For an aspiring professional dancer, an unexpected injury can feel like a death sentence to a career that hasn’t even started. The recovery process following an injury can be one of the most grueling and heartbreaking experiences a performer will ever face. In times like these, dance teachers have the power to boost or weaken a dancer’s morale.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for talking to a seriously injured dancer.
Allow them to speak about how they are feeling, and show them understanding. Validate their experience, and let them know how sorry you are.
Tell them to get over it, be patient or think about how it “could be worse.”
Tell them that with a healthy recovery, they will be able to gain their strength back. Remind them that they have years ahead of them to dance, and that if they are patient and work hard, things will very likely work out.
Tell them that a day off in dance is like a week off in any other sport. That’s not necessarily true, and it will only push them to try to dance before their injury has properly healed.
Encourage them to do safe exercises that have been cleared by their doctor while they are injured—floor barre can work wonders! Assigning combinations can be helpful for a dancer who doesn’t know where to start.
Force them to sit in a chair at the front of the class for their entire recovery process. Help them feel like they have power over their circumstances by allowing them to stretch and exercise in the classroom, while also staying up to date on choreography and marking the movements they can.