Our next featured members in the “5 Questions With…” column are Student Committee Members, Carina Nasrallah, Stephanie Alimena and Lucie Clements. Carina is an athletic trainer at Physical Therapy Solutions, Mechanicsville, Virginia - the official provider of physical therapy services and onsite care for the Richmond Ballet. Stephanie is a medical student at University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT and Lucie is a PhD student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance, London UK.
How did you first get interested in dance science/medicine?
Carina - I began my training as a dancer at a young age, continued pre-professionally through high school, and then pursued dance as my major in undergraduate studies. In high school, I witnessed one of my fellow dancers rupture her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during jumps in center. I remember hearing about her experience with the doctors, surgery, etc. – she was often frustrated with how the doctors compared her injury to that of an athlete or football player and how little they knew about the demands of dance. This piqued my interest and I found myself wanting to learn more about dance-related injuries, anatomy, and health.
Lucie - During my undergraduate degree studies, I was required to do a year-long work placement. I had pursued a BSc in Psychology rather than a dance career due to unresolved problems with bilateral labral tears, but I always had a determination to combine my studies with my lifelong love of dance. I could not believe my luck when I found a placement working in the cognitive neuroscience of dance, investigating kinaesthetic empathy and the mirror neuron system. During my research that year I came across some of the big names in dance psychology and realised that a career in the field was possible. I am grateful to my placement supervisor, Corinne Jola, for the encouragement and support she gave me in my first steps into dance science. When I discovered the MSc in Dance Science at Trinity Laban, there was no going back for me. I’ve been determined to pave my way in dance science as a specialist in dance psychology ever since.
Stephanie - I've been dancing since the age of three and have wanted to be a doctor for just as long. Then when I was living in France for 2 years after college, I obtained a second Bachelor's degree in Dance in Paris, and learned just how underserved dancers are as a population. It became clear to me that I am passionate about learning how we can improve their access to health care and educating dancers about proper health maintenance strategies while training. While I've ultimately decided that I want to pursue a career in Women's Health, my passion for helping dancers will be something I take with me throughout my career.
-Are you currently participating in research? Can you give us your elevator pitch about your research area?
Carina - I am currently conducting a nationwide survey-study in the U.S. on the availability of healthcare services to student-dancers in university programs. Student-dancers in university programs are largely underserved with adequate healthcare. Compared to traditional student-athletes, student-dancers in universities have limited access to specialized medical services, but the current availability of healthcare services is not well documented. By identifying successful models for providing services and addressing potential limitations the dance medicine community can better advocate for accessible medical services as a feasible and necessary option for dance programs. I presented a poster summary of my research at the IADMS Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh.
Stephanie - I am currently involved in research looking at health seeking behaviors in dancers. Last summer I travelled to France and administered a questionnaire to members of two major ballet companies and two major ballet schools. Overall we found that dancers in France, like dancers in the U.S., tend to avoid going to the doctor when injured. We found that most dancers did not first seek help from a physician when injured. However, most dancers ultimately did receive care from a physician from their injury (86%), on average within 2.5 weeks of sustaining it. We also found differing rates of health seeking behaviours towards physicians among professional dancers vs. student dancers, with students being more likely to first access care from a dance teacher, whereas professionals were more likely to go directly to a physician specialist. We hope to further examine the cause of these differences in health seeking among dancers of varying professional status, to help improve access to care for younger dancers.
Lucie - I’m extremely fortunate to be receiving funding from the Leverhulme Trust to undertake PhD research within a project entitled ‘In the Dancer’s Mind; Creativity, Novelty and Imagination’. Working with Emma Redding at Trinity Laban, alongside UK dance and psychology colleagues from Coventry University and Plymouth University, we are investigating the impact of systematic imagery training in developing our students’ creativity and creative abilities. It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with choreography staff, embedding dance science research into the contemporary dance curriculum. Our research is a little different to the health-based focus we usually see at IADMS, but Dr. Redding and I are excited to share our work with IADMS over the coming years – watch this space!
-Which annual meeting has been your favourite so far and why?
