Health & Body

The Case for Asking Sick Students to Stay Home From Dance


Growing up, I remember my teachers telling me that I was expected to be at dance when I was sick, unless I was throwing up. The expectation was that I could push through most illnesses for class, and if I couldn't, I should sit and take notes. While I didn't always love it at the time, I was able to keep up with the changes made in the routines, and prove to myself that I wasn't just being lazy and ditching class.

As a teacher, I've adopted this same practice with my students. It's difficult to manage everyone's various ailments while trying to clean numbers and refine technique in time for the next performance or competition. Lately, though, I've been wondering if that's best. Sure, my students are committed to class, but they're also bringing their germs around the other dancers and putting them at risk for becoming sick themselves. Every year it seems there is a sickness that literally hits everyone at once, and it feels like we all become zombies. We're present, but miserable and less effective. And sure, a minor cold isn't likely to do much harm, but what about the horrible flu that went around last year? Sometimes your kids might not be puking, but they're carrying an illness that can turn everything upside down.

This season, try taking preventative measures to stop infectious illnesses from spreading through your studio, ask your students to stay home when they are contagious (remind them that they are on their honor, and emphasize the importance of honesty), wipe down the barres after each class and have your students use hand sanitizer when they leave rehearsal each day.

Let us know over on our Facebook page what kinds of things you do to keep your students healthy each year, while still keeping classes full and productive.

We're all in this together, people! May the healthy odds be in our favor!

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"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."

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Robbie Sweeny, courtesy Funsch

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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.

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