Monthly Archives: July 2016

Spotlight: Lee Fisher

For a number of years, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Lee Fisher. We spoke to him about his journey from professional ballet dancer to learning and development consultant.

Tell us about your work.

I’m a Lane4 associate and coach. That means I get to work with lots of organisations and teams, supporting leadership and team development, getting involved in group and one to one work. And I recently came across CentreStage, which has been nice, using theatre, which is my background, as part of the process. I’m fairly new to the use of theatre in learning and development as a concept, but it’s something I’m passionate about. To see it used in the corporate world is really interesting and has affirmed to me the power of theatre in the learning environment.

Where does that passion come from?

It’s in every fibre of me. I started dancing at age five or six, went through intensive training and ended up at the Royal Ballet School, then joined Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet. I performed for nearly 20 years. I’ve also worked a little as a choreographer and director.

What do you miss most about your life in the Ballet?

I feel very privileged. I’ve had a very fortunate career. I’ve toured the world, danced on major opera house stages and danced with wonderful artists. I miss the camaraderie and team spirit you experience when bringing a show to the stage. I also miss being so oriented to detail and physical fitness, and being a part of something. And I do like a good show at the end of the day!

How did you go from Ballet to where you are now?

In 2005 I decided to retire from dance. I’d been working increasingly with groups in the world of community dance, and I really enjoyed that. And I had the opportunity to do a Masters in Applied Dance. I’d always been interested in what makes some dancers more successful than others, so the focus of my studies was psychological performance. There wasn’t much written about dance psychology at the time. It was all sports psychology. So I wrote my MA dissertation on applying psychological enhancement techniques to ballet dancers.

I also went on a year-long leadership programme, a part of which was in Windsor. It was there that I met a client of Lane4, who loved my story and suggested I meet Liz Campbell. I met Liz, and she suggested I go and meet the Lane4 team at a Magic Monday forum, which I did. I wasn’t expecting to do a presentation as well though! I ended up doing a team-building workshop for Lane4, and off the back of that Liz suggested I go to a matching event, which I went to not realising it was a job interview! I subsequently joined Lane4 as a fast track consultant. Lane4 were interested in performance from a dance perspective. So a lot of what I do around motivation and performance comes from the dance world, with coaching being a big part of it. My work for Lane4 is probably around 75% of what I do, the remainder being community dance – I still do work for Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Lane4 are known for applying the principles of high performance in sports to the corporate world. So how does dance differ from sports?

Well there are lots of similarities. Doing the very best you can do, having appropriate goals and maintaining self-belief. In terms of differences, the dance world is far more subjective and open to interpretation. You will go to the same ballet performed by different dancers because of different interpretations. Those elements of interpretation and artistry aren’t as prominent in the sporting domain. What I notice when working with CentreStage is the actors are able to highlight nuance and subtlety in communication, which isn’t immediately measurable but is incredibly important.

What do you think delegates get from working with actors?

It’s so powerful. Seeing situations played out that they can relate to is really enlightening. When people can put themselves into the shoes of the protagonist, it’s great learning. Then to sit one to one and test skills in the moment and get real-time feedback is a great learning opportunity.

For some time I’ve worked with a theatre company that uses actors in prisons, and some of the research they carried out in terms of the impact of forum theatre on personal change was staggering. The research focused on the extent to which prisoners would reoffend or go into employment. Ultimately the use of theatre had a massively positive impact. That’s one of the reasons I value working with actors so much.

You said that your MA dissertation focused on applying psychological enhancement techniques to ballet dancers. What were your findings?

That the more successful dancers were intuitively using techniques such as visualisation, goal setting and positive self-talk. For example, just before you go on stage, what are you saying to yourself? What is your mind-set and how does your mind-set influence your performance? I hadn’t imagined when writing it that I would end up working for a company like Lane4, but now it feels like a really logical progression.

Do the same rules apply in the corporate environment?

