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Mara Brenner, Founder and director of Gabriola Dance and Pilates, shares her experiences of her first IADMS conference

Posted By Mara Brenner on behalf of the Dance Educators Committee, Tuesday, July 7, 2020


I danced for 15 years with Miss Barbara in a small culturally isolated, mostly Jewish, anglophone suburb of Montreal. There were almost no guest teachers. There were no competitions or discussions of anatomy. There was no awareness of certification or exams. There was however a love of dance and a history of excellence.


After graduation, while in my post-secondary education and at university in British Columbia, it rarely occurred to me to seek out dance classes. I settled on a small remote island and started a family. Then I got an itch—I wanted to dance! I asked about classes at local recreation centre who said, “No, sorry. Could you teach?”. And so it began. Slowly, I started a dance school. With my passion reignited I began to learn; to fill in some gaps. I found that I have a magnetic relationship with anatomy and science and soaked up my Pilates certification.


Now, 25 years later, I have attended my first IADMS conference. I watched throughout the years as it toured the world and when it landed in my home town I seized the opportunity. Living in a remote town (like my teacher before me), accessing hands on learning is difficult, so what a treat for me to attend an IADMS conference!


During the conference I met so many interesting presenters and formed professional relationships. I even had one presenter, Erika Mayall, come from Vancouver to offer a workshop and private sessions with my dancers. Erika focused on turnout and worked with my senior ballet dancers. She brought in turnout boards for measurements which was a new experience for the students. As a physio she also saw some dancers privately and helped with some at-home programs.

Almost 6 months post conference and I’m still having “light bulb moments” from the sessions I attended. Often, I apply them to Pilates first, as it’s my scientific nature to rip everything apart into tiny pieces. This was the case from the final lecture session on Breathing and the performance athlete, led by Jessica DeMars. Wow, that changed so much for me! For example, the knowledge I gained about the importance of nose breathing wasn’t in-line with my Pilates training but after having instituted it, I find that my dancers are connecting much more effectively with their pelvic floor muscles. From a workshop at IADMS with Suzanne Koucheravy, I have also helped several young dancers discover that they have scoliosis, and with the proper medical care they are dancing pain-free now!


The feeling of elation I get as a teacher every time I help a student improve, and it leads to building up their passion for dance, is indescribable. It’s addictive actually, as is learning, and I can’t wait for my next IADMS conference to further fuel my love of teaching!

Tags:  Annual Conference  pilates 

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Helsinki in Retrospect: Movement Session/Partner-Based Bodymind Warm-up

Posted By Meredith Lyons on behalf of the Dance Educators’ Committee, Monday, September 23, 2019

In preparation for #IADMS2019 in Montreal I was excited to reflect on a presentation I did with Betsy Miller last year in Helsinki at #IADMS2018. Movement sessions provide an important venue for hands-on application of research and group feedback.




Betsy Miller and I presented on how somatics has become commonplace in dance academia curricula. We discussed the importance of somatic movement patterns in connection to improvisation and partner work in undergraduate, graduate and professional dance studies. However, even as collaborators, Miller and I came to the conclusion that we have differing viewpoints on how to approach and teach these fundamentals. As we unpacked our movement histories and dance lineage of educators and choreographers, we found that the common landing place for us was the importance of somatic based partnership, which is what we taught in Helsinki. 

When looking at Thomas Hanna’s definition of somatics ‘the art and science of the inter-relational process between awareness, biological function and the environment, with all three factors understood as a synergistic whole’ (Fitt 1996: 303), questions formed on how to incorporate all three factors: What exercises help bring attention to both body and mind in relation to our individual selves and partner(s)? What are some key exercises/movement patterns to warm up our individual selves, while staying in tune to the partner(s) in space? Is physical touch essential in warming up the body to partnership? How does improvisation play a role? How can imagery be used within set movement material and improvised movement to prepare for partnership in dance? What are essential building blocks in the teaching of dance somatics? What are important takeaways? Is this even possible for participants in a conference setting, with limited time, and resources? As we distilled our thoughts we came to the conclusion that not only is somatics an important factor in improvisation and partner work, but the body and mind have a complicated and complex dualistic relationship. The purpose of the session was to provide participants with a framework and specific exercises to integrate somatics and partnering skills into a contemporary dance technique class, while promoting effective, healthy and mindful approaches to training and treating dancers.



