March 1, 2021

UCalgary first in Canada to offer a teaching certificate in safe dance principles alongside degree

Healthy Dance Practice Certificate adds more value to program's strong science focus
Dance major Kaili Che performs in a choreography by Heather Ware for Dance@Night, 2019. Tim Nguyen Co. photo

Safe in Dance International is an organization that promotes and endorses safe and effective dance practice worldwide by providing a range of Healthy Dance Certificates.

After learning that university dance programs could apply to become registered providers of the Healthy Dance Practice Certificate (HDPC), Dr. Sarah Kenny, PhD, assistant professor in the faculties of Kinesiology and Arts, worked with the Dance division to bring the certificate to the University of Calgary.

“I wanted to give our students the possibility to pursue a teaching certificate, alongside their degree, that is specifically designed to integrate safe dance practice principles both in their own dance practice, and in their teaching practice as well,” explains Kenny, whose research focuses on injury prevention among dancers.

Opportunity unique in Canada

The Dance division was able to embed the HDPC curriculum in related university courses. In 2018, the first dance students registered for the certificate, which has to be completed in two years. Kaili Che, BFA’19, is the first UCalgary student to complete the certificate.

The certificate program offers a unique opportunity that no other undergraduate dance program in Canada offers. Along with the combined undergraduate degree program, the Bachelor of Kinesiology/Bachelor of Arts (Dance), the UCalgary dance program is also growing in reputation for its strong dance science focus, of which this certificate is a part.

“I found many benefits in taking the certification simultaneously with my degree,” says Che. “I received feedback from current practitioners and researchers within the dance science field and had access to resources offered to students.”

Multiple benefits for students and educators

Che highlights that the certificate program taught her to improve her mental, physical and environmental well-being not only as a performer but also as a choreographer and educator.

The benefits of the certificate reach much further than only the individual dancers. Kenny notes that some students who teach in the community are so excited to implement what they are learning in class with their own dance students.

“It is well-established in the dance medicine and science community that one of the most direct strategies to improve the health of the dancer is through education and good teaching,” says Kenny. “It excites me that our UCalgary dance majors are part of the generational change that is normalizing safe dance practice within our dance communities.”

Che confirms that as she continues her career, she wants to be able to inspire the next generation of dancers to be mindful of safe dance practices.

Safe Dance Practice

Sarah Kenny teaches Safe Dance Practice, a course that is part of the Healthy Dance Practice Certificate curriculum, in 2019.