2019 is our 50th anniversary and we are championing some of the people who help make Scottish Ballet a great place to work. Each week we will introduce you to a different career at Scottish Ballet and the person behind it.
Martin Lanfear first arrived at Scottish Ballet as a physiotherapy consultant in 2015 before we realised we couldn't live without him, and he joined full-time in 2017.
As Scottish Ballet's primary physiotherapist, Martin ensures our dancers stay at peak mental and physical condition, ready to tackle any challenge our repertoire throws at them. We caught up with Martin to find out how.
Tell us about your journey with Scottish Ballet
I completed a BSc in Psychology in Canada before I emigrated to Scotland to undertake an MSc in Physiotherapy. I initially worked within the NHS, private practice and sport until I got an opportunity to work with Scottish Ballet in a consultancy role. One thing led to another, and a full-time position became available, so I jumped at the chance!
How do you ensure the dancers stay 'en pointe'?
We try to be proactive rather than reactive. I spend a lot of time watching videos of the repertoire and working with the Artistic Team to try to identify potential 'high-cost movements' that may cause injury. We then develop strength and conditioning programs to try to pre-empt injury.
When a dancer does get injured, we have a dancer-centred multidisciplinary team ready to support them. This can include physiotherapy, ballet coaching, strength & conditioning, sports/general medicine, dietetics, massage/chiropractic, and psychological support.
Ultimately, we ask our dancers to adopt an elite performance mindset meaning that they take ownership of their bodies and performance in the studio and on stage. I encourage them to engage in the progress with the Healthcare Team rather than just being a passenger.
Your role involves much more than traditional physiotherapy. What are some of the new skills you've developed in your time with Scottish Ballet so far?
It's great working in an environment that puts you a little out of your comfort zone; every day is a school day at Scottish Ballet for me. Learning the ballet vernacular was and still is challenging, but I'm getting the hang of it.
I've also been known to dabble in a little pointe work myself from time to time.
Do you work closely with other teams in Scottish Ballet?
This is one of my favourite parts of my job; I love being around people who are at the top of their game in their respective fields. I work closely with the Artistic Team daily to make sure all our dancers are in the right physical and mental place.
I often find myself consulting with the Wardrobe Team for their opinion on the fit of pointe shoes, they also guide me on what impact costumes may have on injuries. The Technical Team are always great at advising on the nature of the stages in the various venues as this can influence the presentation of injuries we see throughout a tour.
What is the most common injury you treat?
We see a lot of lower limb overuse injuries, things like tendinopathies and bone stress injuries involving the foot and ankle.
What is the best advice for younger dancers that may have a foot injury?
Seek professional advice as soon as possible and take your pointe shoes to your appointment. Even if the physiotherapist, doctor, podiatrist etc. are not familiar with ballet, any good clinician will want to see you in the footwear that you dance in.
What is your favourite thing about working at Scottish Ballet?
The people, they make me laugh every day.
What's your 'get up and go' song?
Fraser and I have music on in the Treatment Room during our clinic hours, each day has a theme and here's my favourite from the popular "Hip-Hop Friday" playlist.
Notorious B.I.G.- Hypnotize.