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Maria Kolitsida wins One Dance UK’s Science & Research in Dance Award!

Today we are bringing you the brilliant news that on Saturday, the 10th of February, Maria Kolitsida, PhD Student in the SPRINT Project, won the Science and Research in Dance Award at One Dance UK’s Annual Awards!

Everyone in the SPRINT Project is so proud of Maria’s fantastic achievement, which is reflective of her dedication to advancing the knowledge around dance freelancers’ mental health and wellbeing.

Image description: Photo of Maria celebrating with her One Dance UK Award.

One Dance UK are a UK wide support organisation, who strive to create a positive future for the UK dance community. One Dance UK members gain access to expert guidance, promotional and networking opportunities, training and development, and dance specific resources.

This year the One Dance UK Awards were held at The Box, in FarGo Village, Coventry, where the UK dance community came together to praise, reward, and celebrate the individuals who bring about positive impact to the UK dance scene. This includes the extraordinary work done by dancers and dance teachers, practitioners, educators, writers, and choreographers, as well as researchers, schools, companies, and venues.


Check out the quote from Maria below, where she reflects upon her experience of the Awards ceremony:

"One Dance UK organised a magical night to celebrate the achievements of the dance sector. To be nominated and then shortlisted for the Science and Research in Dance Award alongside Dr Gemma Harman, Dr Kathryn Stamp and Dr Karen Wood was an honour, and I am forever inspired by their work.
I believe that receiving this award is not just a recognition of my work, but the wider work the dance sector is now doing to protect its most vulnerable members, including dance freelancers and this excites and fills me with hope.
Receiving such a meaningful award at this early stage in my research journey would not have been possible without the support of the SPRINT Project and the help of my supervisors Professor Jennifer Cumming, Dr Anna Lavis and Erin Sanchez. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by these inspiring women in science and research who act as role models helping me develop into an ethical and rigorous researcher throughout my PhD.
I am grateful to every single participant who took part in this piece of work helping me showcase the impact the pandemic has had to their mental health and wellbeing. Moreover, it is important to note the behind the scenes work of many dance shareholders who collaborated with me to help me develop this research and consulted with me on how to create change based on my findings. Finally, a big thank you to One Dance UK for championing my work, giving me a platform to hopefully inspire change, and supporting me every step of the way."

Image description: Photo of Maria celebrating with her One Dance UK Award.


So, what is Maria’s award-winning research about?

Maria’s recent research has focused on how dance freelancers describe their mental health and wellbeing in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using interviews, Maria’s research highlighted how the pandemic and its restrictions to daily life amplified existing job-related challenges (e.g., financial instability) and negatively impacted upon dancers. But it also had positive effects, in which it offered opportunities to rest, build social connections, and develop new skills.

She overcame challenges in participant recruitment and data collection during the pandemic to interview six freelancers, who occupied a variety of roles within the dance industry. These participants shared their thoughts and emotions on the role played by the pandemic in their mental health, but also what the key opportunities and challenges for experiencing well-being post-COVID-19 restrictions were. Maria analysed the rich interview data and identified three main themes: (1) COVID-19, the Great Amplifier; (2) Re-adapting to an Ever-Changing Norm; and (3) The Pause.

Overall, her research demonstrated the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic on the lives of freelancers and the increased risks it presented to their mental health. It highlighted the mental health impacts of precarious working conditions that also extends to freelancers, and the important role of having agency over one’s work situation, and trust in employers.

Maria wrote an academic paper on this research which was published in the Journal of Dance Education's Special Issue on Mental, Emotional, and Physical Health and Wellness of Dancers. You can access it here.

Image description: Photo of Maria celebrating with her One Dance UK Award.


You can follow Maria on X (Twitter) here to see her reactions to winning the One Dance UK's Science and Research in Dance Award, and check out her recent blog post on the practical implications of her research here.


Photo credit: Maria Kolitsida.

Written by Maria Kolitsida, PhD Researcher in the SPRINT Project, and Dr Sally Reynard, Postdoctoral Researcher in the SPRINT Project.

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