Most people can agree the first day at a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wrecking. My most memorable first day on the job so far has been the day I started with the previous Professional Ballet Company I worked with. Despite working at many jobs throughout the years, this one will forever be etched in my memory.
There was a lot of new territory to explore. I had left my permanent job with a great pension and health benefits behind to chase career goals. I was extremely unhappy in that secure job and was waiting for a new opportunity to come my way. So here I was, new to a larger city - arriving the day before starting. In hindsight, I recommend giving yourself some time to familiarize yourself to a new city with more than part of a day to find your way. But I was grateful for the support of co-workers and having some extra cash for finding parking downtown. The whole moving process was a bit of a blur as it was a rushed process from resigning from my previous job and accepting the new job offer. I had just thrown myself into this new venture.
New. This is not always a welcomed word. Most people don’t like new or anything surrounding change, especially when it comes to those who use their body as their instrument- their tool to be a professional and make a living. And here I was the new medical lead as a Physiotherapist for a Professional Ballet Company.
For those who have worked in Professional Dance or Performing Arts know the culture is unique. Don’t get me wrong - it is an amazing community, but it can also be a difficult community to navigate. The first day was an “Introduction” day - introducing to the location, the staff, the parents of the school, and the dancers. The team working alongside me were also all new to the scene and we were really all unsure of the journey ahead. We had met moments before any real formal introduction to the dancers. The medical programming had been extensively revamped from previous medical management with the hopes of improved medical service and better management of injuries. We were hopefully going to be accepted within this dance community and make a difference. The energy was palpable and the excitement of starting something new was evident.
First up - introduce yourself and the team to the training school - no script. Standing before the eager dancers of the school program and their parents who have sacrificed their hard earned money working towards their child’s dreams was no easy feat. Many of the dance students had also moved from all over Canada, the United States and other countries across the world. So there were large commitments from everyone involved. Pressure was on to make a decent first impression. I was not sure what I was going to say to instill trust and confidence in our new medical team. These dancers and parents looked onward at us with much hesitation.
Next up - introduce yourself to the company - minimal script only because moments before I had scribbled a few “cheat notes” following the school introductions. The company members looked cautiously at me with a lot of apprehension. Who is this new Physiotherapist that was before them. Can we trust her? What does she know? I liked “so and so” better... What does she know about dance? Gaining trust was going to take some time. There was also a complicated history I knew nothing about, as well as hidden dynamics and tense politics luring in the background.
Dance communities are filled with history and political dynamics that are not well understood unless you are immersed in them. I know these dynamics exist in other sports, work environments and activities, but the dance community is rooted in a lot of old traditions that threaten utilizing the current research, new methods and changed management of their health and wellness. Old methods continue to be followed despite new and growing evidence for other strategies. Realizing I had a lot of barriers to overcome and hard work to effectively assist this Professional Dance Company left me excited, anxious, and ready for the challenge. But, the dancers and management were left skeptical. Breaking down barriers became my new role - whether it was welcomed or not.
Hello, I am Sara Lawson, the NEW Medical Lead Physiotherapist. Bring on the barriers and hard work!
Clinic Director and Dance Physiotherapist, Sara Lawson has a special interest in artistic athletes and dance medicine. Sara has worked as a Physiotherapist for many years with a variety of high end athletes, performing artists, and in a variety of fields of Physiotherapy. Join her in exploring behind the scenes of performance and dance Physiotherapy as a clinician and business owner. Behind the Curtain is meant to be an informative, raw, and open platform discussing the challenges and rewards of this industry where the show must always go on.