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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with Invited Speaker - Nicky Keay

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Monday, September 17, 2018

 

1. Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 28th IADMS Annual Conference (#IADMS2018)?  

Dance Endocrinology is the consideration of the interactive networks of hormones that influence both health and dance training and perforamnce.


2. Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?   
 
Typically imbalances in hormones can result in subtle changes, which my not be immediately obvious. Equally the cause of any endocrine disruption can be multifactorial. 

Nevertheless, identifying dancers with endocrine dysfunction is important to prevent adverse effects on health and therefore dance training and perforamnce. 

In particular, dancers are a group of athletes at risk of developing relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) as being light weight confers both a performance and aesthetic advantage. One of the consequences of RED-S is multiple endocrine network dysfunction and increased injury risk so dancers and all those working with dancers should be aware and alert to this situation. 

 


3. What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work? 

RED-S has only recently described in 2014 and significantly includes both male and female athletes/dancers. Therefore dissemination of the significance of RED-S through the IADMS community is important for safeguarding the health of dancers. 


4. Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences? 

To enjoy and learn from the presentations and meet those with shared passion and intetest in dance medicine.

 


5. What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference? 

To be given the opportunity to put dance endocrinology centre stage and “do battle” on the topic of vitamin D. To hear from others about the multidisciplinary approach to dance medcine. Hoping to have to opportunity to do some Ballet.


Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with 'A Day For Teachers' Speaker - Nico Kolokythas

Posted By IADMS Dance Educators' Committee, Monday, September 10, 2018

 

1. Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?

 

 To my knowledge this is the first injury prevention intervention randomized controlled trial. Up until 2015 there have been two studies on injury prevention and both of them were psychological interventions. In 2016, a group of researchers from Belgium conducted a trial on injury prevention in dancers. Even though this was an important study, the biggest limitation was that they did not report what the intervention was, therefore, it is not possible to reproduce their results. 11+ Dance is a protocol with specified progressions and regressions of the exercises depending on the abilities of the dancers, therefore can be replicated. The results indicate some physiological responses and there is also an indication of a decrease in the injury incidence. 11+ Dance, however, needs to be investigated further as the picture is not complete yet. We need longitudinal studies in order to be able to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. 

 

2. How will your presentation help dance educators to apply research with students and participants in the classroom?

 

 In the movement session we will discuss the development of the intervention but also demonstrate the exercises of the protocol whilst explaining how to progress or regress a dancer. This session will be an opportunity to begin a dialogue with practitioners and teachers for further research in the topic of injury prevention in dance.

 

3. What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?

 

 IADMS strives to support the health of the dancer and also to push the boundaries in dance medicine and science. With such high prevalence of injuries in the dance sector I see IADMS as a key contributor for the dissemination of my research. I look forward to meet and discuss my study but also create links for possible collaborations in the field.

 

 4. Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences?

 

 My first ever IADMS conference was in Hong Kong, where I presented my first observational study from my PhD journey. IADMS is the right place to meet like-minded people, challenge and get challenged, make friendships and collaborations, but more importantly stay up-to-date with what is happening in the sector as far as research is concerned. Since it is the biggest conference that focuses on research-based evidence I find it an essential conference to participate in, whether I am presenting any research or not.

 

5. What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?

 

 I can’t hide the fact that I look forward to presenting this year at IADMS, as I will have completed my PhD. The list is too long to write everything down but any investigation that is related to training load is of interest to me so I look forward to listening to Sarah Needham-Beck presenting and Brenton Surgenor. Kelli Sharp seems to have an interesting study to present on Motor Stability, and I am always keen to listen to Jatin Ambegaonkar’s presentations. One of the my main aims though, as I mentioned above, is to meet and discuss possible collaborations with other practitioners/researchers.

 

 

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with Invited Speaker - Carolina Baeza

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Monday, September 10, 2018

 

1. Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 28th IADMS Annual Conference (#IADMS2018)? 

 

My presentation will focus on psychological/psychiatric aspects associated to joint hypermobility and hypermobility related disorders.

 

2. Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?   

 

Joint hypermobility is very common among performance artists and athletes, which is logical since the flexibility inherent to hypermobility is desirable in these disciplines. Being hypermobile can even become a criterion of selection to enter to certain prestigious ballets for example, as some studies suggest, so it has a very advantageous aspect. However, the counterpart is that there is a vulnerability not only physical, but also psychological associated with hypermobility, of which we must be aware for preventive purposes.

