The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) 26th Annual Conference was held in Hong Kong on 20–23 October 2016. A group of Australian academics, clinicians, dancers and students were thrilled to be able to travel to Hong Kong to present our work to the dance research community. Australia should be proud to be at the forefront of this field, and a presentation on bibliometric analysis of dance publications identified Australia as one of the top countries in the world for quality and collaborative dance research!
The conference was full of quality and interesting presentations and movement sessions and there was a strong emphasis on injury understanding and prevention.
I attended presentations about injury rates in different groups of overseas dancers, impact of flooring and footwear, training load and injury timing throughout the year, the role of supplementary strength training for dance, and examples of injury prevention programs being implemented in various training academies around the world. However, while I was listening to these presentations, one important thing became clear—much of the current research into dancer health focusses on company-based professional or pre-professional ballet dancers. For example, overseas studies demonstrate that supplemental strength training is beneficial for ballet dancers and suggest that it reduces injury risk. However, it is unknown how much dancers incorporate supplementary training into their workload in Australia and whether this could also reduce injury risks in non-ballet dancers. Until this overall evidence gap is addressed, it will be assumed that current statistics and findings about dancer health from company ballet dancers are relevant to and reflective of all professional dancers, despite fundamental differences in dance style, training load, performances and employment situation.
Therefore our current Safe Dance IV study is more important than ever and aims to investigate the physical health of all Australian company and freelance dancers. Through this study we will be able to better understand current dancer demographics, training load, the prevalence of different injuries and their potential contributing factors, health service access, quality of life, and other health indicators. Due to the range and depth of information required, the questionnaire takes about 1 hour to complete. However, you don't need to do this in one sitting; you can save your responses along the way and return to complete the survey at a later time.
The information coming from Safe Dance IV is intended to be used to help set priority areas for future dance research and action, make updated safe dance practice recommendations and assist with evaluations of current injury prevention initiatives. To achieve this, we need high-quality data from a large number and a diverse range of professional dancers in Australia. So far we have received completed questionnaires from just over 100 dancers, but we need much more!
If you are aged over 18, identify primarily as a professional dancer, and have been paid to work, rehearse or perform as a dancer for more than a combined total of 3 months (this doesn’t have to be all in one block or contract) over the past 12 months, you are eligible to participate in this study. To complete the questionnaire, visit http://tinyurl.com/SafeDanceSurvey. A paper copy is also available and can be mailed to you, or you can pick one up in person from any Ausdance office.
If you would like to learn more about Safe Dance or other dance research projects at the University of Sydney, please contact Amy via email, Facebook Dance Research Collaborative, or Twitter @amyjvassallo.