（照片由Worldwide Dancer Project提供）
盧：如果一位舞蹈員單獨預約諮詢時，我通常會用一個全面的途徑（holistic approach）入手，譬如提問他／她的家庭情況、在學校的學習、舞蹈層面的表現等。在腦海裡我將所有因素鋪排開來，觀察箇中關係，了解完整的畫面，再提供適合的心理技能訓練（psychological skills）。如果是進行團體授課、教表現心理學時，我就會和學生練習一些通用的心理技能，譬如你能否回憶起自己表現最佳時的畫面，而腦海裡能產生多少個這類的畫面呢？能否練習複製這些畫面和感受，運用到接下來的表現中？你認為要專注做好哪些元素，才會幫助你建立更強的自信呢？運動表現心理學的技能看似既有專注力，又涵蓋動力、自信心等等，其實每一個元素之間都有著千絲萬縷的關係。總括而言，心理技能訓練能夠幫助舞蹈員提升表現，這也是表現心理學家主要的工作之一。
盧：Kate Hays是一位加拿大研究表演藝術的心理學家，她編著有《Performance Psychology in Action: A Casebook for Working With Athletes, Performing Artists, Business Leaders, and Professionals in High-Risk Occupations》。美國亦有幾位著名的表現心理學家，如Linda Hamilton、Noa Kageyama。而中文書籍則可以參考我於2019年推出的《運動心理學——建立自信、盡展所長》（花千樹出版社），舞蹈老師和學生只需將書本上運動的練習和例子轉化成舞蹈場景即可。
Performance Psychology: A Conversation with Karen Lo
Original Text: Heidi Yu
Translation: Pomny Chu
Many dance artists, dance students and dance teachers have little awareness of performance psychology . We therefore decided to interview Karen Lo, a specialist in applied motion and performance psychology, to discuss why dance practitioners need to understand the psychology of dance and performance, and the practical applications and benefits of this discipline.
Lo: Sports and performance psychology is a branch of psychology. When we think of psychology, we usually think of mental illness. However, sports psychology is not about treating illness but helping to explore the journey from "zero" to "one". This means the process of improvement of an athlete or a dancer who wants to enhance his/her performance. Improvement includes psychological, mental and technical aspects, areas in which psychologists can provide support to athletes and dancers. Their primary role is to establish the root cause of any problems, which is often achieved through individual consultations.
When a dancer lacks confidence, different psychological methods and coaching can help improve this. During individual sessions, psychologists attempt to understand when the dancer feels this lack of confidence. Is it only before important performances or normal shows as well? Has something specific happened to make the person lose confidence? Is it because their family members are also in the dance industry, and this affects them? What has happened to their friends recently? Are they working with a new teacher or facing a new teaching method which they’re not comfortable with? Is their feedback not being heard? A professionally trained psychologist can determine the root of problems from these questions.
Yu: Can you tell us about the difference between individual sessions and group sessions?
Lo: When a dancer comes for an individual consultation, I tend to start with a holistic approach. For example, I ask about their family situation,their studies or their performance in dance. I lay out all the factors in my mind and observe how they relate to each other to understand the whole picture, then provide appropriate psychological skills training for the dancer. When I conduct group sessions, I tend to practise a few general psychological skills with the students. For example, can you picture the best moment in your performance? How many of those moments can you think of? Can you practise copying those moments and feelings and apply them to your next performance? What elements do you think you should focus on to build more confidence? Sports and performance psychology helps with concentration, motivation and self-confidence, to name just a few things. Each element connects with all the others. In short, psychological skills traing can help dancers improve their performance, which is one of the main jobs for a performance psychologist.
Yu: Not everyone has the opportunity to meet with a performance psychologist. What else do you suggest people can do to improve themselves?
Lo: I suggest they read books on sports and performance psychology. These books deal with psychological skills. For example, when you want to boost your self-esteem, you can improve your memory through imagery training so as to improve your performance. You can let go of bad memories, forget (‘unlearn’) negatives things that have happened and relive positive moments, memorising and repeatedly reviewing your best dance performances in your mind.
Yu: How should dance teachers apply performance psychology skills in lessons? What is the most important thing for them to do or the first step they can take?
Lo: One of the essential skills for training in performance psychology is setting goals. Teachers can start by introducing this in the classroom. Even if there are time constraints, they can simply take five minutes each week and invite each student to set a goal. Suppose I want to improve a dance movement, which parts of the movement should be specified. I want to improve my mentality, let my emotions make me cry and enjoy dancing. Which parts of the lesson do I enjoy the most and should focus on? There are many kinds of goals,not just physical or technical goals, but also mental and emotional ones. How should we take care of these aspects?
Dance teachers play an important role in establishing the atmosphere of a lesson, whether for students or professional dancers. Striving for perfection, aiming for constant improvement, criticizing every movement the dancer makes… These practices have long been seen as necessary and normal in the dance industry. I think people should learn how to balance positive and negative comments because both are equally important. The teacher can first point out what the student has done well, then give constructive criticism, ending with some praise. It is like a sandwich, giving positive and negative comments alternately. This approach to giving feedback has been recognized by many dance teachers.
Yu: This doesn’t mean that teachers shouldn’t be demanding, rather that they should adjust the way they express themselves, right?
Lo: Exactly. The order in which you give positive and negative feedback, the speed and tone of how you say things are very important. Teachers who are not familiar with performance psychology can use this as a starting point.
Yu: Lastly, can you suggest some books and information on performance psychology teachers and students can refer to?
Lo: Kate Hays is a Canadian psychologist who specialises in performing arts. She wrote the book Performance Psychology in Action: A Casebook for Working With Athletes, Performing Artists, Business Leaders, and Professionals in High-Risk Occupations. There are also several famous performance psychologists in America, such as Linda Hamilton and Noa Kageyama. For Chinese language books, I recommend my own book Sports Psychology–building confidence and achieving excellence, published by Arcadia Press Ltd in 2019. This can help if teachers and students practise the exercises and examples in the book and use them in dance scenarios.
盧綽蘅 Karen Lo
Sport and Performance Psychologist in Hong Kong. Graduated from the University of Hong Kong with Bachelor of Social Science (Psy) and Boston University in the US with Masters of Sports Performance Psychology. Her major interests are in improving performance, the significance of sports students identity, motivation, psychological resilience and coaching psychology .