Help students quit smoking.

Today's young people are more aware of the health risks of smoking than any other previous generation, yet 6.4 million of them are expected to die from smoking-related diseases, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research shows that nearly all first-time tobacco use occurs before high school graduation, which suggests that, if young people can get past this stage in their lives and remain tobacco-free, they are likely to never start smoking.

Young dance students are particularly susceptible to the appeals of smoking. Many dancers smoke in the mistaken belief that it will keep their weight down. Some believe their nicotine fix helps calm pre-performance nerves, and then there is the "cool" aspect of smoking to contend with. "Smoking has been a part of the dance world for such a long time," says Professor Karen Clippinger from California State University's Dance Department. “The desire to emulate successful dancers who smoke and be part of the ‘in group’ is a contributing factor.” How then can dance educators help to steer their students away from experimenting with smoking?

• Recognize students who smoke by looking for those with a long-term cough or a constant need to clear their throat, or those who get tired most quickly in class. Let them know that you’re on to them. Geoffrey Doig-Marx, associate professor of dance at Montclair State University stands behind smokers in warm-up and mentions that he can smell it. “I would never draw attention to them or ridicule them,” he says. “Open and honest conversation is best. If you are ever concerned about a student smoking, always pull them aside to talk to them.”

• Encourage students to think long term. The unhealthy “satisfaction” that accompanies a cigarette lasts only minutes, while the real damage being done to their body will hit them much later in life. “Smoking is more than a bad habit. It’s a chronic addiction,” says Michael C. Fiore, MD, founder of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. “For most people, it takes more than just willpower to quit.” Suggest that students try nicotine replacement therapies such as gum, lozenges or patches. Other helpful resources include counseling, hypnotherapy and meditation.

• Make it tough for smokers to get their fix during class breaks by designating a large area around your studio that has a smoke-free policy. Students will have to go further to light up between breaks. It may not stop them from smoking, but it will help decrease it. It will also reduce the opportunity for smokers to influence other students to dabble with cigarettes.

• Remember that you are a role model for your students and so, if you smoke, it’s essential that you disguise this from them. Better yet, try leading by example and quit smoking yourself. You can use your own experiences of quitting, even if you fail a few times first, to help your students succeed.

Rachel Holland is a freelance dance writer.

For the past 17 years, the Martha Hill Fund has been honoring the commitment to dance education and international performance embodied by its namesake. Previous award winners have included Carla Maxwell, former artistic director of Limón Dance Company, former Ailey II dancer Frederick Earl Mosley and Mark DeGarmo of Mark DeGarmo Dance.

This year's awards gala takes place tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. Check out who's being honored.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health

The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

Keep reading... Show less
Your Studio

Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

Keep reading... Show less
Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz

We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored