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Performance enhancement coach Nico Kolokythas: ‘Seek knowledge and ask questions’

Nico Kolokythas. Photo: Elmhurst Ballet School Nico Kolokythas. Photo: Elmhurst Ballet School
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How did you start off in dance?
A sequence of coincidences: I was walking the path to my office thinking of an exit strategy from my position at the University of Wolverhampton as a strength and conditioning coach when a door opened on my left and a voice said: “Would you like to do a PhD in dance?” Walking through that door proved to be one of the best decisions I have made.

What is your best advice for students today?
Knowledge is power, but knowledge without critical thinking is infertile thought. Seek knowledge and ask questions, including annoying questions.

What would you change about UK training?
Children are weaker than they were 20 years ago. One factor is technology and another is the lack of free play time. I would like to see a conscious effort to change this for the sake of future people in general – not just dancers.

What is the best part of your job?
The word ‘pedagogy’ in ancient Greek means “to raise the spirit of the youth”. I feel honoured to contribute to the spiritual and physical development of young dancers. An example of that would be the efforts currently taking place in vocational education to safeguard the health and well-being of young dancers. Thanks to an ongoing partnership between Elmhurst Ballet School and the University of Wolverhampton, initiatives such as the 11+ dance injury prevention workout are being positively received in the sector both nationally and internationally.

And your least favourite?
Realising that something I thought would be a great success with the students is actually not.

Which practitioners do you admire the most and who should students look up to?
Martha Graham was considered the avant-garde of her time in the way she looked at dancer training. Times having moved on, I would say any practitioner today who is equally prepared to challenge thinking and practice.

What one skill should every successful theatre/dance professional have?
Reflective practice.

How to choose the best training for a contemporary dance career

Nico Kolokythas is performance enhancement coach at Elmhurst Ballet School. He was talking to John Byrne

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