We first started the movement session by guiding participants in a floor based individual warm-up that combined elements of somatic principles such as Bartenieff Fundamentals, Feldenkreis, and Skinner release technique and that included imagery and experiential anatomy (these somatic techniques are commonly used in the modern dance classroom and are described at the end of this post). This later moved into physical touch in a partner-based warm-up that incorporated initiation with minimal weight sharing that could later be used for contemporary/modern dance classes. Throughout the movement sessions participants engaged in somatic exercises as either a mover or facilitator to explore possibilities for movement initiation, pathways, effort, weight, and mind/body integration. Throughout the workshop, Miller and I shared both set material and guided improvisation scores that were designed to enhance bodily awareness, mindfulness, specificity and efficiency, as well as prepare dancers for potential rigorous contemporary phrase work. The movement pathway of the session started from the floor, that led to the bodies moving up through and across the space. These movement pathways executed a wide range of partnering with both contact and non-verbal initiation, that allowed for individual improvisation within the duet. Somatic approaches such as Bartenieff Fundamentals, Feldenkreis, and Skinner release technique placed focus on releasing soft tissue while teaching the body to move freely without restrictions, instilling dynamic play and precision. The reported benefits ranged widely from improved range of motion, strength and alignment, to neuromuscular efficiency. Dancers stand to benefit holistically from cultivating an approach to movement that integrated body and mind experience. The movement session highlighted the relationship between initiation, pathways, effort, weight, and body-mind integration, with reference to execution in a wide range of contemporary dance techniques and partnering. Participants moved freely with one another, at moments finding autonomy while also bridging connections across the room. It was wonderful to witness the diversity of movement in space, exchange in the room, and the care given to not only their individual selves but to one another.


As I think back to the conference and our movement session, I keep coming back to the reference point that somatics is at the heart and soul of what we do as movers in contemporary dance practice. As a presenter I gained insight and feedback on how to continue to apply this movement session to students in higher education and the general public. What I found amazing was how open, willing and excited participants were to share in the dynamic play of partnership. The amount of risk they took within their own embodied logic, and in partnership, was such a joy to witness. It was a wonderful reminder that the continual practice of focusing on the inner locus of control incorporates not only the body, but the mind and spirit. It is what moves us as dancers and in partner work and helps us share the dance that we love and the dance that we seek.




Meredith Lyons, MFA, Full Apparatus Certified Pilates Instructor

2019 Performing Arts Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Dominica

Assistant Professor of Dance, Colorado Mesa University

Dance educator, scholar, Pilates instructor. Dance Pedagogy research informed by studies of Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Pilates, Yoga, Improvisation, Administration, Dance History, Choreography, Body Mind Centering, Experiential Anatomy, Kinesiology and Nutrition for Dancers.


Betsy Miller, MFA, Assistant Professor of Dance, Salem State University

Dance artist, scholar and educator. Pedagogical approach informed by studies of somatic modalities including yoga, Body Mind Centering, Spiraldynamik, Bartenieff Fundamentals and experiential anatomy.



A. Olsen. The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making. Wesleyan

University Press; 2014.


Geber P, Wilson M. Teaching at the interface of dance science and somatics. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science. 2010;14(2):50–57.


Fortin S, Vieira A, Tremblay M. The experience of discourses in dance and somatics. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices. 2009;1(1):47–64.


Batson G, Schwartz RE. Revisiting the value of somatic education in dance training through an inquiry into practice schedules. Journal of Dance Education. 2007;7(2):47–56.


Eddy M. Dance and somatic inquiry in studios and community dance programs. Journal of Dance Education. 2002;2(4):119–127


Fitt SS. Dance Kinesiology. 2. New York: Schirmer Books; 1996.


Useful Descriptions:

Bartenieff Fundamentals


Skinner Release Technique

Body Mind Centering

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018: A Dance Teacher’s Perspective

Posted By Fiona Wallis on behalf of the IADMS Dance Educators' Committee, Monday, December 10, 2018

I’ve been teaching ballet for over twenty years (the last twelve in Higher Education) and have been aware of IADMS for some time. 2018, however, was the year that I decided to make direct contact with this organisation and began to consider how dance science might enhance my studio-based practice. As a new member of IADMS, I was encouraged by Dance Science colleagues at The University of Chichester to attend the 2018 Helsinki conference. My hope was that it would provide much needed space to pause and reflect on my own practice, to consolidate knowledge, and to consider new ideas that aim to improve the learning and teaching experience in the dance studio.

From the beginning, the schedule was packed with a range of research presentations and practical/movement sessions; a testament to the diversity of research practices within the dance science community. From the wide array of topics over the four days of the conference, it is difficult to identify specific highlights. Furthermore, I am certain that, in the coming weeks and months, knowledge gleaned will permeate subtly into my own teaching. As a dance educator, I found the practical sessions in particular most useful, providing a valuable opportunity to consider how research that is situated within the domain of dance science might be applied directly to a studio setting.


