After all of the rehearsals and spring shows are over, we parents often feel a huge sense of relief, as do our busy artists who live and breathe dance. “You mean we can actually plan a family outing on a Saturday?! Our kids can actually attend a birthday party?!” It would be easy for us to tell our dancers they should take a break to “be kids” over the summer, but is that really what’s best for your child? Every kid is different, but there are a lot of benefits to summer dance training that parents (and our children) probably don’t realize.
1. Muscle Memory
Dancers utilize and strengthen very different muscles than what the body uses for other activities, even active ones like swimming, hiking, and biking. Prior to having my daughter ten years ago I was a personal trainer, and I’ve experienced some pretty intense muscular pain in nearly twenty years of lifting weights. However, I’ve also taken ballet classes as an adult and will admit that I felt pain in muscles I didn’t even know were possible to exercise! Our family loves to travel, and just about every year we take a two-week long vacation. A couple of years ago one of my daughter’s teachers mentioned it’s noticeable when we’ve taken one of those longer vacations, because my daughter comes back much weaker than before we left. Does that mean we can’t travel? Definitely not! This just means that we plan our trips at more ideal times (after all rehearsals/shows are complete, and not during summer intensives). We also make sure our daughter still stretches and does ballet exercises [when she’s able] while on vacation.
2. Spurts in Growth and Skill
Children go through growth and skill spurts at different times throughout the year, and one of those times could be in the summer. You definitely don’t want your child to miss out on the opportunity to use new talents after something suddenly clicks for her. And if she goes through a sudden and noticeable growth spurt, it will take time to regain her balance and build new muscle memory. If she doesn’t train while experiencing that growth, she may get frustrated trying to re-train a body she’s not used to dancing in.
3. Diversity in Training
Although some of your child’s instructors may still teach over the summer, guest instructors are often brought into studios. As a parent, I’ve discovered this not only challenges our dancers and their ability to adapt to different teaching styles and personalities, it also keeps their training fresh. This doesn’t mean every instructor will challenge your dancer the way she’s used to. In fact, she may even complain about a class that’s “too easy.” Does that mean the class is really too easy? Not necessarily; it just means the instructor teaches differently than what she’s grown accustom, and it then becomes the dancer’s responsibility to challenge herself to refine every move and posture. Alternatively, your dancer may feel frustrated over how difficult a class feels. Again, she will need to adapt and rise to the