Dance and healthy body image have not always been the greatest of friends - a relationship one Otago student plans to improve.
Georgia Mayor is using her undergraduate studies to fuel her Master of Applied Science in Advanced Nutrition for the benefit of dancers and other athletes.
She’s spent the past few months working with the Otago Nuggets Dancers as she trials her own programme.
A dancer of more than 16 years herself, Georgia understands the need for informed teachers and practice.
She understands her ability to fuel change for other dancers and sees the damage done by a diet-focussed society.
“I wanted to investigate the dance world and the Nuggets provided a focus group for it. Previously, negative body image has been a common experience in dance and one I have seen myself.”
She had the opportunity through -an internship to create an eight-week programme which challenges dancers to be more mindful as opposed to the usual eight-week challenges usually seen at gyms that are primarily focussed on weight loss and image.
The programme has combined everything from her undergraduate and postgraduate studies so far, she says.
It is targeted at dance teachers in particular with a focus on weight stigma and changing their language around body image.
There are activities based on fostering a positive body image and what research has shown works for that relationship.
It also incorporates nutrition education and eating for overall health rather than limiting foods to just good or bad as it is known restriction leads to bigger problems.
“It’s such a complex area to be working in, but exciting because I can actually take this further and do good things for people with it.”
Georgia has already had interest from groups outside of the Nuggets and from sports outside of dance.
For now she is continuing to fine-tune her programme.
“If I get a programme like this out, it’s like a foot in the door. Maybe it’s not a final solution, but if I can get my foot in the door and stop it from closing then others can come in and build on this work to solve the problem for future generations.
Working with the Nuggets has been so good,” she says. “They’re a tight-knit and positive team and it’s a hands-on way to get feedback on the development.
“One of the activities I’ve been doing with them is an acceptance technique looking at the physical body as an observer, understanding your body is going to change and it’s supposed to.”
The 21-year-old is already a registered associate nutritionist and the new master’s course is everything she wanted in a postgraduate degree.
“The staff are amazing and allowing me to take it and make it my own by combining dance and nutrition. I’m remaining with the Nuggets for a while longer running the body positivity and nutrition workshops. I then have fellow master’s students here who give feedback. It’s like having a team of people working together on this.”
Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser, Chelsea McRae