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Serious injury and excessive training in young dancers

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3 hours ago, LinMM said:

Are you sure you have this correct....70 hours of training in holiday time....that's 10hours a day even if dancing every day of the week.

I have to say I'm not sure if I believe this statement .....in that incorrect ( or exaggerated) information has been passed on to parents!! 

Its absolutely ridiculous!

I think it’s most likely true. I’m thinking of a particular dancer that my daughter follows on Instagram that is at full time vocational school, associates and extra lessons on Saturdays and then conventions, photo shoots, competitions on Sundays! We laugh if we find a photograph that she isn’t in. This case is lead by Parents but it’s not unusual. In fact I know of another girl who was removed from vocational school as ‘they don’t do enough’ and ‘ it (the school) was holding her back. She know misses PE lessons at her new school to travel to London for private lessons. It isn’t healthy or normal. 

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It certainly isn’t healthy or normal, Dancermum2003. I have known several non-vocational students whose parents declared that they wouldn’t be doing PE at high school as they were allegedly already doing excessive hours at their dance school and were therefore considered by their parents to be above PE classes - and would be doing yet more dance classes instead! Thankfully each  school gently but firmly informed the parents that this would not be happening, thus saving their children from their parents. 

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The thing is more doesn't necessarily mean better!! There's only so much you can do in any field at any one time to improve your performance!! Sometimes technique can even go backwards a bit if you are over dancing especially.

I know these people are young so their bodies are generally really fit etc etc but to me 70 hours ( though I know not every week presumably) is bordering on obsessional and I'm pretty sure I would not let my own child do this....but then I'm not afraid of teachers at my age!! I realise some of these mums may not yet be 40!! ( It's just that as you get older you do tend to stand your own ground more ......though I know this is not easy for some people...it does get easier as you get older! 

I would maintain that to be healthy mentally and emotionally it's better to have a bit of variety in your Life and I don't think should be at the expense of friends and family entirely. 

Dance can successfully be a major part of it without it being the ONLY thing you do. 

Also however much a child may love to dance an eye still has to be kept on general Education. A Dance career can end at any point. 

 

When people are looking at other people's timetables ( however they do that!) are they sure that some of the time isn't "projected" as it were .....things planned but actually didn't take place in the end? I'm quite often deleting stuff from my diary in the end because I didn't do what I thought I might one month ahead!! 

 

 

 

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I understand your disbelief however I have it as first hand information, during the holidays the children are expected to arrive at 10am they then rehearse solidly for all the competition team pieces, with very little break until 4pm and then they commence with their regular evening classes until 8/9pm. This applies to the entire week. It really is that shocking and these are very young children and yet the teachers boasts about it!

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It's a difficult one isn't it.

The younger kids may love it and I suppose they are with some friends at least but sometimes you have to decide is it too much for them down the line a few years .....a child finds it harder to look into the future like this but an adult can and should!! Though like everything it's difficult for parents to say "no" you can't do that ( eg time on iPhones and computers etc) if others are doing it and so on.

I guess you just have to make a stand if you are really worried about it .....but it's not easy....sometimes parents have to be tough though.

 

I wonder are some of these teachers really young themselves....say under 25 ? 

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I think so too.

Somebody running a school has to have had some training surely in understanding that over exercising can cause problems .....a balance has to be struck. 

Though there are occasions when for particular events more rehearsals may be needed nearer the time etc but this extra work should be short term only. 

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Just by the by...some people expressed concern about excessive training and the impact on education.  It looks like the options for schooling vary considerably between countries.  Doing more ballet hours does not necessarily mean jeopardising your academics.

 

I don't live in the UK, so my experience is not that of the vocational schools where everything is delivered in one place. In other countries there are high schools (both private and state funded) where students are able to take time off to pursue their art or sport programs.  For example, the Master Ballet Academy, Arizona, students can go to the local school and leave around 1pm.  At John Cranko Schule, Germany, many students go to the local school for most of the day. 

 

In most Australian states,  there is the Elite Arts & Sport program whereby a state school principal can allow an exemption of up to 100 days away from school per year.  In these cases, the parent and school work out how the student can access the classwork and homework etc in order to keep on track.  If a child wishes to go into a full-time program (i.e.  most of the day), then there is homeschooling or well-established Distance Education/online options.  This puts the onus on the child and their family  to make it work.  It is not unusual however for homeschoolers to be studying a year above their academic grade level.  