Carina - I truly enjoyed the meeting in Basel, Switzerland. I loved getting to travel internationally and visit to such a beautiful country and culture (not to mention the amazing chocolate and cheese fondu!). It was also neat to reconnect with many of the colleagues I had met at my first annual meeting. There are more familiar faces at every meeting you attend!
Lucie – My favourite annual meeting was the one just gone, the 25th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. Not only was it my first experience of visiting the USA but the first time I had presented at IADMS. Being able to share my work with esteemed IADMS colleagues will always be a very special memory. I was also lucky enough to meet and receive advice from two of IADMS’ longest serving dance psychologists – Lynda Mainwaring and Paula Thomson. To speak to these people, whose work had opened my eyes to IADMS and dance psychology, was truly inspiring and their words of encouragement will stay with me for a very long time. It was also IADMS’ 25th anniversary celebration, and I turned 25 a couple of weeks after – I love that IADMS and I were born at the same time!
-In which ways has IADMS helped you grow in your field of study?
Carina - I have truly enjoyed getting to know the people behind the expanding and growing field of dance medicine and science. Through their journal articles, online educational resources, and then getting to meet them in person at the annual meetings, I have continually been inspired and challenged to never stop asking questions -- and seeking out the answers. My involvement with the IADMS community has made me more aware of how critical dance medicine and science is to the advancement of dance as an art form and the nurturing of body-wise, artist-athletes.
Stephanie - Before IADMS, I had no idea that dance medicine and science existed. IADMS has helped me find mentors for my research, network with other people with similar research interests, and help me learn about my career options.
-What is the best thing about being a student member of IADMS?
Carina - The people and the resources. Attending the annual meetings has been the best opportunity for me to meet like-minded individuals who are similarly passionate about improving dancer wellness and performance. Of the researchers, students, and healthcare professionals that I have met at conferences, there have been a number who I have continued to collaborate and network with professionally. Also, the resources that IADMS publish have raised the bar for dance medicine and science research; I have learned so much about expanding my knowledge and experience as an artist, researcher, and healthcare professional.
Stephanie - Hanging out with other students with similar interests! I was so impressed with the calibre of the student presentations at the last IADMS meeting. All the students are bright individuals with really interesting research projects. Everyone is also super nice and easy to get along with, and happy to help put you in touch with their connections as well. It really is an awesome student network.
Lucie - It’s great meeting other young, like-minded individuals. There is a large community of young dance scientists in London, but it’s exciting to establish connections with other people from around the world. I also love that now I’ve completed my MSc in Dance Science and I’m progressing with my PhD, I can share my experiences and enthusiasm with undergraduate students who are thinking of pursuing further study in the field.
-What has been your favourite IADMS experience?
Carina - At the 2013 Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA, I had the opportunity to go on the kayaking trip around Lake Union in the centre of the City. In the group were Matthew Wyon a Professor at Wolverhampton University and a handful of fellow students and educators. Along with the amazing scenery and seeing the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle, the trip was filled with laughter and so many unforgettable moments shared with amazing people!
Stephanie - I really enjoyed the Movement Session on KT Taping at the Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. I learned a lot of information that has proven valuable to me time and time again this year in treating musculoskeletal injuries at the clinic where I work during medical school.
What would you say to a student thinking of joining IADMS?
Carina - Do not miss out! The access to online resources such as the Journal of Dance Medicine & Science that you receive as a student member are essential to exploring any type of dance medicine/science topic -- for research, artistic development, or education. The discount on registration for the Annual Meeting is another huge plus! View it as a professional investment in your career as a research, educator, or artist rather than just an annual fee.
Lucie – I would highly encourage it. IADMS is a hugely supportive, welcoming network of individuals. When you’re undertaking research like I am, it’s easy to become really focused on that area and forget to listen out for what else is going on in dance science. For me, IADMS is the best way to stay up to date with current research in the dance science world. As students we look up to the founders and long serving members of IADMS, but we should also recognize that students are the future of the organisation. So, don’t be afraid to get involved!
If you are interested in the Student Committee and its initiatives, contact us at email@example.com.
Special thanks to the “5 Questions With...” sub-committee, Andrea Alvarez and Siobhan Mitchell.