Included in these highlights was Javier Torres’s session, ‘Breathing patterns and their use in ballet’, which considered the harmonious interaction between breath and ballet’s codified vocabulary.  Consideration was given to the release of tension when breathing out; how exhaling when performing actions that require greater muscular effort relaxes the chest and enhances the flow of movement. Although I have considered this application of breathing to my own practice before, Torres also emphasised the connection between appropriate breathing patterns and core stability. Thus, how breath is connected to strength and the facilitation of optimal performance. I found the principles from this session extremely relevant and a closer exploration of the benefits of conscious breathing to performance can be easily incorporated into a technique class.

Spirals, particularly in the torso, and the three-dimensionality of the dancer are fundamental principles in my own ballet and SAFE® BARRE classes, so I was particularly interested in Shonach Mirk Robles’ session on the Spiraldynamik® concept and the three-dimensional foot. Foot massages – as well as being a real treat – enabled us to explore more closely the structure of the foot. In particular the importance of the two longitudinal arches and the anterior transverse arch in weight bearing, how the notion of a spiral of energy from the foot into the leg can focus our attention on correct lower limb alignment. As a teacher who works predominately in ballet, safe practice when standing in turn out is key. This session, provided me with a new way of considering correct alignment, working up from the feet into the lower limbs, rather than down from the hip, emphasised correct weight placement into the floor thereby enhancing balance.

As suggested above, the ability to apply knowledge and ideas from specific sessions directly into the studio, for me, became the marker of a ‘good’ session. Agathe Dumont’s class on warming up and cooling down focused on giving students autonomy during this process and I came away with specific tools that I look forward to using in the near future. Similarly Alicia Head’s practical lecture on the biomechanics of an arabesque and Katy Chambers’ session on neuromuscular activation patterns whet the appetite for future explorations into biomechanics and neurological bias.


Whilst the practical sessions provided much needed ‘food’ for my teaching and research, I found the presentations to be less immediately applicable.  Indeed, although the application of dance science to specific dance movements or training methods were explored (for example, uncovering joint angle coordination strategies in pirouettes), I was left wondering how this knowledge was applied to the dancers in order to improve their skills. Perhaps the length of each presentation (only 15 minutes) prevented the ‘what next …’ scenario being explored but it is this application of knowledge that is so crucial to a dance educator and trainer.


Notwithstanding, when I did venture into these lecture spaces, I had the pleasure of seeing colleagues from the University of Chichester articulate their research on a range of topics including training load (Sarah Needham-Beck), the notion of the performer in relation to a sense of self (Gemma Harman), and performance anxiety (Lucie Clements). I, therefore, look forward to working with these individuals and exploring how their dance science research can have a positive and direct impact on the curriculum that we deliver at Chichester.


In conclusion my first experience of an IADMS conference was definitely a positive one. As a dance teacher, I’m very aware that, if I don’t regularly gain new ideas and inspiration, my practice can become stagnant. Although it was a luxury to take four days away from home close to the beginning of the academic year, the conference provided me with key tools that can be applied to my studio practice and I have returned to Chichester with new ideas that I am excited to explore with my students. IADMS also enabled me to meet new people (dance scientists, teachers, performers etc.) who are all passionate about dance practice, performance, and wellbeing. No doubt between now and the next conference, I will have many opportunities to keep in touch and share ideas with these new friends.


Final thoughts:

1) Making the effort to travel to Helsinki was definitely worth it. I came away tired but definitely refreshed and ready to start work again.

2) I was glad I was wearing comfy shoes! The conference was packed and I needed to move quickly (sometimes run) from one session to the next.

3) It was not all work … dinner and wine plus cups of tea in Helsinki’s Moomin café with new friends were not to be missed


Fiona Wallis MA is a dance educator and PhD researcher specializing in ballet technique. She is a Senior Lecturer at The University of Chichester and is also a certified instructor in the SAFE® BARRE method.

Tags:  A Day for Teachers  Annual Conference  teachers 

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My First IADMS - Magical Helsinki

Posted By Steffi Hai-Jung Shih on behalf of the IADMS Promotion Committee, Monday, November 26, 2018

Despite a long, overnight trip delay as well as a baggage delay, I was immediately in love with the IADMS conference and its community the very first day. I’ve been looking forward to participating in the IADMS conference ever since I became a PhD student, when I heard about the conference from Danielle and Michael who are actively participating and spoke highly about it.