Also, when your schooling is not done through your ballet school AND there is no equivalent of the DaDA or government funding schemes....there is more flexibility/power to take your child out of a top ballet school if you or your child is not happy there.  My child goes to a highly regarded ballet school but I don't expect it to be the best place for everyone or the best place for her necessarily in 2 years or 3 time.

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Just like to add that my daughter was fortunate enough to be at a top vocational school and is now with Birmingham Royal Ballet. She was about the only one in her class not doing extra classes in the holidays...she liked her holidays and family time too much!

I am not suggesting summer schools are a bad thing but just pointing out it is possible to have a career without extras. Incidentally, she was also fortunate to be the only one never to have an injury. I am not saying one was the result of the other. I used to 'panic' sometimes hearing about what everyone else did in the holidays but glad we went with our gut feeling and now have a lovely but more importantly, well grounded daughter.

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19 hours ago, drdance said:

Other students see this and think that they too must do all this to win, or to be successful. In a large school, only the best, most committed dancers will get chosen for competition groups, performance opportunities etc so kids and parents do feel backed into a corner. 

 

 

I'd reiterate DrDance's point here: I think we should train ourselves to take anything we see on social media with a huge pinch (a cupful :D) of salt. Social media are edited, curated & constructed glimpses of someone's life: the images & posts appear to be "authentic" but they are as edited as anything else. I know I might take a dozen photos of an event or a view, and post only one on my Instagram account. 

 

Also, re the "phenom" phenomenon - historically, there have always been prodigies who seem to race ahead of everyone else. I'm thinking of the way Charles Dickens sends this up in his novel,  Nicholas Nickleby back in the 1840s with the "Infant Phenomenon" (a concert ballet dancer) kept "Infant" size by prodigious quantities of gin! It's a comic send up of something that he recognised then as a bit ridiculous ad not the usual way of the theatre. 

 

And I think that's still the case. Most dancers - by far the majority - train slow and steady and go on to have diverse careers. I'd hope we wouldn't be flustered into thinking "Everyone's doing X" or "Oh there's no hope for my DC when they (name of any prestigious school) are taking all these young prodigies."  One 14 year old is unusual, not usual.

 

For example, where are Miko Fogerty or Dusty Button now - to name two recent "phenoms" (ones I know about at any rate)? Ms Button (I follow her on Instagram) is making an interesting & diverse freelance career but what she's doing is no threat to young dancers aspiring to a classical career; and I've lost track of where Ms Fogarty is dancing.  But she's not a soloist with the RB, ENB, or the BRB.

 

I don't mean to focus on these two dancers as individuals, but just as examples of hot-housed & pushed dancers who are enjoying careers, but are on careers tracks that are not a "threat" or in competition with dancers trained in more traditional "slow & steady" ways. 

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2 hours ago, follycat said:

I am not suggesting summer schools are a bad thing but just pointing out it is possible to have a career without extras. Incidentally, she was also fortunate to be the only one never to have an injury.

 

This bears repeating, and is the experience of the two professional ballet dancers in my immediate family. One had a very long career with no time out for  injuries.

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Miko Fogerty is no longer dancing .....at least not professionally.

The last I heard she was training to be a Doctor!! 

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It is really important to remember that all our bodies need time to rest, no matter how old or young we are. Resting enables our bodies to recover. 

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10 hours ago, Kate_N said:

 

 

I'd reiterate DrDance's point here: I think we should train ourselves to take anything we see on social media with a huge pinch (a cupful :D) of salt. Social media are edited, curated & constructed glimpses of someone's life: the images & posts appear to be "authentic" but they are as edited as anything else. I know I might take a dozen photos of an event or a view, and post only one on my Instagram account. 

 

Also, re the "phenom" phenomenon - historically, there have always been prodigies who seem to race ahead of everyone else. I'm thinking of the way Charles Dickens sends this up in his novel,  Nicholas Nickleby back in the 1840s with the "Infant Phenomenon" (a concert ballet dancer) kept "Infant" size by prodigious quantities of gin! It's a comic send up of something that he recognised then as a bit ridiculous ad not the usual way of the theatre. 

