Strength and Conditioning Coach, New Zealand Dance Company
Master of Sport and Exercise
There’s nothing she doesn’t love about her job except that she’d like to do more of it, says AUT sport and recreation alumna Erin Bowerman who has created a first of its kind strength and conditioning coach role for the New Zealand Dance Company – our nation’s leading contemporary dance company.
She says it was a gamble approaching the company at the end of 2018 about a healthcare proposal. Funding is extremely tight and demands on arts companies are high in New Zealand, however Erin believes the dance industry is changing and company directors are seeing the value of investing in healthcare to look after their most prized commodity; their dancers.
“I was so fortunate that the-powers-that-be were willing to listen to my rationale and I was given an opportunity to put my argument for strength and conditioning and for dancer healthcare forward. I’m primarily responsible for managing the assessment, programming, strength, conditioning, fitness training and ongoing monitoring of five full-time professional contemporary dancers. I work with dancers on both traditional and functional strength and conditioning for dance.
“I enjoy fostering the dancers’ enjoyment of strength and conditioning. It’s very rewarding to provide dancers with tools that will not only help them nurture their bodies and make them stronger, fitter and even better performers than they already are, but also provide them with some sense of control within their gruelling schedules, particularly around injury management.”
The foundation for success
Her Master of Sport and Exercise from AUT has given her the perfect foundation for her role at the New Zealand Dance Company, says Erin.
“On a day-to-day basis with the dancers I of course use the technical and theoretical underpinnings of my degree in my work. However, I often feel it’s the lessons and values that were instilled in me from the AUT culture – like adaptability, versatility and the importance of never being afraid to face change – that I’m using most to help the industry I’m so passionate about move forward.”
As part of her master’s degree, she was also fortunate enough to link her research to a project at the Australian Ballet School on injuries in young elite ballet dancers, she says.
“Without a doubt, had I not chosen to study at AUT, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be part of the research at the Australian Ballet School. This allowed me to follow my dream route of study, and ultimately put me on the path I’m currently on.”
Innovative and open-minded
She met some of the most talented people she knows at AUT, says Erin who returned to AUT for postgraduate study after having previously completed a dance degree there.
“I met some of the most talented and best people I know during my time at AUT, both academic staff and peers. The friends I made and the colleagues I had the privilege of working with and being mentored by made my time at AUT one of the best of my life.
“I had such an awesome undergraduate experience that I had no desire to look elsewhere for postgraduate study. I had the unfailing support of the academic staff who were innovative, open-minded and encouraging, and enabled me to pursue my interest of dance science within the sport and exercise postgraduate programme.”
This open-minded approach is what sets AUT apart, says Erin.
“AUT offers an innovative, forward-thinking approach to education, with amazingly adaptable staff. They’re willing to think outside the box and don’t believe that one size fits all.”