 

3. What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?

 

I think it is relevant because IADMS contributes to giving visibility to our work and will surely stimulate new research ideas. There is much to be done concerning mind-body connections in the field of dance.

 

4. Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences?

 

This will be my first time in a IADMS conference, and I’m very excited and honored to be invited. I think this can be an experience that can open new perspectives to my line of research, and extend my networks as well.

 

5. What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?

 

The program is very attractive, I’m sure that there a lot to learn and exchange in the conference. Also, this is a good occasion to visit Helsinki since I’ve never been there so I’m doubly motivated to attend.

 

 

 

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with Invited Speaker - Fay Nenander

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Photographer: Hakon Larsson

 

1.     Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 28th IADMS Annual Conference (#IADMS2018)?

 

 Within the framework of the ‘Macro-perspectives on dance teaching’ my theme – the importance of mental training and life-style skills – will hopefully help to illuminate the significance of giving the student dancer the necessary skills for acquisition of the “mind-set” needed by a successful professional dancer. This includes both mental training and life-style skills. However, I shall emphasize that this is not just important for the student dancer, but for all dancers.

 

2.     Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?

 

 If the student  - or the professional - dancer is to realize their artistic potential, then they must have control not only over their bodies, but also their minds. Information on the importance of the mind, whilst readily available both through professional expertise and research, is often sadly neglected within the profession – both at the student and professional dancer level. At the student level, amongst much else, mental training skills enable coping with a challenging milieu and unfamiliar demands. Life-style skills and knowledge help in adapting to what often is a completely unfamiliar way of life.

 

 Implications would hopefully be the creation of a change in the prevalent attitude regarding the relative importance of bodily technique and mental health: A new, twenty-first century attitude, where the dancer’s well-being is not just an empty promise and a few hours of mental training if you are lucky, but where mental well-being is seen as an integral part of dance training. Without the brain on board, the technique is useless.

 

3.     What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?

 

 I have been an IADMS member for nearly 20 years and in that time have seen IADMS grow from very small, rather “closed circle” beginnings, to an organization which now truly represents the dance world. I have also seen the change in attitude amongst dancers and professionals who, twenty years ago, often regarded dance medicine and science as something on the periphery – rather eccentric – and who today increasingly appreciate all it can offer in practical knowledge and help.

 

 I also strongly believe that constant curiosity and renewal are essential in our profession. Of course, this is true in all professions – but perhaps especially within dance where both positive and negative traditional values are so entrenched – and where it is so easy to lean back on “how it has always been done”. The IADMS conferences certainly supply the stimulation necessary to combat such complacency.

 

4.     Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences?

 

Stimulation!

 

5.     What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?

 

Stimulation, new information, meeting old friends and making new ones: Experiencing the changes which have taken place since Hong Kong (my last conference).

 

6.     How will your presentation help dance educators to apply research with students and participants in the classroom?

 

 Hopefully, it will inspire and stimulate them to find out about my themes for themselves and then apply the information in the classroom – to make the importance of mental training and life-style skills visible within their everyday teaching.

 

 I hope also that dance educators will realize that they themselves can learn and benefit from the same skills as their students need.

 

 Perhaps most important, I hope it will encourage those who plan schedules, to give adequate time for - and importance to – mental training and life-skills information. These are not extras – they are essentials – and should be given the necessary time in the curriculum and taught by experts.

 

 

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with Invited Speaker - Jari Salo

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Monday, August 27, 2018

Introducing one of our local invited speakers at #IADMS2018 - Jari Salo!

 

 

1. Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 28th IADMS Annual Conference (#IADMS2018)? 

 

My presentation “Imaging the dancer” on Saturday introduces a cutting edge imaging technology for accurate diagnostics of knee / foot and ankle area. Cone beam CT (CBCT) imaging is the first 3D technology with ultra high 0,2mm isotropic resolution, and with a possibility to have imaging done under real weight bearing. With intra-articular contrast media, virtual arthroscopy and proper imaging of even thin cartilage layers of knee or TC-joint is possible.

 

2. Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?   

