Get Parents Involved in Nutrition for Dance

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be difficult for students, because it affects an entire household and parents’ bad habits may be hard to break. As a dance teacher, you are in a unique position to observe children’s body condition, perhaps even more closely than their mothers and fathers. Take the responsibility for educating not only your students, but also their parents about the importance of good nutrition for health and career longevity. Be sure to keep parents informed of children’s progress and any issues you might observe to provide a strong support system for your students. Together, you can form a team committed to improving everyone’s nutritional habits.  

Many parents may not know what  young dancers need to maintain the healthy weight, strong bones, endurance and strength to train and dance professionally. Give them the information they need to feed their young dancers properly. Rather than single out the parents of an individual child, gather families at your studio for occasional health and nutrition lectures to discuss sensible nutrition guidelines. Schedule them in the evenings or on weekends to make them more convenient for those with busy schedules. If you have the space, schedule other meetings or rehearsals back-to-back with these talks so parents can make the most of their trip to the studio.

In addition, contact the American Dietetic Association to purchase handouts on sports nutrition with recipes and ideas. You can leave them in your lobby or distribute them to parents and students. Keep healthy snacks at the studio for purchase: yogurt, fruit, low-fat cereal bars, trail mix, water, fresh fruit juices, unbuttered popcorn and pretzels, and skim and soy milk.

Also, be sure to set a good example. Next to parents, teachers are children’s most important role models. The more students hear you talk about good nutrition and see you choose healthy foods, the more they will follow and request the type of sports diet that you endorse.

Don’t let students eliminate a food group to lose weight or because popular culture deems one food “bad,” such as the current carb-cutting craze. And though the Internet can be a good source of information, be aware that questionable supplements promising weight loss or muscle building are also available online. These supplements can often be dangerous. Talk to your kids about avoiding quick fixes for weight and/or athletic ability.

Remember, as a dance teacher, you are a role model whom students listen to and revere. You have the power to positively affect not only their technique, but their whole lifestyle. Make your classroom and studio a holistic place by involving interested parents in nutrition education and asking for their help. You might also act as a liaison between doctors specializing in adolescent or pediatric health and concerned parents who need guidance. The information you impart will have far-reaching effects. DT

Marie Elena Scioscia, MS, RD, CDN-MPHC, a former dancer, currently heads nutrition services at the Manhattan Plaza Health Club and has a private practice in NYC.

Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less
Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

Christy Funsch's teaching career has taken her from New York City to the Bay Area to Portugal, with a stint in a punk band in between. But this fall—fresh off a Fulbright in Portugal at the Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, School of Dance (ESD), teaching and researching empathetic embodiment through somatic dance training—Funsch's teaching has taken her to an entirely new location: Zoom. A visiting professor at Slippery Rock University for the 2020–21 academic year, Funsch is adapting her eclectic, boundary-pushing approach to her virtual classes.

Originally from central New York State, Funsch spent 20 years performing in the Bay Area, where she also started her own company, Funsch Dance Experience. "My choreographic work from that time is in the dance-theater experiential, fantasy realm of performance," she says. "I also started blending genres and a lot of urban styles found their way into my choreography."

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.