Pictured: Steffi Hai-Jung Shih (left), Danielle Jarvis (center), and Michael Rowley (right)


I was honored and lucky to have been selected as one of the student research award winners, but I definitely did not expect to be cued to improvise in front of everyone during the opening remarks by MJ… Although this certainly made it a lot easier for me to make new friends throughout the conference, so thank you, MJ, as well as Harkness who sponsored this award! I was also invited to the research committee meeting to experience firsthand how the committee works. A big thank you to Jatin, Tom, and all the committee members for inviting us, and I truly appreciate the hard work that goes into selecting the award winners and all the other initiatives behind the scenes. 



The diversity and quality of the scientific content was really impressive, I loved how different professionals who truly care about dance and dancers’ health could interact and have an open conversation about various topics. I was proud to present my analysis on our lab’s collaborative project on dancers with flexor hallucis tendinopathy, and I was able to receive lots of very helpful feedback from experts in different areas. I was very excited and a little bit nervous about this talk as this was my first solo research podium!



Another highlight of the conference —  movement sessions. We are all movers and I thought movement sessions are great for us to learn by doing. Moving along with fellow attendees to learn about pilates and neurokinetic therapy for dancers, management of shin splints and posterior ankle impingement, and many more, was quite a blast. The social events were also spot on! I enjoyed the dance performance very much, as well as the reception and the renowned IADMS dance party.



I got to also enjoy Helsinki a little bit, the beautiful park right across the hotel has spectacular colors (we don’t have this autumn/winter view in Los Angeles), salmon soup at the Fazer Cafe was delicious, the Moomin cafe was very cute (and I even ran into a fellow IADMS attendee Nicola and her family, who wrote the previous blog about getting ready for IADMS where she mentioned her family will be hunting Moomins). Going back to daily routine was quite hard, I had a magical time at IADMS in Helsinki and hope to see everyone in future years!


Steffi Hai-Jung Shih is a PhD candidate in the University of Southern California's Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. 

Tags:  Annual Conference 

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Getting ready for IADMS 2018

Posted By Nicola Stephens, Monday, October 22, 2018


It’s nearly time for IADMS 2018 and I am getting excited. I’ve got tape packed for the shin-pain workshop I am presenting with my fantastic colleague Amanda, who is just starting out on her dance medicine career. Encouraging her to come along and co-present got me reflecting upon my years of being an IADMS member. Helsinki is the 8th IADMS I have attended, and this year both my husband and daughter will be coming with me. We are planning a sightseeing break around the conference, so any tips on must see sights, especially with an 8-year-old in tow would be welcome. The two of them intend to hunt for Moomins whilst I work. 

My first IADMS was 19 years ago when I, like Amanda, was just embarking on a career in dance medicine. At this first conference I met many people passionate about the need to enable the healthier dancer and remember feeling excited to be able to hear all these amazing speakers, and humbled to talk to them afterwards. I received so much encouragement which helped me forward my career and I came away from Tring (IADMS 1999) having found my tribe! Oh, and my future husband…

Hence, IADMS is a special place for us as Leon and I did meet at our first IADMS. We bonded over frisbee on the lawn (ooops…sorry, yes, those footprints in the dew were ours!) and water fights at midnight in the corridors of the boarding school with other (now) quite prominent IADMS members. The infamous party night that year only had the DJ booked until 10pm. But a little whip around by my (now) husband enabled it to be extended it until late and a tradition was born. IADMS 2003 (Laban) formed part of our honeymoon, and our IADMS baby attended her first conference in 2010 (Birmingham). 

I’ve had the pleasure & privilege to present at 3 previous IADMS conferences and will be presenting again twice this year. It is through organisations such as IADMS that I have been able to network and make the connections that have made collaborations on research and best practice possible. I am so grateful for these opportunities and would say to any new IADMS members that the networking opportunities are as valuable, if not more so, that the actual conference content itself. Through IADMS I have made friends in all corners of the world, colleagues who I can call upon their expertise when needed and who in turn occasionally pick my brain too. And now with the app, it’s even easier to “speak” to someone, so even for the shy, or people who have a language barrier – the networking is made so much more accessible. You may even win a free conference place for next year by using the app like I did in Hong Kong! Who knows, it may even be the place to meet your future partner…?!!!

Anyhow, back to the packing. Our suitcase has to fit in 27 cuddly toys, warm clothes for 3 and make sure there’s space on the return journey for a Moomintroll or otherwise! Moominmama, it appears, I am not. Well, not today!     