 

And I think that's still the case. Most dancers - by far the majority - train slow and steady and go on to have diverse careers. I'd hope we wouldn't be flustered into thinking "Everyone's doing X" or "Oh there's no hope for my DC when they (name of any prestigious school) are taking all these young prodigies."  One 14 year old is unusual, not usual.

 

For example, where are Miko Fogerty or Dusty Button now - to name two recent "phenoms" (ones I know about at any rate)? Ms Button (I follow her on Instagram) is making an interesting & diverse freelance career but what she's doing is no threat to young dancers aspiring to a classical career; and I've lost track of where Ms Fogarty is dancing.  But she's not a soloist with the RB, ENB, or the BRB.

 

I don't mean to focus on these two dancers as individuals, but just as examples of hot-housed & pushed dancers who are enjoying careers, but are on careers tracks that are not a "threat" or in competition with dancers trained in more traditional "slow & steady" ways. 

 

I must admit the one summer our DD had a packed schedule it badly back-fired injury wise and she was off for weeks. 

 

A lot depends on the child though surely. I remember in the past thinking a child was doing far far too much and the parent was making terrible choices jettisoning academics and turning down classes which were not classical ballet for yet more privates. However the dancer never sustained injury and has gone from strength to strength through top schools and now companies. 

 

Also, looking at the career progression of many principal dancers it always strikes me many were in companies by at least 17 and doing not a lot besides giving all to ballet from a pretty young age.

 

The schools too have double standards. Despite advocating slow and steady training for their UK students the top voc schools seem equally happy to recruit intensively trained dancers from competitions like YAGP and put them up a year to study with students at least a year older. This, even if academically a student may be quite frankly almost illiterate and/or incredibly immature on a personal level. 

 

As a parent you make the best decisions you can for your child surely and sometimes you get it wrong. 

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11 hours ago, Kate_N said:

 

 

I'd reiterate DrDance's point here: I think we should train ourselves to take anything we see on social media with a huge pinch (a cupful :D) of salt. Social media are edited, curated & constructed glimpses of someone's life: the images & posts appear to be "authentic" but they are as edited as anything else. I know I might take a dozen photos of an event or a view, and post only one on my Instagram account. 

 

What I meant with this (about other dancers seeing this) was more to do with the other children at that dance school - if their teacher heaps praise and rewards onto those who attend the most classes, or they win prizes etc then the other children at the school will think that they too must do the maximum number of classes

 

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My friend has a DD who is subject to this type of training , the teacher seems highly regarded in terms of the choreography she produces for the big comps , 

but the physical and psychological damage she causes to the children is nothing short of abuse.  The parents seem to become brain washed into thinking this is normalised behaviour in the dance world without questioning the fact the teacher in question has no teaching qualifications or even experience as a professional dancer , scary stuff ! 

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11 hours ago, Leapinglizards said:

My friend has a DD who is subject to this type of training , the teacher seems highly regarded in terms of the choreography she produces for the big comps , 

but the physical and psychological damage she causes to the children is nothing short of abuse.  The parents seem to become brain washed into thinking this is normalised behaviour in the dance world without questioning the fact the teacher in question has no teaching qualifications or even experience as a professional dancer , scary stuff ! 

My sentiments exactly! The relationship between teacher and pupils/parents has to be very clear. When boundaries are broken it becomes a very dangerous situation. Pupils are desperate to please and will comply with the most ridiculous and extreme pressures placed upon them involving excessive training verging on abuse. these kinds of teachers should be locked up they are not safe and are only in it for their own gain, when a pupil falls by the wayside whether through injury or just generally feeling lost they are dismissed and replaced.

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100% agree my dd was dancing, at all hours,as that was the only time the teacher could make it,so she said,then when my dd got injured,we have not heard a word,all them private classes, dedication, I thought my dd had a special bond with her teacher, but like you said you are dismissed and replaced,but in my heart I thought we had found a fantastic school, but I was wrong.

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9 hours ago, stardancer said:

100% agree my dd was dancing, at all hours,as that was the only time the teacher could make it,so she said,then when my dd got injured,we have not heard a word,all them private classes, dedication, I thought my dd had a special bond with her teacher, but like you said you are dismissed and replaced,but in my heart I thought we had found a fantastic school, but I was wrong.

