For Parents
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Continuing dance classes virtually during the pandemic is important for a child's sense of community and physical and emotional health. But it's understandable for them to be increasingly frustrated by learning via screens. (It's also understandable for those lucky students who've gone back to in-person classes to be frustrated by necessary social-distancing and mask-wearing procedures in the studio.) Zoom fatigue, the lack of peer energy during classes and grief over canceled events can be disheartening, and may even lead to some dancers reaching a breaking point.

So what do you do when your child suddenly wants to quit dance? We asked licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Christina Donaldson, an advisory panel member of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance who works with adolescent dancers, for her advice.

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Courtesy Groove With Me

Look up buzzwords for 2020 and "pivot" is likely near the top of the list. It's a word that, for much of the dance industry, has meant transitioning to a new virtual world for training and performances. Yet for Abby McCreath, the executive director of Groove with Me (GWM) in East Harlem, New York, a move to online classes didn't go far enough to fill the changing needs of her studio community.

In June, after surveying the studio's families to determine their needs, McCreath and GWM staff distributed bags full of items such as Children's Tylenol, shampoo, batteries, peanut butter, mac and cheese, books—"things families can't get at a food bank, and things you inevitably need at 11 pm," she says. A lack of technology at home was also an issue; GWM supplied eight Chromebooks to students in need, and the plan is to have several more in the studio, once it reopens, for homework stations. "I want to have counselors and social workers available in the studio, along with tutoring and childcare, too, so parents can look for work. I want to serve food—that's my fantasy. But most of all," she says, "we need to be adaptable to our students' needs."

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For Parents
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As studios in many areas begin to open up with safety protocols in place, dance students are, of course, itching to get back into class. But just because dancers can go back to in-person training doesn't mean all families are ready for their children to actually do so.

As a parent, it's understandable to feel caught between a rock (your dancer's will to attend in-person class) and a hard place (your concerns surrounding COVID-19). Yet no matter how many tears are shed or how much bargaining your dancer tries, the bottom line is that when it comes to issues of health and safety, you—the parent—have the final say.

Still, there may be ways to soften the blow, as well as best practices for setting or amending expectations. We asked Danielle Zar, a child and adolescent psychotherapist who specializes in parent education, to share some tips for this tricky situation.

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For Parents
Alex Clayton (right) in Arden Court with Robert Kleinendorst. Photo by Paul B. Goode courtesy of PTAMD

Back-to-school can be a nerve-racking time for male dance students—especially as they approach middle or high school—and for their parents. Fears of bullying, isolation and low self-esteem are valid worry points, and, as parents, we want to do our best to help our kids feel supported and loved—especially in uncertain times. For a first-person account from a boy whose mom did a lot of the right stuff, we spoke with Alex Clayton, a professional modern dancer who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and is now a third-year member of Paul Taylor Dance Company:

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For Parents
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Q: My family is moving to a new area in a different state, and we won't know anyone there. How can I find a good studio for my serious dancer?

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For Parents
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Sprained ankles, sore feet, pulled muscles. Dance injuries are, unfortunately, going to happen. While some minor bumps and bruises can be resolved at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation, other more serious aches or pains may warrant a trip to a doctor. But can your primary care doc help or do you need a sports medicine physician?

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For Parents
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Q: After attending a summer program at a prestigious ballet school, my daughter has been invited to stay for the year-round program. She is interested, of course, but I'm not so sure. How can I be objective about this?
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For Parents
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Q: In this period of economic uncertainty, my family is looking at our budget from every angle. Summer enrollment at the dance studio is now—but no one is sure when we'll actually be able to head into the studio. I want to support small businesses like our dance studio, but I also can't help but wonder: Are virtual classes worth it?

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