 

Dancing is always based on painless weight bearing and good ROM in joints. Cartilage issues can disturb dancers’ performance, even after MRI clearance of knee or TC-joint. New weight bearing imaging technologies open up a totally new era for better understanding of functional anatomy of F&A area, as well as in recognising possible career disturbing issues as early as possible. This gives a possibility to make interventions early on, and even to follow-up their effects accurately. The main future of CBCT imaging is so called isotropic data (http://www.cartilagehelp.com/multiplanar-reconstruction.html) which means that any imaging data is archived as a data cloud, and the image of the region of interest can be recalculated in any given angle or slice thickness afterwards to compare data sets reliably down the line (www.disior.com).

 

3. What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?

 

IADMS is a great example of multi modal congress, where professionals from different fields can discuss and work as a team to improve dancers’ health and performance. There are not too many of this kind of meeting in the world, and I do find IADMS an outstanding platform to promote and create this kind of cross scientific contact.

 

4. Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences?

 

I do work a lot with professional elite level athletes, and we also have international ballet dancers with knee and ankle problems. It is my pleasure to attend IDAMS meeting, and to meet other experts from around the world. We now have patients from more than 20 countries visiting our unit in Helsinki for accurate joint imaging with CBCT, and for joint cartilage reconstruction. Often these athletes come to my office after failing of minor cartilage surgery, or with an unknown mechanical joint problem after MRI clearing. Typically I perform more than 100 deep/demanding cartilage reconstructions a year. It is my pleasure to share my 13 year expertise on this field with other experts treating dancers around the world.

 

 

5. What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?

 

Professionally I am looking forward to have discussions on dancers’ cartilage and joint problems, and of course on cutting edge technologies available for accurate diagnostics. CBCT is a novel technology, already in clinical use in many countries, so this year’s meeting is a great opportunity to give and get information on this.  I warmly welcome you all to my home town!

 

 

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with Invited Speaker - Yiannis Koutedakis

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Monday, August 20, 2018

We are happy to introduce Yiannis Koutedakis, a name those in the dance medicine and science field will recognize as having published some of the seminal work on dance science! We are looking forward to what I'm sure will be a phenomenal keynote lecture this October in Helsinki!

 

 

1. Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 28th IADMS Annual Conference (#IADMS2018)? 

 

It is about bone status with focus on osteoporosis in men and women dancers. In general, osteoporosis is a bone disease caused when bone resorption exceeds bone formation.

The result of this bone remodeling imbalance is reduced bone mass and strength, changes in the microarchitecture of bone tissue, and increased fracture risk. Most affected anatomical sites: lumbar spine, femur and forearm.

 

2. Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?   

 

It is important because:

 

1.     the question of whether exposure to intensive dance training at young age may lead to long-term nutritional and metabolic health consequences remains unanswered

2.     the incidence of and risks factors for disordered eating and low bone mineral density in dancers have not been adequately described or examined

3.     Genetic variants at the Wnt/β-catenin and ER signalling pathways are potential risk factors for low BMD in dancers

 

Implications: to reconsider selection (audition) procedures

 

3. What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?

 

I have been involved in dance-science research for the last 25 years!

 

 

4. Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences?

 

 I haven’t been in an IADMS conference for a number of years!

 

5. What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?

 

To meet old colleagues and friends and discuss aspects related to dance science in a friendly environment.

 

 

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with Invited Speaker - Camilla Knight

Posted By IADMS Promotion Committee, Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Throughout August and September, we will be publishing interviews with some of our invited speakers for #IADMS2018 in Helsinki. Check out our first interview with Camilla Knight!

 

 

1. Could you tell us about your presentation theme at the 28th IADMS Annual Conference (#IADMS2018)? 

 

The focus of my presentation is on working with parents of dancers. Specifically, the presentation is focused on three key areas; 1) understanding the important role that parents play in facilitating children’s involvement in dance and supporting them through their dancing journey, 2) recognising some of the challenges or issues that parents may encounter, and 3) examining strategies to optimise parental involvement in dance and how dance practitioners work with parents. 

 

2. Why is it import to discuss this topic with the IADMS community? What are the implications of this topic to the dance sector/dance health professionals?   

 

This topic is important for the dance community because without the support and guidance from parents, most children and young people would never have the opportunity to engage in dance or to reach their potential. Parents are key influencers in their child’s life, impacting on perceptions of competence, motivation, enjoyment, and long-term engagement with activity among others. As such, working with parents to help them to optimise their involvement in their child’s dancing life is of great value to ensure that children can reach their potential while also having positive psychosocial and developmental experiences. 

