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  • Writer's pictureSPRINT project

The SPRINT Project welcomes a new PhD Researcher!

I’m Michelle Schachtler Dwarika and I am so excited and honoured to introduce myself as a new PhD student and member of the SPRINT team.

My PhD will focus on freelance dancers’ mental skills and developing a mental skills program that can improve their mental well-being and self-regulatory skills. Maybe unsurprisingly, the topic of the PhD aligns nicely with my keen interest in dancers’ mental health, resilience and mental skills training.

Prior to coming to Birmingham to pursue this PhD, I have lived in Norway for 16 years where I have gained my bachelor and master of arts in theatre and performance arts at the University of Oslo. Upon graduation, I have started to teach dance and theatre in pre-schools and primary schools in and around Oslo and gained my teaching qualification in 2017. However, being more and more interested in dancers’ health and missing the research aspect in my work, I decided to pursue a master of advanced studies (MAS) in dance science at the University of Bern in my native country Switzerland. I had a wonderful time (despite working full-time and travelling between Switzerland and Norway once or twice a month) and felt right at home in the dance science field.

After gaining the MAS in dance science, I’ve been fortunate to work as a research assistant and program coordinator under Dr. Heidi Haraldsen at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. During that time, we have worked on the Resilience and Ethics in Dance (REDE) project, authored a scoping review on dancers’ mental health (read the scoping review here) and created a webportal that disseminates our research findings (visit the webportal here). During that time, I have also authored two curricula on dance psychology for A level students in Norway (Tell publishing) and presented my MAS thesis and the scoping review at several conferences. Since 2021, I am also a guest lecturer in dance psychology at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. To be able to talk about my research but also investigate with the students how to practically apply research findings is not only challenging but also thoroughly enjoyable.

Alongside my academic journey, I am a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) and am currently serving as a member on their Dance educator’s committee.

If not being immersed in dance science, I am a workout nut and love to de-stress with dance inspired workouts. I am also a self-proclaimed film and book enthusiast and love to watch films with friends and family or read fiction whenever I have time (the four novel set of the cemetery of the forgotten books by the late Carlos Ruiz Zafon or the C.B. Strike series by Robert Galbraith are firm favourites).

I'm looking forward to be part of- and inspired by the SPRINT team’s incredible work and hope that my passion for dancers’ mental health and my prior experiences can be of value to the team’s future research endeavours.


Photo credit: Michelle Schachtler Dwarika.

Written by Michelle Schachtler Dwarika, PhD Researcher in the SPRINT Project.

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