See you all in Helsinki. Safe travels.    

Tags:  Annual Conference  IADMS family 

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IADMS 2018: Networking tips

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Monday, October 15, 2018

Top tips for networking


As we approach our 28th Annual Conference, we’ve been putting together a few tips for networking that we hope will help you to feel confident in starting conversations and making new connections:



1.     Plan your attack. Look at the conference programme to get a feel of what’s happening when…and who will be where. This gives you a chance to make a (mental or physical) list of the sessions you’re interested in attending or the professionals you’re hoping to connect with. Once you have your list, do your research. You don’t have to conduct a full-fledged background check, but you should know enough about conference presenters, moderators, and attendees to easily strike up a conversation with them at any coffee break. (See the complete IADMS conference schedule here.)



2.     Have something to offer. A business card, a bold elevator speech, a snazzy outfit—give the people you meet something to remember you by. Tossing people squares of paper may seem like an antiquated way of exchanging contact information, especially in our LinkedIn era, but a well-crafted business card could set you apart from the crowd. If you don’t have a tangible representation of who you are, leave a lasting impression with confidence and style. It may seem cheesy, but practice introducing yourself into a mirror (or other inanimate object of your choosing) before you enter the conference space. Fashion a few words that make succinct who you are and what you’re currently interested in, and while you’re at it, piece together your wardrobe strategically. A tie tessellated with your alma-mater’s insignia or an intricately jewelled brooch picked up on your travels across Scotland could be an easy identifier and a perfect conversation-starter.



3.     Be the Question-Master. Questions are the functional spine of conferences, and for good reason. A well-crafted question that demonstrates deep understanding and genuine intrigue could spark the kind of dialogue gives rise to lifelong research collaborations. However, divining a good question on the spot can be daunting. When all seems to fail or an awkward silence shrouds a conversation, have a list of ready questions to pull from. For example, what’s an opportunity they wish they would’ve taken, what advice they would give when working in ____, or what first made them interested in____.



4.     Remember: Everyone is human. Whether you’re a young mind or a seasoned professional, you’ve probably experienced the trepidation and anxiety that comes with approaching a person to strike up a conversation that may lead to an exchange of contacts. But despite the advice presented here, you don’t necessarily have to open with a revolutionarily thought-provoking question or über-complimentary greeting. Sometimes, a simple “hi” and a smile will suffice. Even if you’re new to the conference scene, don’t underestimate the value of the knowledge you already have. Work with what you’ve got.



5.     Keep it fresh. Say your conversation did in fact lead to an exchange of contacts (hooray!), don’t let the opportunity pass. Try to send a follow-up “nice to meet you” email (or tweet or digital what-have-you) to those you hope to stay in contact with within 24 hours of meeting them. This ensures that you remain fresh in the contact’s mind and increases your likelihood for future communication.



We hope to make your visit in Helsinki as enjoyable as possible, if you are traveling from out of the country visit our facebook page to connect with others who are travelling: 




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IADMS 2018: Preparing for the conference

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Monday, October 15, 2018

Getting ready for the conference: Students and Young Professionals

The annual conference is fast approaching and it’s time to start making plans. This year the conference takes place in the exciting city of Helsinki, Finland. Here are a few things we’ve been thinking about in preparation for heading to Helsinki…


Connecting with other students

The IADMS annual conference offers a unique opportunity to connect with peers and professionals who specialise in dance medicine and science. Here’s our top tips on how to make the most of this opportunity…


Top tips

      Attend the student social – this is a great way to meet other students at the beginning of the conference even begins!

      Connect on social media! Check out our facebook page and connect with other students before you even get to the conference!

      Attend a roundtable – this can be a great way to meet other students and professionals in your area. There is also the student roundtable, an opportunity to discuss key issues with students in dance medicine and science

      Check out the student networking session – this session brings together professionals from a wide range of dance medicine and science disciplines and gives you an opportunity to meet peers in your research area and to get to know the professionals in your area too.

      Networking – put yourself out there and try to talk to as many new faces as possible. The IADMS conference is a great place to make new connections and to talk to professionals who are as passionate about dance science as you are!

      Introduce yourself to the Student Committee - we’re really friendly and love getting to know others who share our passions ☺We’ll have a table in the exhibit hall this year, pop by and say hello and hear about what the student committee are up to!


Getting the most out of the conference

In addition to connecting with other students and professionals you want to make sure that you get the most out of what’s on offer at the conference and in the city of Helsinki.


