Guidance for Parents of Boys in Dance: Ensuring Safety and Quality Training
When your son expresses an interest in dance, it’s an exciting journey that can lead to a world of creativity and self-expression. However, as a parent, it’s natural to be concerned about his safety and the quality of his training. Here are are some thoughts to help you navigate the world of dance and ensure your son’s well-being.
Choosing the Right Dance Studio
When selecting a dance studio for your son, consider a few key factors:
Look for experienced instructors who are not only skilled dancers themselves but also have a background in teaching dance to boys. They should understand the unique needs and challenges that young male dancers face. Many instructors and studios can say they have experience with training boys, but how many understand the developmental differences and how to work with boys during critical growth stages? This is extremely important as damage to their young bodies can be permanent.
Inquire about the studio’s approach to safety. Make sure they have proper warm-up and cool-down routines, injury prevention measures, and access to medical professionals in case of emergencies.
Each dancer is different, and your son’s training should reflect that. A reputable studio will tailor their approach to your son’s age, physical development, and skill level. Just because your son is 14 doesn’t mean he is ready both physically and technically for lifting and partnering.
Nutrition and Hydration
A good studio will offer guidance on nutrition and hydration, which can be vital for your son’s energy levels and injury prevention.
Establish a line of communication with the studio and instructors. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or express concerns about your son’s training. A responsible studio will be willing to address your worries. Be sure that the studio you entrust with your child’s training is listening and open to discussing their training with you. Be wary of studios who insist on only discussing with the child.
Monitoring Your Son’s Training
As your son starts his dance journey, you’ll want to keep an eye on a few important aspects:
Pay attention to the emphasis on proper technique in his training. It’s crucial for preventing injuries, especially during movements like lifts and partner work. In regular classes, are they getting the feedback and attention to be sure they are also building strong technique?
While strength training can be beneficial, ensure that it aligns with age-appropriate guidelines. It should complement his dance training without pushing him too hard. Scientific research has shown that boys should not be physically lifting another body until the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments are more stable. This means that when working on partnering, the focus should be on weight distribution and working with their partner on the floor. Single and double leg balances, pirouettes, and promenades are all examples of where partnering needs to be focussed. Young boys should only be weight training using resistance and light weights. A reputable school will spend a minimum of one year training partnering without ever having them perform actual lifts. Bones and joints are not prepared for the impact of higher weight training until at least the age of 14 (assuming that they have the core strength, and understand correct posture and alignment).
Younger dancers may not be physically ready for complex lifts and presses. Make sure instructors assess your son’s readiness and progression carefully. Because most boys grow later, and can have rather large growth spurts, their joints, muscles and ligaments are often weakened. Careful understanding of their bodies is extremely important.
Teach your son to listen to his body. Encourage him to communicate any discomfort, pain, or concerns to both you and his instructors. Promptly address any injuries or potential issues with medical professionals.
Help your son strike a balance between rigorous practice and rest. Overuse injuries can occur if he’s pushed too hard without enough recovery time.
If your son participates in performances with lifts and partner work, ask about the safety measures in place during rehearsals and on stage. Ensure that there are trained spotters and that safety is a top priority.
Support and Communication
Create a supportive environment at home where your son feels comfortable discussing his dance experiences and concerns. Your emotional support is just as important as his physical safety.
Your son’s journey in dance can be a rewarding one with the right guidance and care. By choosing a reputable studio, staying involved in his training, and maintaining open communication, you can help him thrive in this beautiful art form while minimizing potential risks. Dance should be a fulfilling experience for him, and as a parent, your role is to ensure he enjoys it safely and wholeheartedly. You need to take an active role in your child’s dance experience. The body is forever. If not treated properly, the damage can be irreparable. Always feel that you can talk to the instructors and directors about the safety of your child.
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