Team around the artist: Benji Soerel

“It takes a village to raise a child”, as the saying goes. The same is true for the development of professional talent within the performing arts. Student Life, the student support programme of Codarts, advocates a ‘Team Around the Artist’ approach, meaning that the student is at the centre and is supported by a team of leading health practitioners, teachers, study coaches, embedded scientists and support staff.

One of the team members is our physiotherapist, Benji Soerel. Get to know Benji a little bit better through this short interview!

Interview:

What is your role as physiotherapist at Codarts? 

As a physiotherapist at Codarts I work in the building at Kruisplein. This means I mainly treat and advise music students and dance students.

For what problems/questions can students contact you?

Students can contact the physiotherapist when they have physical complaints/an injury, want to know more about their body or want advice on how to improve their performance.

How can students make an appointment with you?

Normally students book an appointment through the Student Teacher Information Point (STIP). A new online agenda tool is currently being developed and will be implemented in the near future. This online system gives students the possibility to directly book an appointment with the physiotherapist themselves, without needing to go to STIP first. Students and staff will soon be informed about this new agenda tool.

How long have you worked at Codarts and what did you do before you started working as a physiotherapist?

I started working as a physiotherapist at Codarts in May 2019, so more or less half a year now. Prior to becoming a physiotherapist, I danced with the Birmingham Royal Ballet for six years. For my master research project Human Movement Sciences, we followed the first-year bachelor dance students at Codarts for a period of four weeks and measured their physical workload. With the results of this research we now know more about what is being asked physically from the dance students during their training. In the future we hope this information will be useful to improve injury prevention plans and rehabilitation processes.

Why did you decide to become a physiotherapist?

I have always been fascinated by the human body, mostly with what it is able to achieve. During my own career I have tried and tested it literally to the max. As a result, working and dancing with some of the best people in the dance world. But a downside to this way of working also included many injuries. When I got to a point in my dancing career that I was expecting more of my body than it was able to give me, I made the decision to re-educate myself as a physiotherapist and help others safely reach their max.

Does your background in dancing help you as a physiotherapist at Codarts?

I believe so. As an ex-dancer I understand the different techniques and workloads. Having learned from my own injuries, I know what it takes to get back from an injury and how for example technique can play a role. With my physiotherapy and Human Movement Sciences degrees I now also have a better understanding of where my own injuries originated, and more importantly, those of others. 

What do you enjoy most about your work at Codarts?

Students at Codarts are always motivated to get better. As physiotherapists we are there to help students and get them back to full fitness. What I enjoy most about my work at Codarts, is when a student says he or she is fully back after an injury or notices real improvements. 

What would you consider the most important skill or knowledge that a student should learn or take from their studies at Codarts?

As a physiotherapist:

Getting to know your own body and recognise its limits. One of the hardest, but also most important things.

As an ex-dancer:

Combining the wisdom of your teachers with your own knowledge and experiences.