Top tips

      Attend a variety of sessions not just your main area and try to sit down with the conference schedule before you go and plan out the sessions you want to check out

      Be brave – ask questions during the sessions and get involved!

      If you don’t fancy asking questions during the formal sessions, attend a roundtable. The roundtable is a great opportunity to engage in discussion with a smaller group of people on a more specific topic.

      Make the most of your breaks – use this time to try to get to know new people at the conference.

      Make the most of any free time to explore the city – this is one of the perks of being a part of an international association!


Student Events

Getting involved with student events can really help you to make the most out of your time at the conference and the events we have on offer mean that you can get to know some new people right at the beginning of the conference!


Student social

Our student social is a great way to meet other students before the meeting begins and to network with Dance Medicine and Science students from across the globe! For this years’ student social we have lined up a special treat for our student delegates! A backstage tour of the Finnish National Ballet Company and a chance to hear about their Healthy Dancer Programme. We will then head to the conference welcome drinks and on to grab pizza and a drink afterwards. Meet us at 6pm on Thursday 25th October in the hotel lobby.


Other student events and sessions include our student and young professionals networking event, the student roundtable and a workshop session: Dance Science in the Digital Age.


Tags:  Annual Conference 

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Student perspectives: Dance Science in Finland

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Monday, October 15, 2018

Student perspectives: Dance Science in Finland

With the Helsinki conference fast-approaching we were excited to talk to Finnish dance science student Oonasofia (Sofia) Saukkonen to find out more about the dance science scene in Finland! Sofia is a physiotherapist and dance scientist who graduated with an MSc from the University of Bedfordshire, UK in 2017. Currently, Sofia is working on a number of research projects, in addition to completing her BA in Dance Teaching at a Finnish university.



 - How did you first get interested in dance science/medicine?


Sofia: I am a physiotherapist and a dance scientist. The dance studio was my second home ever since I stepped there for the first time as a three-year old. As a teenager I started to dream of a professional career in dance and along the way, while working as a dancer and a dance teacher, I developed an interest in the functioning and biomechanics of the human body. I became a physiotherapist. After this, an MSc in dance science allowed me to deepen my understanding of dance practice from physiological, psychological, and biomechanical perspectives.



- Are you currently working on any research? Can you give us your elevator pitch about your research area?

Sofia: My forthcoming research will investigate improving dancers’ turnout, following my dissertation which focused on the same area. I am keen to better understand how dancers’ alignment may improve or deteriorate their performance, as well as its relation with injuries. I am also highly interested in the benefits of dance training for the non-dancing populations and how dance could benefit different groups of people used both in rehabilitation and as preventative practice.



- What are your plans now you've graduated?


Sofia: I graduated with an MSc from the University of Bedfordshire, UK in 2017 after which I have been doing some teaching at the university and focusing on a dance film project. The project is done in cooperation with a Finnish association run by women living with cancer (Siskot ry). Simultaneously I am finishing a BA in Dance Teaching in a Finnish university and planning my next research project that I will carry out in Finland. In the future, I hope to provide the Finnish dance community with information of dancers’ training and well-being, based on dance scientific research – in Finnish language.



- Can you tell us a bit about the dance medicine and science ‘scene’ in Finland?


Sofia: As mentioned before, I did my MSc in dance science in the UK. This programme does not exist in Finland. Instead, specializing in dance medicine e.g. for a physiotherapist happens often having background in dance, and by making the right choices during and after studies; with internships and dissertation subjects one has an opportunity to choose a path in dance medicine.

The key organization in dance medicine and science in Finland is DHF (Dance Health Finland ry). DHF works in promoting the well-being of Finnish dance students and professionals, but also aims to enhance the knowledge of Finnish health professionals working in the dance field. DHF also has a register for professionals working in the dance medicine field for dancers to easily find the right help as needed. We have some great experts specialized in dance medicine.



- What can you tell us about the arts and dance in Finland?


Sofia: In Finland, there are tens of thousands of recreational dancers. Professional dance activities, especially the number of companies and choreographers have grown strongly in recent decades. With a population of only 5.5 million people there are still many educational paths for one to aspire to a professional career in dance; four vocational schools and four universities offering higher education. Finnish professional dancer education is of a high standard and the dancers and choreographers often find employment not only in Finland but also internationally. They work in performing and increasingly also in other art-based activities such as community dance projects.

There are regional dance centres aiming to improve dancers’ employment, to increase dancers’ working possibilities, and supporting dancers’ collaboration; many professional organizations exist to support dance professionals in their work e.g. in providing training possibilities, developing the quality of dance education, or offering help in law-related matters. For a small country there is a great variety of dance festivals around the year. There is a magazine of the artists, phenomena and ideas on the Finnish dance scene publishes in English called ‘Finnish Dance in Focus’.

