Question From A Parent:
My daughter is 10 years old. She has always been a solid performer and able to do the things asked of her group in dances. She has gone through a growth spurt and all of a sudden it’s almost like she can’t control her arms. Suddenly the girl who looked like she was a natural is struggling a bit – things look a little sloppy. Not only have I noticed a difference, but she is noticing a difference. Do you have any suggestions?
This can be hard for both the parent and the dancer. The most important thing is to stay positive and assure her that every dancer goes through this. Remind her that it’s very important to stretch every day because as you’re growing your muscles and tendons will tighten up. Depending on her time, maybe see if she would be interested in doing a Pilates or Yoga class; these will help with body control and awareness as well as with strengthening the core. If this is not available in your area, maybe some extra ballet classes might be an option, as might reaching out to her teacher for suggestions. Just keep encouraging her and reassuring her that this is temporary and she is not alone. Finally, I want to say you are setting a great example in seeking out how to help your daughter! Thank you!!
This age is so tough! As a dance teacher, I have seen kids go from being super limber/flexible to being stiff and tight in a matter of months! It is crazy how much the body changes during a pre-teen’s life. The good news is- she will “grow into” this new body and these different changes. It will not be awkward and different forever. One student of mine is 5’9, short torso, legs for days, and is now 17, so she has filled out in places she NEVER had weight before. As a pre-teen, she was just skinny and flexible and leggy, but her legs didn’t define her kind of like they do now! With all of the changes she went through with her body, she definitely lost a bit of that flexibility, lost power/height in leaps, and turns became a struggle because her body wasn’t used to her center of gravity changing with the big height difference. But now- she has become an AMAZING mover. What I mean by that is she doesn’t rely on tricks or flexibility to make her the dancer she is. She relies on her fluid beautiful movement, elongating her lines, and using her emotions to really draw attention to herself. Whatever changes your daughter is going through, I’m sure they are frustrating at the moment. But I PROMISE if she sticks with dance and doesn’t let it get to her, she will develop and grow with these changes! My suggestion is to not make a big deal of the changes, and not focus on them at all. If more attention is drawn to them, she will become self conscious and embarrassed and not want to continue. Sure she will need technical reminders to keep her arms strong and keep her knees stretched and to lift in her upper body, whatever the case may be. More changes will come which will throw her off even more, especially into her teens! But as long as she stays positive, she will get through the phase successfully!
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