 

3. What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?

 

The mission of IADMS which broadly seeks to enhance the health, well-being, and performance in dance through the development and application of science and training aligns closely with the aims of my work. My work and research with parents is driven by a desire to enhance child and young people’s psychosocial experiences in sport settings through appropriate understanding of children’s and parents’ experiences and the application of this research in practice. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to learn more from the IADMS community to further understanding about parents and their involvement within the dance community.

 

4. Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS annual conferences?

 

Although I have never personally attended the IADMS conference before, I believe there is great value in practitioners, researchers, and the broader dance community coming together for this conference. Having opportunities to share best practice and reflect on individual and collective experiences, will facilitate opportunities to enhance the development and experiences of dancers around the world.

 

5. What do you think you are most looking forward to on this year’s conference?

 

I am really looking forward to learning from individuals across the IDAMS community and having an opportunity to gain unique insights into the science and practice of dance. I am particularly excited to see how experts within the IADAMS community are managing the integration and application of science within their practice.

 

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Dance Teacher Resources and A Day for Teachers 2018

Posted By Gemma Harman on behalf of the IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Embed from Getty Images

 

With the next annual conference in Helsinki fast approaching, it seems timely to reflect back on the Dance Educators’ Committee’s blog posts that have been shared since last year’s meeting in Houston, Texas.  This year has seen a vast array of posts created by dancers, educators, researchers and clinicians on sharing the current happenings in the field of dance medicine and science specifically aimed at educators and teachers.  These have included blog posts on the use of imagery in creative practice, measuring creativity and the use of attentional focus and constructive feedback on a dancers’ training and performance. 

 

Starting in January of this year, there were a series of blog posts by experts in dance imagery and creativity.  The first post by Katie Pavlik introduced simple and immediately usable ways for us to embed the use of imagery in our classes from both teaching and dancing perspectives.  Klara Łucznik and Rebecca Weber blog on Mental Imagery and Creativity then offered ways to start practicing thinking creatively and presented ways to increase our awareness of the types of forms of mental imagery that we engage with in creative practice. As part of the In The Dancer’s Mind research project into creativity, novelty, and the imagination, the project has developed a set of workshop materials for use by higher education choreography teachers, which you can download here.  The next blog post was written by Lucie Clements and discussed the measurement of creativity.  In this blog Lucie discusses her research that set out to validate a new questionnaire that removes the emphasis on measurement of ‘creative’ or ‘not creative’ and instead emphasises engagement in the process, to give a more holistic view of dance creativity.  A second post on creativity recreated a discussion between Kerry Chappell and Jon May derived from a duel held at the symposium for the In the Dancers’ Mind project at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance on December 7, 2017. Details of the In the Dancers’ Mind project can be found here.

 

In May, Karine Rathle’s blog post explored the use of constructive feedback in optimizing dancers’ performance and learning, highlighting how knowing more about how to cue and provide feedback to dancers is an important aspect of teaching practice.   In a second blog post on feedback, Claire Guss-West provides a brief introduction to attentional focus and its potential impact on dance training and performance.  The most recent blog in June was by Martha Wiekens, introducing a brilliant new resource paper on the shoulder complex, which has been written by Lisa Donegan Shoaf and Judith Steel.  You can get the full resource paper here. Keep an eye on up and coming blog posts in the coming months – there are some great ones planned for teachers!

 

For those of you coming to Helsinki, Jarmo Ahonen, Host Committee Member has provided a great blog to give you some insight on Finland as a country and Helsinki as the capital. You can read this blog here. A Day for Teachers looks set to be a great day of informative sessions and food for thought to take back to your studio. You can see the schedule here and book here. Here's to a great conference– see you all there!

 

 

Gemma Harman, PhD, FHEA is a Senior Lecturer in Dance and Dance Science at the University of Chichester, UK.  Gemma is also an Academic Tutor at Bird College of Dance, UK and a Lecturer at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, UK.

Tags:  A Day for Teachers  Annual Conference 

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Introducing Helsinki as the next IADMS host city in October 2018!

