Staying En Pointe: Elizabeth Brem, MD

Elizabeth Brém, MD
Assistant professor of medicine at University of California Irvine Medical Center in Orange, CA

When did you start dancing?

I started dancing when I was about five years old. My parents were looking for an outlet for my energy, but I was not athletically inclined. My mom took me to observe a ballet class to make sure I was interested (which of course I was!), and I started taking classes soon after.

What attracted you to it?

I can’t tell you exactly what drew me to it back then, but I’m sure the ballet skirts and shoes had something to do with it. What I love about being in the studio today is that I get to combine fantastic exercise with self-expression. There is a unique sense of accomplishment and energy release that I feel after a dance class.

What type of dancing do you participate in?

I started studying only classical ballet. We had small, in-studio recitals, and then I participated in local, full-scale ballet productions such as The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Cinderella.

At some point around age 12 or 13, I took tap dancing for a year. I recall being frustrated by it at the time since it was so different from what I was used to, but the tap dancing experience came in handy when I started doing musicals in high school and college.

I have taken some jazz and modern dancing classes here and there, too. I’ve also performed in an afro-Brazillian piece and a Bollywood piece, which was some of the most fun I’ve had on stage.

Ballet is still my first love, and when I have the time to go to a class, it is almost always a ballet or a barre class. Most of the performing I’ve done the last few years, however, has been in more contemporary or modern pieces.

Do you have any performances you are particularly proud of? Why?

During my third year of residency and my first year of fellowship, I got back en pointe (in toe shoes, balancing on the tips of my feet) for a few pieces with a great group in the Boston area, OnStage Dance Company. We acquired a new studio space, which was exciting – except for the fact that the beautifully re-done floors were very slippery, making rehearsals difficult.

Luckily, no ankles were broken, and, when we got into the theatre, the performances went off without a hitch!

PASHions - Elizabeth BremRehearsal schedules, etcetera, so I think the time management and planning skills I learned served me well – particularly in medical school.

Now I teach ballet classes and workshops when I have the time, and, much like medicine, spending years observing and practicing dance leads to a technical knowledge base, as well as an intuition about its artistry. I really enjoy having opportunities to share that knowledge and help other people grow as performers. I imagine this is similar to why I’m drawn to academic medicine.

To see Dr. Brem in action, performing with the OnStage Dance Company, visit