Our next featured members in the “5 Questions With…” column are Student Committee Members, Andrea Alvarez and Siobhan Mitchell. Andrea is a third year graduate student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, USA. Siobhan is a PhD student at the University of Bath, UK.
-How did you first get interested in dance science/medicine?
Siobhan - When I started training full-time we had an assignment to design a cross-training programme – I really got into the science of it and thinking about injury prevention and nutrition and ways to optimize my dance training and performance. A few years later when I was doing my undergraduate degree, we had a dance science module and this really inspired me to take my interest forward and apply for the Dance Science MSc at Laban – the rest is history!
Andrea - When I started taking classes about dancer wellness and health. While I was an undergraduate student, Texas A&M University was in the process of creating the dance science track kinesiology major. Since I was very active in the program, I decided to change my major once it was approved. It did not take long before I realized that was the right choice. I quickly started to find connections between all my science courses and how they could relate to dance and dancers. I remember sitting in my Athletic Injuries class thinking “I want to be an athletic trainer for dancers!” I was told there was no such thing, and I replied “well, I guess I am creating a new career.” Luckily, there are many of them now.
-Are you currently participating in research? Can you give us your elevator pitch or brief summary of your research area?
Siobhan - I am currently working on my PhD research exploring the implications of maturation timing upon psychological well-being in elite dancers. Current research suggests that maturation timing (whether an individual biologically matures in advance of their peers, later than their peers or at an average time) may be an important factor in how individuals cope with different learning experiences and social contexts and can therefore play a role in subsequent psychological wellbeing. My PhD research aims to explore this within the context of elite dance training and to investigate how we might use this knowledge within dance teaching contexts to promote and to optimise psychological wellbeing in adolescent dancers. I’m also working on a body composition research project with fellow IADMS member Jasmine Challis - we are trying to establish norms for a novel form of body composition assessment – we presented some of our findings at the IADMS conference in Pittsburgh!
Andrea - I am just starting my research this semester. I am working parallel to another institution, looking into how participation levels affect recovery among college dance students. Hopefully, I will have more details soon.
-What is the best thing about being a student member of IADMS?
Siobhan - The annual meetings and having the opportunity to network with and meet the people whose papers you’ve been reading all year! It’s great to feel a part of a community who share your interests and passion.
Andrea - Having the opportunity to meet and network with many professionals in our field of study/interest, and connecting with other students and young professionals from around the world who may be going through similar experiences. Also, having access to the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, as well as many other resources like the Educational Opportunities Document, forums and blog, social media, etc.
-What has been your favorite IADMS experience?
Siobhan - Getting the opportunity to do poster presentations at the Annual Meetings in Seattle (2013) and Pittsburgh (2015) and of course being part of the student committee – it’s been a great experience so far!
Andrea - Oh there are too many. I would say the 24th Annual Meeting in Basel, Switzerland because it was my first time traveling overseas, and I was less shy about approaching professionals and talking to them and asking questions. But also, the 21st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. holds a special place in my heart because it was my first time attending, and I was the only student traveling with my professors.
-What would you say to a student thinking of joining IADMS?
Siobhan - It’s a brilliant opportunity to create a network of friends and connections who share your passion for dance science – it’s like a big family and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.
Andrea – Do it!! It is a great opportunity with amazing experiences!
If you are interested in the Student Committee and its initiatives, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to the “5 Questions With...” sub-committee, Andrea Alvarez and Siobhan Mitchell.