Posted By Host Committee Member - Jarmo Ahonen, DHF, Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A little piece of history

 
This blog is to give you some insight on Finland as a country and Helsinki as the capital. Historic events went on last year and this year. Finland became independent from Russian rule 1917 just about the same time as there was the big revolution in Russia that eventually changed that huge country in to something that was later known as Soviet Union. Thus, Finland has almost 1000 miles country to country border with Russia and it only takes 4 hours by car to travel from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. Year 2017 was a big celebration of 100 years of independence. There were enmities between the countries Soviet Union and Finland from 1939 to 1944 but the border has been peaceful ever since. Finland has gravitated towards western Europe all these years and is today considered the safest and most peaceful country in the world.


This year, 2018, is a memorial year of 1918 when there was a civil war fought by the poor factory workers as well as hard labored farm workers against the land owners and factory lords. That ended up very unhappy for the poor people. However, during the same year the two opposing sides were able to sit down around the same table and start to manifest the grounds and rules for one of the best democracies in the world where we live now.


Finland is now home of 5,538,221 people, Finnish spoken as the main language and Swedish being the second official language mainly spoken on the west coast areas, across the bay from Sweden. The original cause of having two languages is based on the fact that before Russia started to rule over Finland, the country belonged to Sweden.


Education has always been considered important and Finland has 100% literacy and free education from the elementary school all the way to the university. So – everybody no matter what your back ground or financial status is, has access to high quality education and may aim as high in life as possible.



The capital city – Helsinki

 
Helsinki was established in 1550 by the delta of river Vantaa. It was maintained as a small city during the Swedish rulership, and Turku was considered as the capital because it was closer to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Today there are 630,000 people living in this old city which has grown from the firm land to the islands surrounding the city. Helsinki is located on a peninsula and is surrounded by three other cities, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa making the whole metropolitan area larger and inhabiting 1.4 million people all together.


The official languages of Helsinki are Finnish and Swedish, with the majority of the population (81.9%) speaking Finnish as their mother tongue. 5.9% of those living in the city speak Swedish and 12.2% speak a native language that's neither Finnish or Swedish. Today, Helsinki slang mainly combines influences from Finnish and English, but it traditionally had strong Russian and Swedish influences. It wasn't until 1890 that Finnish speakers overtook Swedish speakers as the majority of the city's population.


Helsinki has the highest number of immigrants in Finland, with as many as 140 nationalities represented in the city. The largest group (as of 2013) is from Sweden, followed by Russia, Estonia, China, Somalia,  Kurdistan, Germany, Spain, Vietnam, France and Turkey. Helsinki was already home to many different nationalities as far back as the 19th century, with many people from Sweden, Finland, Russia and Germany, even China. Today, foreign citizens account for 8% of the population.


Weather in Helsinki in October

 
Average temperature in October is 6 degrees (42 Fahrenheit), High 8deg (46) and Low 3deg (37). Rainfall is around 70 mm and rainy days add up to even 20 / October. So, bring your raincoat / umbrella and a warm jacket. It may still very nice autumn colors in forests and parks and on sunny days the view may be spectacular. Sea water is around 7 degrees (44) but who wants to swim in the sea when there are nice heated seawater pools right outside of the presidential castle in the heart of the city.


So please, feel yourself welcome to join us in Helsinki for IADMS Annual Conference.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Register at www.iadms.org/2018

Tags:  Annual Conference  Helsinki  IADMS2018 

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Irene Dowd: The relationship of the scapulae and thorax whilst dancing. Reflections from the IADMS Annual Meeting, Houston, 2017

Posted By Elsa Urmston on behalf of the IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee, Monday, November 20, 2017

This is the first in a series of blog posts about the shoulder. The IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee will soon be publishing a new resource paper to help dance teachers, educators and students to understand the complex anatomy, function and mechanics of the shoulder girdle.  We will include activities to aid your understanding in an applied context.  Keep an eye out for our next post.  Meanwhile, after attending a workshop focussed on optimising shoulder mechanics, specifically focussed on the relationship between the rib cage and shoulder blades, Elsa shares some of the outcomes of the session led by Irene Dowd.

