In October, several members of Trinity Laban Dance Science team had the pleasure of attending the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) annual meeting in Houston, Texas. This was a four day conference, attended by delegates from all over the world, sharing the most up-to-date innovative research in the field of dance medicine and science. The event consisted of lecture and poster presentations, interactive workshops, movement sessions, round table discussions and debates on a variety of topics. These included physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, injury and much more, presented by a diverse range of speakers including physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, dance educators and scientists. Despite the broad range of professional backgrounds, all delegates and speakers had one thing in common; an involvement in the education, health-care and wellbeing of dancers, and an overall passion for dance medicine and science.
Attending members of the team included Dr Emma Redding (Head of Dance Science), Dr Lucie Clements (Lecturer in Dance Science), Anna Williams and Elizabeth Yutzey (Dance Science Graduate Interns). Our team was also joined by many graduates of the programme and current students. Some of our team and alumni were speakers; presenting their research, leading movement sessions or participating in the panel discussions. We were present for the entire 4 days of the conference and also spent time promoting the work and educational programmes of Trinity Laban at our exhibition stand.
The conference commenced with the opening remarks by IADMS president Professor Matt Wyon, welcoming delegates and speakers and sharing highlights of the four days ahead of us. The conference kicked off to a great start for the TL Dance Science Team – we were very proud to see our very own Dr Emma Redding be presented with the IADMS Dance Educator Award. Congratulations Emma!
New to the conference this year were the IADMS ‘duels’, where two researchers presented their opposing opinions on prevalent topics of debate in dance science. One notable topic of discussion was ‘Should dancers run?’ arguing whether or not dancers should use running as a form of supplementary training. Another stand out topic was ‘Dancer – athlete or artist’ – with fascinating points raised on both sides of the debate. It was a great session to start the conference and initiate debate among delegates!
Dance Science Graduate Intern Anna was the first of the TL team to present her research, delivering an oral presentation on the prevalence of hypermobility and its relationship with self-reported injury in contemporary dance students. This was Anna’s first time presenting at an international conference since graduating from the MSc programme. This was followed by 2016 graduate Nefeli Tsiouti – who presented three times throughout the conference – the first of which shared her findings of the occurrence of injury in elite break-dancers. Another one of our Dance Science graduates, Dr Sarah Kenny, presented her research on the risk factors for injury in pre-professional ballet and contemporary dancers. That afternoon, Dr Emma Redding and Dr Lucie Clements led a movement session on “Collaborative Research in Dance Science and Creative Practice”, where they talked through their 3 year study into the use of mental imagery in dance. Their workshop shared movement tasks which were included in the intervention study and the psychological ideas that underpin them.
To conclude the first day, a student and young professional networking event took place which was organised by the IADMS student committee, chaired by MSc graduate Siobhan Mitchell. This was a great event for students from all over the world to meet each other and exchange interests and ideas in the field of dance science. This workshop consisted of several roundtable discussions led by industry professionals from varying backgrounds, giving students and new graduates the opportunity to learn more about potential career pathways to take in the dance medicine and science field. In the evening, all delegates attended the Welcome Reception at the Health Museum, Houston, to socialise and network whilst enjoying some food and drink. A great end to the first day!
Day 2 marked the first of the ‘Special Interest’ days – ‘A Day for Teachers’. The research presented throughout this day was focused on the application of dance medicine and science into the studio, with the aim of enhancing safe and healthy teaching practices. This was another busy day for the TL team. Firstly, graduate Siobhan Mitchell presented her PhD research on “The Early Maturing Dancer: Challenges and Advantages in UK Vocational Training” which explored the role of maturity timing in young dancers experiences of vocational training. Nefeli Tsiouti led a movement session on the ‘Breakalign Method’, a new conditioning methodology for Break-dancers. Also, Dr Emma Redding, along with Sonia Rafferty and Maggie Morris from Safe In Dance International, led a panel discussion ‘From dance artists to healthy dance advocate: a conversation.’
To finish off Day 2, the Student Committee organised a social event for all the students and recent graduates to get to know each other and network while enjoying some ice cream! It was great to see so many Trinity Laban alumni and current students! Other members of the team attended a local theatre to watch Ad Deum Dance Company, a Houston-based contemporary dance company.
Saturday was the last full day of the conference, but nonetheless a full-on day for the team. Dr Emma Redding and Dr Lucie Clements both presented their research on creativity in dance, which was part of the ‘In the Dancer’s Mind’ project. Their first presentation was on a three year study into creativity and mental imagery, followed by the development of dancer’s perceptions of the creative process questionnaire. Meanwhile, for the third time, Nefeli Tsiouti presented her MSc thesis project on the cardiorespiratory fitness of elite break dancers.
As well as oral presentations, our team were presenting their work through posters and movement sessions. Soon to be MSc graduate Chloe Travers presented a poster about her undergraduate dissertation on the role of Micronutrients on soft tissue injury rehabilitation in dancers. This was followed by MSc graduate Christina Mastori, who delivered a movement session investigating sensorimotor learning principles, guiding participants through sequences which encourage instinctual movement choices, with the aim of enhancing kinaesthetic and proprioceptive skills.
Day 3 was also ‘A day for Medics’ – the second of the special interest days – which included many presentations from a clinical perspective, delivered by many different medical practitioners who work closely with or specialise in dance. A vast selection of studies were presented on topics to do with dance injuries, surgery and methods of rehabilitation. To round up a great day, all guests learned some traditional Texas line dancing at the IADMS party.
The final day was a great conclusion to the event, as our team had finished their individual presentations and could relax and enjoy the final day with an array of presentations and interactive sessions to choose from. Dr Emma Redding and Dr Sarah Needham-Beck (along with other industry professionals) took part in a panel discussion directed by pre-planned questions from students and recent graduates. The panel discussed their own in dance medicine and science, reflecting on their career journeys and highlights. Dr Sarah Kenny shared more of her research on injury in dance, delivering a lecture presentation on the interpretations of injury burden in pre-professional dancers.
One particular aspect of the conference that went down well with the TL team was the movement sessions. It was great to attend these workshops to practically, experience the research and knowledge being developed within the field. This was a unique experience that makes the IADMS annual meeting stand out from your usual conference setting.
Another stand out feature of this years’ annual meeting was the IADMS mobile phone app, which allowed delegates to access the schedule and live updates. The structure of the conference meant there were up to four presentations or activity sessions running simultaneously, giving all attendees a choice to pick an area of interest – the conference app proved very useful in making a quick decision of where to go next! In addition, the conference app could be used to rate and review the presentations and speakers. This was a great opportunity for first-time presenters to receive feedback from other researchers in the field.
As well as being a great networking event for professionals and current researchers, the conference was equally supportive and accommodating for students, from all backgrounds including dance/sports science, kinesiology, physiotherapy and medicine. We were very proud to see so many TL Dance Science alumni, students as well as our Dance Science team present at the event! As our Dance Science programme has produced graduates from all over the world, it was great to all be together in one place, sharing and discussing dance science.
Our Dance Science team and alumni had a fascinating and insightful time at the conference, learning about the current research happening all over the world, as well as having the opportunity to present our own research, represent the work of Trinity Laban and make connections! We are all very excited that next year’s IADMS annual meeting will be held in Helsinki, Finland – we hope to see you there!
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Written by Anna Williams MSc., Dance Science Graduate Intern