100% agree and unfortunately my dd experienced this too. Some teachers are in it for their own interests at any cost. Yet those parents who are blind sighted are easily turned against us caring persons who value our dc mental health and well being over a subjective opinion of success.  

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How many hours do students at classical upper schools generally do? Does this include pilates style classes and 'injury prevention' and anatomy classes, are just pure dance training? I am wondering because I have a young friend, nearly 15, who has recently joined a 'full time' program at a local studio and is studying online through distance education (the norm in my small corner of the world). The full time program is around 5 hours a day, 4 days a week and includes some academics (e.g. injury prevention, anatomy, dance history) so I estimate approximately 15 hours a week pure dance training. However, this particular girl plans to continue, or even increase, the number of after school hours she's doing as well! I've just tallied them up and, if she continues with the timetable she has planned for herself, she'll be doing 13-14 hours of after school training per week, plus privates for competition solos, plus additional reformer pilates classes outside the studio, plus the full time program... Her mother and I are concerned for her safety and wellbeing but she is insistent that this is what she wants. Even when she tells her mum she's not going to be going to certain classes and will do her schoolwork in the dressing room, I know she is actually going to those classes. She has only just started full time and I'm mostly hoping that she comes to her senses after a couple weeks of this insanity, but what can we do if she doesn't? She was a bit of a late starter who still feels behind other girls her age and thinks that this is what she needs to be doing to catch up. Our main ballet teacher is away at the moment as well so she may be able to talk some sense into the fool girl when she comes back...

Edited by Viv

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Great subject to bring up, well done DanceForFun.

 

30 hours defiantly seams way to much for any dancer let alone a very young dancer. Rest is just as important for any dancer/athlete. You would not see a professional runner getting better, and winning more gold medals for training 100 hours a week, the body would crumble!!

 

Dance training must always quality, with quality teachers, and the way you teach is changed and assessed on the individuals ability, needs and limits. No Childs/young dancers health or welfare should come second to the art form. NEVER. Unfortunately this is defiantly forgotten by some dance teachers/schools who put financial and personal gratification ahead of the students needs.

 

I am not medically trained, but have been a ballet teacher for nearly 20 years and went to RBS and was an ex professional classical dancer for 3 years. Over the last 2 years I have had 4 different talented young professionals come to our courses/private classes whom I have spotted with serious career ending injuries/problems, which was not spotted by their vocational schools, or other dance teachers/schools whom they have been going to for 3-8 years. Luckily with help from medical professionals in our network, the problems where caught just in time and their dance careers saved. I am not naming any names, but the care for the students MUST come first.

 

Thanks for reading, this is just my story, and opinion.

 

Nicola Moriarty x

 

 

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4 hours ago, Viv said:

How many hours do students at classical upper schools generally do? Does this include pilates style classes and 'injury prevention' and anatomy classes, 

 

This isn’t specific to classical ballet but for professional dance courses Spotlight & Equity state that graduates should have been accessing 36 hours per week of training. This will (at least for those on the Trinity Diploma) include Integrated Professional Studies such as business, marketing, anatomy, nutrition etc) of maybe 1-2 hours per week. 

 

In terms of exactly how this this works I don’t know the timetables at other schools but at Hammond the third year dancers would typically do about 23-26 hours of dance class with the rest of the time being IPS, audition technique, careers session, Pilates, singing, choreography & acting.   They typically work from 9-6 each day with a few 8am starts. 

 

 

 

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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1 hour ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

 

This isn’t specific to classical ballet but for professional dance courses Spotlight & Equity state that graduates should have been accessing 36 hours per week of training. This will (at least for those on the Trinity Diploma) include Integrated Professional Studies such as business, marketing, anatomy, nutrition etc) of maybe 1-2 hours per week. 

 

In terms of exactly how this this works I don’t know the timetables at other schools but at Hammond the third year dancers would typically do about 23-26 hours of dance class with the rest of the time being IPS, audition technique, careers session, Pilates, singing, choreography & acting.   They typically work from 9-6 each day with a few 8am starts. 