 


     One of the invited speakers to the 2017 Annual Meeting in Houston was the acclaimed Irene Dowd, a respected teacher on the faculty at Juilliard teaching dance, composition, functional and kinesthetic anatomy, and neuromuscular re-education for dancers and movement teachers throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  Irene is author of Taking Root to Fly, now in its third edition and also writes for various dance and sports journals.  She has also recently published a useful, online resource titled From Spirals to Horizons: Choreographic teachings created by Irene Dowd, a digital archive of a number of her choreographies, created as fine-tuning and conditioning warm-up dances.  This is a really valuable and user-friendly resource which highlights how anatomical knowledge and awareness can be integrated into movement, and provides free access to Irene Dowd’s teachings, great for teachers and dancers alike.  It is an excellent example of the integration of research into practice and practice-as-research within a dance medicine and science domain.

 

     The focus of Irene’s workshop was on the relationship between the scapulae, or shoulder blades, and the thorax whilst dancing, a wonderful opportunity to apply our anatomical knowledge and awareness in practice, and aid full range of motion dancing in the upper limbs and trunk.  The session was built on the premise that by maintaining appropriate contact between the scapulae and outer surfaces of the rib cage during the performance of arm gestures, we can find ease and control in port de bras and partnering, and aid in the speed and power of upper limb actions. When weight bearing on the hands, the thorax spins within the "embrace" of the scapulae, so forces transmitted through the supporting hand/arm can be spread over a larger surface area of the thorax, and more directly onto the trunk.  Whether moving scapulae on thorax, or thorax on scapulae, an aesthetic desire for the audience to see the "line of the back" uninterrupted by the appearance of "winging" scapulae is served. In addition, by avoiding scapular winging the mechanics of the shoulder itself are optimized.  No bony relationship exists between the scapulae and the back, and it is this that helps to provide such a large range of motion at the shoulder. When the shoulder is stabilized, the positions of the glenoid cavity (the socket of the joint) and the head of the humerus, or upper arm bone, (the ball of the joint) are optimized for maximum efficiency in the full range of movement of the arm.  More on the anatomy and mechanics of the shoulder joint in later posts, although see the list of further resources below for more scientific explanations on the role of the scapulae and associated musculature.

 

     Our workshop began with a gentle raising of our awareness of the bones comprising the shoulder girdle by looking at models of the scapulae and humerus, to remind ourselves of the movement mechanics at the gleno-humeral joint.  By observing and feeling a partner’s scapulae, we were able to notice the differences between us, how big or small this flat, irregular bone can be, and also the differences we have within our own bodies from right to left side.  This multi-directional engraved image of a scapula helps to conceptualise the bone from numerous angles.  Whilst looking at the image, have someone find the outside edges of one of your scapula, notice its inferior (lowest), sharp angle pointing down to the waist; trace the edge into the armpit area and upwards on the side nearest the spine; and find the top line of the scapula.  What angle do you notice the scapula resting on your rib cage; and can you sense the scapula resting on the outer surface of the ribcage itself?

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

     Of course, as a dancer the trouble we have, is that we never see our own scapulae, we feel them, and more often than not the knots which can accumulate in the trapezius and subscapularis!  By noticing our own shoulder blades through the touch from a partner, and seeing and feeling other’s scapulae, an immediate awareness to that area of the body was enabled.  Irene was aiming to enhance our proprioception of when we are accurately achieving and sustaining scapular approximation with the thorax as it "orbits" around the rib cage, despite our inability to see.  We have a really useful resource paper on proprioception if you want to learn more.

Finding length and breadth
We found length through the spine by placing our hands onto our partner’s head, gently resting and noticing the curvature of the skull beneath our palms.  As the hands lifted away, the sensation of release through the trunk brought about a feeling of lengthening and opening, and by placing the backs of the hands on the sides of the ribcage and releasing a low hum through gently pursed lips, we felt the ribcage widen and reverberate.  These activities brought about an awareness of the outside surface of the ribcage itself, but also for me a sense of its volume too, rotating and encircling around the length of the spine.

Getting the arms to 5th
Irene talked about rotating the scapulae down and under, especially when taking the arms up to 5th, envisioning the outside edge of the humerus dropping downwards, rather like the greater trochanter of the femur dropping down when we lift the leg to second position.  By placing the partner’s hands on the scapulae as you perform this motion, the shoulders fall downwards implicitly, and the scapulae widen across the back rather than pinch together.

