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What is Dance Medicine/Dance Science and Why is it Important to Dancers?


By Merry Lynn Morris, MFA, LMT

Dance Educator/Practitioner 

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The area of Dance Medicine/Dance Science began to gather momentum in the early 1990s in terms of serious consideration and research in dance injury, training methods, and general dance wellness – comprising both physical and mental/psychological aspects. The Performing Arts Medicine Association (, an association dedicated to the wellness of dancers and musicians primarily formed in 1989 and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science formed in 1990 ( Both of these entities have excellent resources on their websites for dancers and I would encourage dance students and dance practitioners to try to attend a conference. Performing arts medicine and/or dance medicine/science generally focuses on improving the training and care practices of artists. Topics of discussion and research in dance medicine/science may include: motor learning/motor control issues, balance and proprioception issues, the safety of dance flooring and shoewear, somatic practices, biomechanical examination of specific movements and their effects such as grand plié or pirouette, body image concerns, nutritional concerns, performance anxiety, dance preparation and injury recovery. These organizations are comprised of dance teachers, dancers, and medical and health practitioners from around the world all invested in helping artists pursue their work in the healthiest of ways to increase longevity in the field. 

Because of the significant research having occurred in the field, dance practitioners have access to improved knowledge of training for dancing bodies. It is important that dancers connect with the knowledge sources which are out there in order to become responsible in their own dance preparation and care methods. 

WHY is dance medicine/science important for you?

Who wants to stop dancing, EVER? 

If you don’t take responsibility for your own bodily health, though – your teachers and peers can’t do it for you, and you need to be discerning about the limits and capacities of your (unique) body when you work with choreographers and teachers from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

If you are a dancer, the dancing spirit never leaves you, and in my opinion, there is no reason one cannot dance for a VERY long time. I speak from experience, as a dancer who also experienced some faulty and overly strict training in ballet. I live the consequences of extreme hypermobility now and various other chronic conditions.

Can’t travel far? No problem, there are educational and networking opportunities right here! 

In Tampa, for instance, at the University of South Florida, we recently hosted a Performing Arts Medicine Conference, endorsed by the Performing Arts Medicine Association. Guest keynote presenters included Dr. Tom Welsh, former President of IADMS and Professor at FSU, Dr. John Chong, Past President of PAMA, and Dr. Nancy Kadel, current PAMA President as well as an orthopedic surgeon who works with dancers. Speakers presented on sacroiliac joint dysfunction, turn-out (outward rotation) issues for dancers, hallux valgus, and more. The conference is anticipated to occur again in Spring 2015 at the University of South Florida’s School of Music.

Below are several of the resource “fact sheets” drawn directly from the IADMS website:

Nutrition Fact Sheet: Fueling the Dancer

Dance Fitness


For health practitioners in the area who have worked with dancers in the Tampa area:

Sherrice Rose, PT, DPT 

USF Physical Therapy Services 



Volunteers Invited

Research Study: Knee Biomechanics in Female Dancers

Purpose: To investigate the influence of knee hypermobility and lumbopelvic stability on knee mechanics during standing and walking in female dancers and non-dancers


  • Female dancers and non-dancers (18-39 years of age)
  • No history of cardiovascular, functional limitations, or surgery in lower extremities

Time commitment: single 2-hour visit 

Compensation will be provided. 

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Teran-Yengle, PT, PhD 

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(813) 974-4677

IRB ID#: Pro00016901