared to other large dance schools and competitors), but it demonstrated that despite these limitations, we are managing to provide a high standard of injury and rehabilitation support for our dance students. I have heard through One Dance UK that the nominations were really heartfelt and meaningful. This made our award even more special.
You have recently presented at a number of international conferences. Can you tell us about the experiences?
I presented in Basil, Switzerland, at the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science annual meeting, where I spoke about an intervention I investigated on dancers’ balance and I also recently presented in Poznan, Poland, where I spoke about dancers’ fitness, injury and periodisation.
I also had the chance to discuss my experiences of working with dancers with disabilities and the importance of safe dance practice in this population, on a panel at the ‘Accessing pathways to training for disabled dancers’ conference at the University of Bedfordshire.
We spoke to you a number of years ago as you were beginning your role at the London Contemporary Dance School – where has your career taken you since then? What have you been working on?
I spent a number of years finding my feet in the job. Over the past 6 years I have developed excellent professional relationships with external consultants and hospitals, such as the team at the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science and The Institute of Sports and Exercise Health.
I have developed physical support within the school to provide pre-participation screening for all new dance students, following which we provide individual exercise prescription. I have introduced termly fitness testing, which allows me to correlate findings with injury data.
My most recent work involves introducing principles of periodisation in to the three year dance curriculum to enhance physical and psychological well-being. I have been collaborating with researchers from The University of Wolverhampton and Elmhurst Ballet School, introducing an injury prevention intervention for our students. I now regularly guest lecture on dance injuries and biomechanics at various universities around the country.
What made you want to become a Sports Therapist and why dance?
I trained at The Royal Ballet School and Central School of Ballet, both elite dance schools, so dance is part of who I am. During my training, I sustained a number of injuries and became interested in injury management. After a short stint as a personal trainer, I studied Sports Therapy at London Metropolitan University. Throughout the degree, in my mind I always related everything back to dance treatment and rehab. After graduating, I became a lecturer in Sports Therapy, while studying an MSc in Dance Science at Trinity Laban. This combination of knowledge led to me developing a degree called BSc (Hons) Sports and Dance Therapy, which is still running at London Metropolitan University.
What are your main areas of interest/research in dance?
I love diagnostics! Working out what an injury might be and what might be contributing to that injury just fascinates me. I constantly learn about injuries; you never stop learning in this job. I also still love teaching, although lectures now are about safe dance practice and I teach dancers how to look after their bodies throughout their degree and further work. I love collecting and analysing data (although I'm terrible at statistics...someone does that job for me). Actually, I love it all!
What do you enjoy most about being a Sports Therapist and working with dancers?
My students! They are just the loveliest group of people you could wish to work with.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a Sports Therapist?
I feel there can still be a lack of respect and understanding from other professions about what a Sports Therapist is and can do. I believe the recent award demonstrates just how good Sports Therapists are (we have two Sports Therapists on the team, an Osteopath and a Massage Therapist). However, excitingly, I was recently at my GP and when discussing my case, he suggested I see a Sports Therapist! Things are moving in the right direction!
What do you like to do in your down time?
I am a keen Ironman Triathlete and have just registered for the Marathon Des Sable. Downtime isn't really a thing, although I certainly spend my fair share of time relaxing at home and going out to eat.
What advice would you give to any newly graduated Sports Therapists or those who are about to graduate who want to work in dance?
Dance is a really difficult area of work to get in to. Be entrepreneurial. Look for every work experience opportunity. Show an interest. Network. Don't stop trying...ever!
*One Dance UK is ‘the sector support organisation leading the way to a stronger, more vibrant and diverse dance sector.’ The annual awards event is ‘an opportunity for people in the industry to unite, celebrate, acknowledge and recognise ‘the outstanding contribution of people working in dance.’ www.onedanceuk.org
Congratulations Kim – you really are making a fantastic impact on the dance world, showcasing just how relevant your skills are as a Sports Therapist. We wish you, your team and your dancers continued success.