All children will go through adolescence at different ages, but this stage normally occurs in girls aged between 11-14years and boys aged 12-15years. It can be a very stressful and uncertain time for the students, their parents and their teachers due to the changes that are happening. All involved should be informed on how to make the process as effortless as possible.
The signs of adolescence
• Rapid change in height
• Loss of height in leg extensions
• Increased fatigue
• Changes in mood and motivation
• Weakness in slow adagio movements
• Loss of balance
• Weight backwards
• Loss of flexibility
• Loss of stamina
• Loss of general control and ability
• Decrease in self esteem
• Feelings of inadequacy
• Increase in injury rate
Teachers and parents must also be aware of students increased awareness of body image and their sensitivity to the changes that are happening, therefore being supportive and understanding.
To continue dancing through adolescence and avoiding injury, classes may need to be modified.
Adaptations to Classes
• Make classes less physically stressful
• Protect the knees and hips
• Girls- Avoid difficult pointe work (One leg/Centre)
• Reduce amount of high impact work
• More body conditioning and muscle building- Try Gaynor Mindens ‘Dancers Dozen’ to build strength.
• Increase time spent on postural corrections
• Decrease kneeling sequences
• Boys- Decrease power lifting
• Increase acquiring proprioception (balance on one leg)
• Floor barre to feel correct posture alignment
• Encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning
• Bring to class “physio toys” to help them. Try Gaynor Mindens ‘Dancers Dozen’ to build strength.
• Work on balance and flexibility exercises that are specific for the individual
• Discuss the changes with the students and ensure they full understand what is happening,
why changes must be made and how they can protect themselves and improve.
It can be a stressful time for students as they appear to stop progressing with their dancing and may feel that they are ‘losing their ability’; this is why many students that have danced since they were small children decide to ‘give up’ their dancing when they hit their teen years. A lot is going on in students’ lives physically, emotionally and with the transition to senior school, it is simply a time that all dancers and teachers have to learn to adapt their classes to ensure they can continue to progress safely and happily.
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