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Helping Dancers With Long-Term Illness or Injuries


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Hi everyone!


After noticing that many of you appear to have DD's and DS's who are entering vocational training, I wished to share with you a recent article of mine:


'Dancer in Distress – Help Your Student Manage Chronic Illness or Long-Term Injury'

► Link: http://danceadvantage.net/2012/10/16/student-illness-injury/


Originally it was written primarily with teachers in mind, particularly those who coach advanced students, but I think it may contain some useful information for yourselves also should any of your young dancers be so unfortunate as to have to deal with long-term injury or illness.  


For it is a sad fact that illness and injury do happen, and can end careers, but more concerning for me is that if the dancer does not receive adequate support at the time it can cause them long-term emotional issues and psychological problems.  


With this article I wish to raise awareness as to what is good practice, and what ought to be avoided to protect vulnerable dancers.  For this reason, if you find the article beneficial, I ask you to please add your comments underneath the article, and to share it, 'like' it, Tweet it and Pin in - the further it goes the better!


Parents, if your DD or DS finds themselves in this situation, please encourage an open dialogue with them and stay up to date with how their situation is being handled and how they are feeling - and do not be afraid to request an appointment with the principal if you feel the school could be doing better.  Remember, the young dancer may not feel able to approach staff themselves and may need you to 'be their voice'.


Teachers, if you find yourself with a student who is dealing with a long-term illness or injury it can be extremely difficult to know what to do and how to handle the situation. I have seen teachers yelling, screaming and belittling students who have just returned from a long period of time off because they felt a 'tough love' approach would help them find an inner determination to fight their way to the top, only to cause the student to drop out of training and abandon dance entirely.  I have seen teachers unintentionally alienating students who are either observing classes for long periods or have to miss large sections of class - their attention diverted to those students they can correct.  I also am aware of times when teachers have been so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing to a vulnerable dancer that they blocked them out emotionally and discussed matters with them in a cool and frank tone; their efforts to remain professional only leaving the dancer feeling uncared for and valueless if unable to dance. Honestly, even for the best-intentioned of teachers it is a midfield.  If you are unsure how to manage such difficult situations and help students' manage long-term illness or injury, I hope my article will assist you. If you do find it beneficial, please do share it among your colleagues. 


Dancers, if you feel isolated, vulnerable, upset, lost or confused, or that you are of no value since suffering a injury or long-term illness and being unable to dance, do not bottle those feelings up and believe you must battle on silently.  Find someone to talk to. Whether that be your parents, your teacher, your school principal, or school councillor. If you feel embarrassed or scared of broaching the subject, request you see a private councillor, or call The Samaritans - they are there to help everyone. Remember, you are not alone, and communicating your thoughts and feelings is the first step in making things better. It is also very important to remember that you are of value, and if you receive a poor response from the first person you speak to that does not mean your situation is not important; likely it only means the person you spoke to did not know how to help. Try again, and talk to someone else.  Don't give up.



For more information, I highly recommend the following resources:


✧ Buckroyd, Julia (2000) 'The Student Dancer: Emotional Aspects of the Teaching and Learning of Dance'. Dance Books: London


✧ Laws, Helen (2005) 'Fit to Dance 2: Report into the second national inquiry into dancers' health and injury in the UK'. Dance UK: London



If you can think of any other important issue you would like me to write about, or topics you think would be good for upcoming articles, please do not hesitate to get in touch via PMing me here, or emailing Dance Advantage.


Best wishes everyone,


Edited by Angeline
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“Posting in your professional capacity” – oh dear, now you are making me wonder if I should have instead created an alias!


In answer to your question, Dance Advantage is an online open-source not-for-profit resource for dancers, dance teachers, parents of dancers and dance enthusiasts. My column predominantly focuses on ballet and pointe, although there is a vast array of information available across most dance genres.


If you sign up for the free newsletter then you will receive an update from the sites creator, Nichelle Strzepek, whenever a new article goes live.


As for myself, I am a freelance dance writer, teacher and lecturer based in England, hold Registered Teacher Status with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and am an Approved Teacher of the Council for Dance Education and Training (CDET). As a dancer I trained at Northern Ballet School (NBS) but then went on to complete a Certificate of Higher Education in Dance Education, validated by RAD and University of Surrey, when an injury forced me to abandon any hopes of a classical career. It is perhaps these experiences which have made me such as strong advocate for dancers’ welfare; particularly concerning students in vocational training.


Since this time I have taught and lectured at various private dance studios, schools, colleges and on community programmes; previous roles including working as head of department, outreach coordinator and curriculum manager, alongside managing arts administration etc.


If you would like to know more about my background or my professional ethos, please feel free to check my LinkedIn page: uk.linkedin.com/pub/angeline-lucas/51/912/28b


In the mean time, do feel free to offer suggestions for future articles - for I wish to use my role as columnist, and my previous experience, to make myself as useful as possible ;)


Best wishes,


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Hi Angeline

I have read your article and it struck a cord with us, as at the beginning of the year DD became very unwell. After many months she was diagnosed with Crohns. She missed a few weeks of classes at the beginning of the Jan term and then when a little better she went to class as much as possible sometimes missing classes because she needed to rest. She had several teachers at her normal at home lessons and also as part of an associate scheme and has a mixed reaction from them, from those that went away and did some research into her illness and possible needs and those that did not seem interested. She has coped very well though it all and is now back to full strength.

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Thanks Angeline - apologies if I made it sound like we wanted your CV! It's just useful to put things into context so people know whether advice is coming from someone with a professional interest/knowledge, or a'lay' person

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Janice & ellen:- I am so sorry to hear the news of your DD, I hope she has managed to come to terms with her illness and is doing well. I am happy however to hear some of her teachers were proactive, and that she is now back to her full strength. My best wishes to you both.


Tulip:- Hello, and thank you for your lovely comments and your ‘like’, although I am sure I will learn equally from you all :)


JulieW:- Not at all, you are correct that it is useful to add context and background – now I just have to worry about meeting any expectations I may have inadvertently created haha!


Drdance:- Hi Emily - lovely to see you here! Fingers crossed we get an opportunity to work together soon ;)


Just Ballet:- Thank you for my lovely smilie welcome!


Best wishes to all,


Edited by Angeline
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