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Press Release: Elmhurst Ballet School's Performance Enhancement Coach wins prestigious international dance educator award 2019

Jan McNulty

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Media release: Thursday 14 November 2019 – Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham is celebrating international recognition for its Performance Enhancement Coach, Nico Kolokythas, who received the esteemed Dance Educator Award 2019 at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) conference in Canada, acknowledging his work and research in the field of dance science and education. 


IADMS (‘eye-adams’) was formed in 1990 by an international group of dance medicine practitioners, dance educators, dance scientists, and dancers. Membership is drawn equally from the medical and dance professions, and has grown from an initial 48 members in 1991 to approximately 1,480 members in over 50 countries at present. IADMS was formed to foster several goals in dance medicine and science to enhance health, well-being, training, and performance by cultivating medical, scientific and educational excellence in dance. 


The Dance Educator Award, presented by IADMS Dance Educators' Committee, recognises the integration of dance medicine and science principles through teaching practice and celebrates its influence on future dance teachers and the wider dance sector. Nico joins an impressive list of previous recipients of the award: Stevie Oakes; Professor Emma Redding; Dr. Janice Plastino; Janet Karin; and Dr. Tom Welsh.


On receiving the award in Canada at the end of last month, Nico Kolokythas said: It is a great honour to see my name alongside fellow practitioners who are all well established in dance science. I am humbled with the Association’s decision to award me the Dance Educator Award and I am excited about the future, further research and more collaborations. This has been a team effort from the start, therefore, I would like to thank Elmhurst Ballet School, University of Wolverhampton, the teachers, the students, and all of the practitioners who continue to trust me and agree to work with me.”


Nico has been working in sports science for over ten years and moved into dance science research in 2015 when he was first engaged by Elmhurst Ballet School through a partnership with University of Wolverhampton. He undertook a PhD in Dance Science under the supervision of Matt Wyon, Professor in Dance Science at University of Wolverhampton. 


Since arriving at Elmhurst, Nico has used his knowledge, skills and experience to find ways of improving the overall endurance, strength and suppleness of young dancers. He has been disseminating his PhD research findings over the last few years, including 11+ Dance, an injury prevention and management strategy. The programme is uniquely designed to reduce the risk of both traumatic and overuse injuries and has been based on evidence obtained from sport. Until Nico introduced these findings it had never been trialled in dance. 


Other dance organisations are now engaging in the research and early indications of results are extremely positive. This has led to collaborations for further research on injury prevention and management in dance around the world as more international organisations enquire about the work.  A number of UK organisations are already onside with 11+ Dance including Central School of Ballet, London School of Contemporary Dance, and the Royal Academy of Dance. 


An IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee spokesperson, said: We received 13 qualified nominees for the Dance Educator Award, all of whom demonstrated outstanding expertise and devotion to the fields of dance and dance science, and it is with great pleasure that we announced this year’s winner of the Dance Educator Award to Nico Kolokythas. In particular, nominators evidenced their appreciation for Nico’s development of 11+ Dance, an injury prevention and management programme. We know that Nico is passionate about helping dancers stay healthy and perform at their best, and we are therefore delighted to honour his achievements with this recognition.”


Jessica Wheeler, Principal of Elmhurst Ballet School, said: Nico is passionate about educating both students and teachers in the benefits of supplementary training away from the dance studio. He relishes challenge and he lives by his mantra, ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’. 


He works tirelessly to cultivate an open mindedness to strength and conditioning approaches in an elite ballet training environment, and his use of 11+ Dance within classical ballet and other forms of dance, demonstrates his innovative thinking and proactive approach. He is very inquisitive and is always developing new research themes to pursue based on his daily observations at the school and beyond.


Nico is not frightened to challenge tradition and this has been key in the success of his role at the School. We are thrilled his work has been recognised by IADMS and we can’t wait to see what the future holds as we continue to support Nico’s work and confirm the school’s standing as a world leader in ballet training, performance, health and well-being.” 




Elmhurst Ballet School is based in Edgbaston, Birmingham and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023. It is a world-renowned centre of excellence in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet and prepares talented young dancers aged between 11 and 19 to become the thinking dance professionals of the future. The school nurtures individuality through a holistic approach to training, education and health, which helps students to become independent, collaborative and versatile artists, ready to take their professional places on the world stage. Elmhurst’s dance training is of the highest quality and is delivered by current and former dance professionals. This training is enhanced by opportunities to work with Birmingham Royal Ballet, visiting choreographers and dance artists. Elite but not elitist, Elmhurst believes that talent is classless and its exceptional training opportunities should be available to young dancers regardless of their financial, social or cultural backgrounds. Whilst Elmhurst is an independent school, typically some 80% of students benefit from Government support to train at the school.


Twitter: @elmhurstballet // Instagram: @elmhurstballetschool // Facebook: Elmhurst Ballet School

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