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Dance Medicine Conference to Focus on Dancer Performance, Safety, Health and Longevity

Cedars-Sinai/USC Glorya Kaufman Dance Medicine Center's 5th Annual Conference Brings Together Dancers, Surgeons, Physical Therapists, Dance Educators and Others for Daylong Conversations

Dancer Kerry Wee was rehearsing an aerial routine for a concert tour a few years ago in Nashville, Tennessee, when she fell to the ground and broke several bones in her ankle. During emergency surgery, doctors inserted 17 pins and screws in Wee's lower leg, leaving her career in doubt.

But Wee, 37, was determined to dance again. Back home in Los Angeles, she underwent two more surgeries and extensive physical therapy at the Cedars-Sinai Orthopaedic Center, eventually having all of the hardware removed from her leg. Wee has returned to the dance floor professionally, and she now has a message for other dancers who might benefit from her experience.

"Learn your limits and know when you're in danger of hurting yourself," she said. "If you want a long career, you must listen to your body."

Those messages will be highlighted during the Cedars-Sinai/USC Glorya Kaufman Dance Medicine Center's fifth annual Dance Medicine Conference on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.

Titled "Optimizing Dance Performance," the daylong event will focus on enhancing dance performance in the studio and on the stage while keeping dancers safe and healthy. The conference, which will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is open to dancers, choreographers, students, teachers and others involved in dance.

"We want to focus discussions on preparing dancers for their best possible performances in ways that protect their health," said Margo Apostolos, PhD, the center's co-director and an associate professor of dance at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

The conference will feature conversations with well-known figures in modern dance, including choreographer Joe Tremaine; Jodie Gates, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer and now vice dean and director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance; dancers Derrick Schrader and Saleemah E. Knight; and Apostolos, who will discuss health and conditioning for dancers.

It also will feature breakout sessions with Cedars-Sinai orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists.

Glenn B. Pfeffer, MD, director of the Foot and Ankle Program at the Cedars-Sinai Orthopaedic Center and co-director of the Cedars-Sinai/USC Glorya Kaufman Dance Medicine Center, will speak about foot and ankle issues.

Robert Bernstein, MD, will address back and spine issues. William Hohl, MD, will talk about hip and knee topics. Rodney Gabriel, MD, will discuss optimizing nutrition for performance. Thomas Kremen, MD, will speak about how to recognize overuse and fatigue. And Carol Lin, MD, will discuss the difference between "urgent" injuries and trauma emergencies.

"We look forward to a day full of practical and useful advice that can keep dancers on their feet and free of injuries," Pfeffer said. "Dancers can enjoy long and productive careers if they take care of themselves."