I think so. Leaders who are able to focus on the right things at the right time and maintain their motivation, those who are resilient across their beliefs so they can recover from setbacks and maintain performance under pressure are the most successful. I think great athletes, dancers and leaders share those attributes.

I get a massive buzz from doing what I do now. It’s an ideal second career! Giving people that space to grow and set exciting goals, creating the right environment in which people can express themselves, and being able to share that environment with them feels like a real privilege, so I can see myself continuing to do it for many years.

If you didn’t work in this field, what would you do – your perfect ‘third career’?

I fancy being a river keeper on a beautiful stretch of river. I have a passion for nature and the outdoors.

The Power of Theatre in the Fight Against Cancer

We felt incredibly privileged to be asked to contribute to the recent bowel cancer screening launch event organized by Slough Clinical Commissioning Group and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The free event, at Slough’s Montem Leisure Centre, brought together people from across the Slough community to raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening, encourage communities and service providers to engage with each other and improve the health of individuals through prevention, early diagnosis and education.

Dr Nicky Myerscough, from Crosby House Surgery and the Macmillan Clinical Lead at the CCG, said: “This is a great opportunity to spread the word to the local community about the importance of screening. Unfortunately, Slough has low uptake rates which means that cancers often aren’t spotted until late. We hope that people will be encouraged to participate in screening so that potential problems can be detected and treated at an early stage, thus avoiding much unnecessary suffering for patients and their families.”

Pardip Kumar and Amit Kamliwala performing at the launch

Pardip Kumar and Amit Kamliwala performing at the launch

People automatically receive a simple bowel cancer screening test kit in the mail when they turn 60 and every two years thereafter, up to 74 years of age. As of December 2014, a total of 40,302 people between 60-74 years of age living in Slough had been invited to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme since its inception in 2006, but only 15,157 completed the test, leaving over 25,000 unscreened individuals.

Regular bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when patients may have no symptoms, so in an area where the take-up of bowel cancer screening tests is particularly low – compared to the national average – Slough CCG and Macmillan are particularly keen to empower individuals to make informed choices.

As part of their aim to make the recent launch memorable and engaging, Slough CCG/Macmillan asked us to create a piece of theatre that would explore the sensitive issues around bowel cancer in an absorbing way, to entertain an audience while delivering impactful messages, and reflect the cultural and social barriers to cancer screening.

So we worked with Slough CCG/Macmillan staff to understand their objectives and approached local playwright, Adam Foster, to script a 20-minute play that could be staged simply and effectively as part of the launch. Developed over a number of weeks, the final script explores the world of Rahul and his son, Jamal, and the development of their relationship over many years. The story, often told in flashback, culminates in Rahul being diagnosed with bowel cancer and the subsequent, heart-breaking repercussions.

CentreStage actors Pardip Kumar and Amit Kamliwala brought the two characters to life in what was a touching, often funny piece of theatre. The event also included healthy food demonstrations and tasting, Zumba and Tai Chi taster sessions and free health advice with over 30 local service providers setting up stalls on the day.

CentreStage actors Amit Kamliwala and Pardip Kumar with The Mayor of Slough, councillor Arvind Dhaliwal

CentreStage actors Amit Kamliwala and Pardip Kumar with The Mayor of Slough, councillor Arvind Dhaliwal

Gloria Askander, Programme Lead for Slough CCG / Macmillan Screening Improvement, said, “Over 320 people attended the community event and the feedback received has been very unlifting, positive and definately help to build greater awareness around bowel cancer and bowel cancer screening. The message we really wanted people to take away with them was;  ‘that completeing the bowel cancer screening test can save your life’. The case studies and live drama appeared to have a significant impact on those who attended and we are sure that they will talk to their family, friends and community members about the importance of bowel cancer screening.”

For more information about the partnership work the CCG and Macmillan Cancer Support have been doing within the Slough community visit the Bowel Cancer Screening Improvement Programme page.