Probably the greatest and most important ongoing project now in dance in Finland is the Dance House Helsinki project. The Dance House will open its doors in 2020 and aims to help Helsinki become one of the leading cities of dance in Europe and worldwide. It will be open for all forms of dance providing versatile opportunities for collaboration, performance spaces, and high-level programme hoping to increase the number of dance spectators as well as international visits to Finland.



- What would you say to a student thinking of attending this year’s annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland?


Sofia: Helsinki is a vibrant and laid-back yet active city with charming architecture. One third of Helsinki is covered in green areas. It can be easily explored by foot and close to the conference venue you can find interesting places to visit whether you are into contemporary art (Kiasma), museums (The National Museum of Finland), walks in green parks next to water (City Park Hesperian Puisto), restaurants, or shopping in the centre. Within walking distance there are also the. Helsinki Music Centre and Finnish National Opera.

Public transportation is easy to use, and you will get along in English no matter where you go as most Finns speak fluent English. Last year the lowest temperature was -5°C and the highest +14°C in October so I guess it is good to be prepared for anything! Finland is a country with 188 000 lakes, the Northern Lights, and it is said to be the greenest country in the world. It is the home of Santa Claus, and one of the few countries where lost wallets often get returned to their owners. Not only is the IADMS Conference itself a great reason to visit Helsinki but if willing, you will find exciting things to explore and iconic places to see on your free time. I warmly welcome you to my home country!


For more information in English:

Dance Health Finland (DHF):

Dance House Helsinki:

Dance Info Finland:

(Dance education, festivals, residencies, organizations, companies, and choreographers etc.)


Guides and Things to Do in Helsinki:



Tags:  5 Questions With  Annual Conference 

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Student and Young Professional Events at IADMS 2018

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Monday, October 15, 2018

Our annual conference is fast approaching and there are some exciting student events this year!

Here’s a rundown of what not to miss if you’re a student or young professional heading to Helsinki this month…


Dance Science in the Digital Age

What? A workshop-style session focusing on the professional development of our student members through sharing real stories and experiences from early career dance medicine and science professionals with a focus on social media and online entrepreneurship.

When? Thursday 25th October, 5.00pm - 5.30pm

Where? Room Explore


Student and Young Professional Networking Workshop

What? An opportunity for students to connect with professionals and to build networks in their area of interest.

When? Thursday 25th October, 5.30pm - 6.00pm

Where? Room Explore


Student Social

Our student social is a great way to meet new faces at the beginning of the conference and to network with Dance Science students from across the globe!

What? This year we have a special treat lined up for our student delegates! A backstage tour of the Finnish National Ballet Company and a chance to hear about their Healthy Dancer Programme. We will then head to the conference welcome drinks and on to grab pizza and a drink afterwards.

When? Thursday 25th October, Finnish National Ballet Company Tour/Talk 6pm-7.30pm,

IADMS Welcome Drinks 7.30-9pm, Pizza and drinks, 9pm

Where? Meet at 6pm in the conference hotel lobby we will walk over together to the National Ballet. Pizza and drinks at Linko PizzaBar (a short walk from the welcome drinks).


Student Committee exhibit table

What? For the first time this year the student committee have an exhibit table. Come and find us among all the other exhibitors, meet your student committee, find out about upcoming initiatives such as mentorship and student affiliates and let us know what you think about the conference and what we can do in the future to help students to get the most out of it.

When? We will be manning the table in all of the conference breaks, grab a tea and come and say hello to your student committee!

Where? Exhibit Hall


Student Roundtable

What? An opportunity to gain insights from an international group of students on a range of topics and issues affecting students of dance medicine and science. Also a great opportunity to meet the IADMS student committee, hear about upcoming initiatives for IADMS student members and let them know what things you would like to see on offer in the future!

