When I was a dancer, I loved the summer. The warm heat helped my muscles stay loose and warm. The longer daylight hours made it feel like I wasn’t stuck in the studio all day. And the warm weather seemed to beckon me to enjoy outdoor activities that I normally would have passed up.
Now as a teacher, I still enjoy each of these. But there is one thing that the summer heat brings that I am certainly not a fan of… stinky dancers!
Sticky, sweaty, humid studios lead to sticky, sweaty, humid dancers. And maybe it’s just me, but it seems like my pre-teen students enter their hormonal shift this time of year and their days of sweet fragrant innocence are no more.
So how do we teachers handle this delicate, but oh so pungent predicament?
During my first year of teaching, I was very nervous to touch on this subject. I knew that puberty, hormones, and the maturation process was not something a dance instructor should teach and I strongly felt it was a parent’s responsibilty to discuss this with their child, not mine. I was explaining my concerns to a close friend, who was also a dancer parent at the time, and she dispelled any worries I had. She informed me that at her daughter’s elementary school, the teacher blatently said “Kids, you are growing up, your bodies are changing, and when you sweat, you stink. Please start wearing deodorant.”
At first I thought that was quite harsh, but after some consideration I realized this elementary school teacher was brilliant. She handled this situation perfectly. No one was singled out, puberty, hormones, and biology were completely avoided, and she informed the students what they needed to do to rectify the problem. She nailed it!
I decided to use this teacher’s method, just in gentler terms. And it worked! My class started using deodorant and our hours together that summer were much more pleasant.
Here is how I handle my “stinky” classes.
- At a normal class break, for me it is in between barre and center, I call the class to attention and address them as a whole. No one is singled out.
- I explain to my students that dancers work hard and sweat and that sweat gets stinky as we grow up. I tell them all dancers use deodorant, some even carry a stick in their dance bag, and that it is important that they start using it as well. I explain what deodorant looks like and where they can buy it and to put it on before they start exercising for maximum results.
And that is it! Sweet, simple, and to the point.
Using this method, we teachers can look forward to our summer session classes and approach them with a clear mind and nose.
Until next time, teach, inspire, and grow!