Hightlights from the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science annual meeting enhancing the health, wellbeing, training and performance of dancers

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Since its inception in 1990, the International Association of Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) has had a strong connection with Australia. As the first Safe Dance research was being undertaken, dance medicine practitioners, educators, scientists and dancers were coming together to establish this important network. IADMS aims to enhance the health, wellbeing, training and performance of dancers by cultivating educational, medical, and scientific excellence.

The 2014 IADMS Annual Meeting was held in Basel, Switzerland under the leadership of President Janet Karin OAM, kinetic educator at The Australian Ballet School. These annual meetings aim to enhance understanding of recent research and its application to the training and treatment of dancers and brings together a broad range of experienced researchers, artists and scientists.

Presentations covered everything from the impact of caffeine on dancers to an overview of metatarsalgia of the lesser toes in elite dancers and the biomechanics of tendu closing. Dr Luke Hopper from Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts presented his research on dancer perceptions of dance floor properties. This research will help companies ensure the flooring surface supports dancers in the studio and while on tour.

The University of Sydney was well represented with health scientists and psychologists looking at range of topics including how different styles of practice impacts on the time taken to learn a skill and the lower limb dysfunction in children with joint hypermobility. Lisa Howell, Sydney dance physiotherapist and founder of the Ballet Blog, is a regular attendee at IADMS and ran a session on hip profile and turnout.

There has been some exciting developments in our understanding of the body, and how to support dancers to get the most out of their ‘instrument’. There has also been some great research starting on the positive impacts of dance for non-dancers. There was a range of poster presentations tracking studies of older people dancing.

two presenters stand in front of their poster presentationsTwo of the poster presentations. The effectiveness of dance intervention to improve older adult health: a systematic literature review by Phoebe Woei-Ni Hwang, University of Hawaii. Growing old disgracefully—dance exercise strategies for an ageing world by Jeremy Leslie-Spinks, University of Wolerhampton.

Bobby Bernstein, a professional dancer with Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern, Germany, gave a compelling but simple presentation outlining the support a young dancer needs for injury prevention and rehabilitation and the benefits that come from engaging with medical professionals who are experienced in the specific needs of dancers. Connections through bodies like IADMS can certainly encourage greater understanding of the medical needs of dancers for performers and health professionals. Visit http://www.iadms.org for more information and access to past annual meeting proceedings.

The 25th Annual Meeting of IADMS will take place 8–11 October 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.