Health & Performance represents ATD at IADMS Annual Conference 2022

The Health & Performance Department (H&P) represented the Academy of Theatre and Dance (ATD) at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS). This annual Conference 2022 took place in Limerick, Ireland The representatives of the H&P department were Erzi Hoogveld, Lobke Mienis and Sofia Ornellas Pinto from. They report on this special four-day conference. 



The Netherlands was diversely represented by colleagues from ArtEZ, Codarts, the Dutch National Ballet and Derrick Brown (AHK and University of Bern) who led open discussions about intersectionality and equity in dance communities and organizations, in his role as Chair of the IADMS Diversity & Inclusion taskforce.



Mention worthy presentations touched on

Mental health dynamic interventions in undergrad dance programmes driven by dancers’ feedback and feedforwarding towards peer dancers, teaching staff and senior management. How translates and disseminates in curricula changes, group therapy sessions, practitioners’ education and teacher training.

Bridging the gap between vocational training and the professional industry:
- providing diverse training to develop versatile performers that can thrive in a market that looks for performers that can do it all.
-  more training (more volume) overloads the dancers’ timetable and takes away time needed to assimilate new movements/concepts and to rest/recover.
- is training diverse and integrated motor skills the answer to make dancers easily adaptable to different techniques whilst avoiding overtraining?
- creating “risk taking – space” for students to be able to improvise, make mistakes, learn how to cope, find out their bodies adaptability to different styles
- teachers should be better trained to meet this need

The evolution of the concept:
- “ability to maintain function through pain/adversity” has evolved to “ability to cope/bounce back/recover from pain/adversity”
 - what does this mean? are we promoting the development of dancers’ internal resources? Are we providing the external resources? Have the needed resources been identified?
The role of environment quality lies in the balance between support and challenge:
- performance thrives in facilitative environments where high challenge is met by high support.
- high challenge/low support leads to unrelenting environments where burnout and over training prevail
- how can we create these facilitative environments whilst keeping the challenge level.


Injury Surveillance and hours of exposure

Accounting for different budgets, different sizes, different repertoires, different access to health facilities and practitioners one challenge to injury tracking and consequent prevention stands: exposure. How many hours are dancers dancing? With which regularity? Counting timetabled hours does not represent intensity and intension, nor does it account for physically passive moments of learning and reflection.
This presentation triggered small group discussions into monitoring software: benefits, capacity, costs (financial, time, personnel), what are other institutions using successfully, how is information being collected whilst preserving privacy, what can we share with each other. It was important to see that the ATD concurs with other organizations in the challenge to account for exposure and, more importantly, in the efforts to find an applicable answer.  
Other tracking systems that were presented focused on energy intake and consumption, acute: chronic workload ratio and body composition, monitoring overtime changes.

There were several presentations on hypermobility that confirm the continuation of hypermobility evaluation in the functional screening at the ATD. Hypermobility is often associated with decreased proprioception and increased interoception and consequently with increased risk of injury. It is important that the hypermobile dancer understands the influence hypermobility can have on training, performance and daily life.


Cross training in dance

Dance science has spent a good part of the last 20 years finding the different ways in which dancers are not fit enough or not fit for purpose. Responses came in the form cross training which added to training hours, and finally to physical and mental fatigue.
Concepts of cross training and periodization are yet to be mainstream in dance with rehearsal times increasing pre performance. When you think that “No one runs a marathon the day before they participate in marathon” you see the striking and often impairing behaviours that dance culture still holds on to.
The following training concepts were debated:
- training cycles (Macro, Meso and Micro-cycles)
- the overload principle > progressive overload
- training volume through season
- specific and non-specific activity: purposes and timings
- role of rest, recovery and sleep
- VO2max requirements in dance
- strength training implications in bone health and density

Teaching and Learning methodologies - focus of attention
- focus of attention should be purposeful and guided. External focus is more successful in early vocational learners, though that is not the case in complete beginners. Professional dancers and non-students are not disrupted by internal focus of attention and may need it to trigger performance and skill development beyond the already conquered mastery. Different and individual cognitions allow for different learning methodologies so assessing the individual remains key. Instructional word choice supports or diminishes performance.

Rehabilitation Protocols
Stand out protocols concerned return to full point work and pelvic floor rehabilitation. These were thorough reports with incremental progressions, and revaluation moments, that provide options and variety to both practitioner and dancer.

Research - keywords
Research in dance and dance science can benefit from being more specific in its terminology and goals. Look outside of main journals/publications, make your keywords broader than “dance”, be specific within your theme by adding style of dance, outcome, methodology and metrics. Better search strategies will produce better research and vice-versa, so be precise with the goals of your work and share insights/outcomes with precise and purposeful terminology

Diversity, inclusion, intersectionality in dance
This open conversation brought different organizations and peers from a broad spectrum of roles into the conference room and debates gravitated between “we don’t know what we don’t know” and the individual experience that is uniquely felt by each one.

Themes touched on
- intersectionality as an umbrella term
- eco feminism
- resistance Vs societal norms
- being other abled
- access to food and shelter / survival
- autonomy in the workspace
- empowering students to enter the market
- medical care: barriers for disadvantaged dancers, beyond the financial parameter
- the equity lens in evaluation and assessment in education
- language in the class room: how can we make it safe to make mistakes
- the individual in the class
- recruitment practices:
     - cluster hire/ cluster auditioning: push to diversify hire Vs tolkenism. Don’t hire one, hire a group
     - recruiting cannot be confined to staff shortage moments
     - keep tabs on who is doing what work, keep engaged, promote opportunities
The striking and grounding take home message was: “what do you do?, when you start knowing what you didn’t know”.
Other presentations followed to inform on

- social identities, perceptions of harm within competitive dance and standards of whiteness
- equity in learning: providing opportunities for students to show-up and be assessed in different ways

Take home

The H&P members left each day with the sense that the ATD is forefront in both its search for what we don’t know and taking steps to apply/implement what we find out along the way.
There is still much unknown space to be filled and much work ahead of us but we feel supported by a community of dancers, educators and scientists who is starting to call out its blind spots and by the ATD community that is curious and makes space for research and innovation.

Come and find us at the 8th floor for chats, questions and ideas.
Erzi, Lobke, Sofia