As dance teachers we are used to constantly wearing different ‘hats’, adapting for the role and all the complexities and challenges it brings – even without a pandemic!
You are no doubt used to helping your students through personal challenges, outside of their dancing, often being there with advice and a listening ear.
Many of us have been noticing a shift in our teenage students, even before the coronavirus, where personal pressures may have been mounting and their relationship to their dancing fluctuating.
There are so many reasons for this – not least of all the part that social media plays in their lives (far more than it did in any of ours – social media didn’t even EXIST for most if us back then) and the burden of constant comparison it has brought with it.
Many of us may be asking can we do to help?
We KNOW dancing can be an escape for them, and our dance families a safe haven for them to be themselves in. But still, many of our teens are struggling with low self-esteem, more so than ever.
We feel strongly that 2021 is the year to step up to the growing problem of UK mental health, and we know that as dancer teachers we are in a position to help our students in more ways than we may realise, because they look up and listen to us. And they look TO us for ways to behave and how to navigate situations in their lives.
So, where do we start?
If we don’t already it’s time to prioritise the dancer before the dancing.
To be happier, healthier, whether they go on to perform as a career, teach, choreograph, or take an entirely different path in life…we want them ideally to take the values and life skills of ‘dancer wellness’ and self-care with them.
Consider the image above and what aspects of wellness jump out at you.
- What are YOU already nurturing and encouraging in yourself?
- What are you already nurturing and encouraging in your dancers?
It’s a question we delved into during a recent seminar ‘Recharge Repair Reignite‘ and one that flagged up much emotion and passion amongst the teachers who took part.
And it gave us all an important reminder of exactly how and why we affect a student’s sense of self-worth…
As human beings, some of our most important needs are: to be seen, heard, and understood. In other words, to have our feelings recognised. And though that’s not realistic all of the time, we each have to have enough of the experience of feeling seen by another person in order to know that we are secure and to believe in our self-worth.
For some students we may be that one person who truly SEES them.
The RELATIONSHIPS we have with our students and their parents matter, so so much.
Especially through this crazy time.
And schools that prioritise relationships may be the ones that come out successful in this moment…
Doing what we can to educate our dancers on the subject of dancer wellness (and wellbeing, in general) should perhaps be the biggest part of our strategy for repair and recovery once we get back to our halls and venues, before we rush back into organising performances, competitions, and exams that they will have been missing so much.
Yes, the achievement highs are important and a big part of the make-up of many of our schools.
But perhaps the one main thing this whole year has highlighted to all of us is what happens to our students when that is taken away? How can we continue creating those ‘highs’ and moments of growth and deep satisfaction simply within our class time?
We think the answer is rooted in having a stronger emphasis on dancer wellness as part of your school’s overall ethos, and to help them consider the question of ‘who they dance for’?
They may have all sorts of answers to this. But it’s worth reinforcing and encouraging moving forwards, that they don’t dance for anyone more than they dance for themselves. And that is the most important relationship of all x
Looking for a way to kickstart a POSITIVE conversation about ‘dancer wellness’ and mental wellbeing with your older students? Or a class that will give them a positive lift during these challenging times? Try our PRE-RECORDED Dance Wellness & Relaxation class available to purchase and download today for just £10. The perfect mood boost for your older dancers, and age 12+ and the perfect place to start a wellbeing discussion.
And if you want to delve more deeply into this conversation and discover more inspiration, tips, and ideas for how to positively effect the mental and emotional wellbeing of our students during the pandemic (and beyond) catch the REPLAY of our recent online January seminar ‘Recharge Repair Reignite’ x