Widening the scapulae to open the arms
A number of tasks helped to find breadth across the back and enabled the scapulae to widen, rather than pinch together, especially when raising the arms to second position.  Again, we drew on our growing awareness of different bony landmarks and musculature through imagery cues and hands-on activity.  This helped us to engage in open- and closed-chain movement of the scapulae on the thorax and the thorax on the scapulae, whilst enabling spine stabilisation and in particular, ‘wake-up’ the serratus anterior muscle.  The aim throughout was to avoid the scapulae winging backwards and interrupting the line of the spine.  

1.    With our hands on our shoulders and elbows out to the side and slightly forwards, our partners pressed on the edges of the elbow joint for a short time; the effect was that when the lower arms opened to second from the shoulders, the support was felt very firmly from the back and the arms felt broad and wide as the scapulae glided across the ribcage.  

2.    By gently pressing on our partner’s acromion process at the superior, lateral edge of the scapulae, we were encouraged to expand into the touch we felt; for me this was the most powerful image of the day, the widening of the front and back surfaces of the trunk, and rooting of the scapulae down and wide was very tangible.  You can feel for your own acromion process - on many people it is quite prominent as the bony protrusion on top of the shoulder.

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3.     By facing our partner and gently pressing our fingertips together, we were encouraged first to notice the subtle changes in pressure, warmth and constancy of touch. It was important to allow time for this tuning in to occur. We brought our arms up towards 5th position and gently opened the arms to 2nd, lightly pressing throughout. This time by focussing on the motion of the end of the limb, rather than the shoulder joint or scapulae/thorax relationship per se, again a widening sensation across the back was achieved.

When the scapulae pinch together, or ‘wing’ it is often the serratus anterior which lacks strength or control and this can affect the line of the back especially when weight bearing or lifting.

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Strengthening the serratus anterior
By facing our partner again and placing both hands together, we stood arms length from each other.  We let the elbows soften slowly and under control, rather like a standing press-up.  My elbows touched my partner’s elbows, and all the time we focussed on the scapulae widening.  The challenge was to try and maintain this width as we pushed away from one another with control.  An advancement of the activity was to repeat the exercise with only our right hands touching, softening the elbow once more and aiming the elbow towards our hearts.  Not only did this support the focus of the scapulae/ thorax relationship and begin to strengthen the serratus anterior, it also required trunk stabilisation and control.

By introducing and consolidating our anatomical awareness, drawing on proprioception cues through our own touch or that of others, and offering imagery-based instructions, Irene demonstrated the importance of scapulae/thorax relationships in the effective mechanics of the shoulder girdle.  Irene’s publications are an invaluable resource to draw upon in lesson planning, rehearsal and the creation of movement ideas, to be able to experience her wisdom in a workshop setting added a multi-dimensional and applied perspective to embedding the principles of anatomy and kinesiology to dance-based movement.
This is the first in a series of blog posts about the shoulder girdle.  The IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee will soon be publishing a new resource paper on the shoulder, to help dance teachers, educators and students to understand the complex anatomy of the shoulder girdle.  We will include activities to aid your understanding in an applied context.  Keep an eye out for our next post.

Further Resources
Dowd, I. (1990). Taking root to fly. Northampton, MA: Contact Editions.

Dowd, I. (2016).  From spirals to horizons: Choreographic teachings created by Irene Dowd.

Martin, R. M., & Fish, D. E. (2008). Scapular winging: anatomical review, diagnosis, and treatments. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, 1(1), 1–11.


Paine, R., & Voight, M. L. (2013). THE ROLE OF THE SCAPULA. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 8(5), 617–629.

Sweigard, L. E. (1974). Human Movement Potential: Its Ideokinetic Facilitation. New York: Allegro Editions.

The Thinking Body website provides a range of information about Irene Dowd’s work specifically and other practitioners working in this field.  It also charts the development of the work which informs much of Irene’s practice from Mabel Todd and Lulu Sweigard.  A comprehensive bibliography of Irene’s writings is also annotated here.

There are numerous clips of Dowd’s work on youtube as well.

Elsa Urmston MSc, PGCAP, AFHEA is a Dance Educator based in the UK.  She is the Chair of the IADMS Dance Educators’ Committee and sits on the One Dance UK expert panel for Children and Young People.  She works with a wide range of institutions including Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Dance, London Contemporary Dance School and Bird College.
Elsa's Wordpress





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