Mara Brenner shares her experiences of her first IADMS conference

Author: Mara Brenner, Founder and Director of Gabriola Dance and Pilates

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 the 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!