When? Friday 27th October, 1.30pm-3.30pm

Where? Room Imagine




Tags:  Annual Conference 

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IADMS 2018 Helsinki: Interview with 'A Day For Teachers' Speaker - Martin Puttke

Posted By IADMS Dance Educators' Committee, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Martin Puttke


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


The explosive development of virtuosity and technique in contemporary dance/ballet frequently encounters not only the dancer’s physical limitation but also, and most importantly, the limitations of conventional teaching methods. Occasionally choreographers forget that performers have to incorporate their creations, which very often means that the latter have to hurl defiance at their physical boundaries - resulting in health problems or even hindering their artistic performance. In this presentation I will show the basic concept of my innovative teaching and working method in classical ballet. In order to respond pedagogically and methodically to the problem above mentioned, I will make use of a special kinematic analysis of dance elements by using a method of analysis borrowed from linguistic studies: The lexical function of the so-called morphemes. In any language, the smallest indivisible and yet meaningful unit of a word is called morpheme. The human motor system consists of just such comparable smallest units of a movement, what I call motor-morphemes. These motor-morphemes constitute any human movement, regardless of whether one is walking, lifting something, does sports or, for the purpose of this study, dancing. They are the core precept of every artistic movement, in classical as well as in contemporary dance. The conceptualization "dance art native motion system" (acronym DANAMOS) considers the existence of seven motor morphemes which are used in the kinematic analysis of all elements in the classical dance canons. The reduction of the technical structure of a dance movement to its core elements, the motor morphemes, greatly facilitates the understanding and physical learning of a complex movement - and prevents the excessive and exhausting physical work, the traditional "learning by doing". Furthermore, the motor morphemes permit a focus on the performer’s sole physical condition enacting more space to the performer’s artistic creativity and technical adaption - and most importantly to the dancers’ health. I have been practicing this didactic conceptualization for more than 30 years in ballet classes for children from the age of eight, as well as working with international ballet stars. It is very simple to understand, it only demands a change of thinking about dance technique. We tested this procedure with biomechanics and mathematicians in biomechanical lab. I will be presenting the hitherto results about the seven motor morphemes in the format of graphic and video material.



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


The dance art native motion system gives dance art and dance medicine a common platform. This interface enables discussions and mutual understanding that promotes the implementation of medical and curatorial clues without directly affecting the aesthetic and artistic execution of dance elements. This anthropological perspective on such sophisticated system as classical dance allows the introduction of scientific knowledge of medicine, neuro-cognition and neurophysiology, biomechanics/kinematics or physics and mathematics, without being in danger of directly influencing artistic and aesthetic issues. The IADMS community will benefit on the following topics:

● How to avoid excessive physical work in the ballet studio

● Consideration of physical / anatomical individual installations

● The avoidance of accident causes in Allegro - especially petit allegro (this aspect is the focus of my presentation)

● Misunderstandings within the schools of the classical dance about body axis or technique of take-off from the ground in jumps, for instance.

● The primacy of aesthetics - en dehors - or stylistic norms at the expense of the health of the dancer



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


The dance art native motion system purposely separates the artistic aspects of movement execution from the physiological and functional ones. Through kinematic analysis, teachers and students will more clearly get the opportunity to perceive and incorporate the functionality of the individual body segments. However, by taking in account the seven morphemes which will function here as a “neutral basis” of the canon of the classical dance (aka DANAMOS) teachers and students can throw in together a much more successful collaboration with the medicine and the biomechanics. The dancer will better understand the physiological and functional foundations of every artistic movement sequence. In understanding those foundations, he/she will pour it on his/her individual artistic outline. The awareness and correction of a movement will be promoted as well as the cognitive architecture of the movement. On this basis, an especial form of ideokinetic training could be used to facilitate the student’s learning process. This is of enormous importance, especially for the correction of wrong movements, in periods of convalescence and also for the prevention of accidents. I strongly believe that a worthwhile interdisciplinary collaboration amongst art, medicine, neurocognition, physics and biomechanics benefits the dance and scientific community as a whole but above all dance students and teachers in the classroom.



4 - What are your thoughts on IADMS relevance for your field of work?


IADMS brings together all the relevant scholars, dance pedagogues, doctors and dancers worldwide. It promotes a new sort of knowledge-sharing which is crucial for the dance community and its practical work, regardless of style or technique. The education for dance pedagogues is still lagging behind this development. Although dance medicine can not replace a deficiency of didactics and methodology it still can places the dancer's health in the foreground. Ultimately, it will inspire, guide and protect the teaching and working process with specific medical knowledge and empiricism. I am looking forward to learning new perspectives which will endow the innovational approach of the dance art native motion system.



5 - Personally, what is the importance of attending to IADMS?


I am confident that by attending the 2018 IADMS Conference I will gather valuable and insightful knowledge about the state of development in dance medicine and tie it in my research in dance didactics and to broaden my empirical knowledge.



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


To meet colleagues from dance medicine and dance education in order to establish interesting contacts to get beyond the conference in a hands-on exchange for future collaboration.



Martin Puttke Berlin, August 2018


Tags:  Annual Conference 

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