 

 

 

I;d suggest they are probably doing more theory than that  at least on paper , given that these are level 6  qualifications  

if you look at health professional  pre-registration  education the split between   classroom and  practice placement  is  50 / 50  +/- 10 %

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21 minutes ago, Nicola H said:

I;d suggest they are probably doing more theory than that  at least on paper , given that these are level 6  qualifications  

if you look at health professional  pre-registration  education the split between   classroom and  practice placement  is  50 / 50  +/- 10 %

 

No they are not.  The diploma courses contain very little actual theory (1 hr IPS plus tutorial). 

 

I have no knowledhe of health professional courses but my husband has taught on  L6 diploma courses at various different colleges for many years now. 

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11 minutes ago, Picturesinthefirelight said:

 

No they are not.  The diploma courses contain very little actual theory (1 hr IPS plus tutorial). 

 

I have no knowledhe of health professional courses but my husband has taught on  L6 diploma courses at various different colleges for many years now. 

 that surprises  me  , becasue i;d be  interested to see how their map  stuff into  the NQF  ... 

how much  work are students expected to deliver to support  their practical  work  - e.g. notes and  notation on  pieceso f their own choreography  ...   much in the way that soem of the liberal arts  HE counrses have few lectures and limited  tutorial time  but   the  essays and assessments  required  need  plenty of time  readign and writing  around the subjects . 

 

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Level 6 Diplomas are not degrees. The practical work is degree standard & there is a small academic content but to get a full degree you have to do a 12-18 month dissertation year (Middlesex uni offer it). 

 

Its like comparing A levels & Grade 8/intermediate. Both are Level 3 on the QCF but they differ in their practical/academic content. 

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On 03/05/2018 at 07:06, follycat said:

Just like to add that my daughter was fortunate enough to be at a top vocational school and is now with Birmingham Royal Ballet. She was about the only one in her class not doing extra classes in the holidays...she liked her holidays and family time too much!

I am not suggesting summer schools are a bad thing but just pointing out it is possible to have a career without extras. Incidentally, she was also fortunate to be the only one never to have an injury. I am not saying one was the result of the other. I used to 'panic' sometimes hearing about what everyone else did in the holidays but glad we went with our gut feeling and now have a lovely but more importantly, well grounded daughter.

I’m really relieved to hear this! We simply can’t afford much outside of voc school. And although he loves it there, DS is exhausted by the end of term. I truly think he needs the break in the holidays. And it’s lovely to spend time with the young man he is becoming. 

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7 hours ago, Nicola H said:

I;d suggest they are probably doing more theory than that  at least on paper , given that these are level 6  qualifications  

if you look at health professional  pre-registration  education the split between   classroom and  practice placement  is  50 / 50  +/- 10 %

Nursing students have to have achieved 4600 hours in total to register-2300 theory and 2300 practical. Usually acquired over 3 years.

However, it does not really compare to dance training. Vocational dance courses need to educate dancers to be ready to work as dancers so the hours to achieve this may differ. The main point being excessive training could lead to burnout and injury as dancers try to achieve their goal.

 

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23 hours ago, Nicola H said:

I;d suggest they are probably doing more theory than that  at least on paper , given that these are level 6  qualifications  

if you look at health professional  pre-registration  education the split between   classroom and  practice placement  is  50 / 50  +/- 10 %

With all due respect, unlike many others on this thread you aren't the parent of a dc in full-time vocational training, so I think that perhaps Pictures knows more about her own daughter's school's timetable than you do.

Edited by taxi4ballet
edited for spelling
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On 06/05/2018 at 18:37, Picturesinthefirelight said:

Level 6 Diplomas are not degrees. The practical work is degree standard & there is a small academic content but to get a full degree you have to do a 12-18 month dissertation year (Middlesex uni offer it). 

 

Its like comparing A levels & Grade 8/intermediate. Both are Level 3 on the QCF but they differ in their practical/academic content. 

Absolutely. My eldest DD passed her A levels and Grade 6/7/8 it is interesting that they are all level 3, certainly something the local Education Dept didn’t know until I pointed out the details to their own rules!! 

 

She then went on and graduated with a Level 6 Diploma two years back, MT focus. 

All requiring completely different level of study. 

 

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