With all the issues and challenges we ballet teachers face, it might seem rather tedious to devote an entire article to water bottles. However, teaching our students to be—and remain—hydrated throughout class is part of our job. Because, like all things, unless we teach them, they will not know.
We all have those students who, every time we turn around, are gulping down heaps of water. On the other side of the spectrum, we all have those students who barely take a sip of water throughout an entire three hour rehearsal period. And then, if you are a teacher of little students, you might have the constant “Can I get a drink of water?”
*Side note: The students who bring sports drinks (or soda!) into class . . . Let’s take a moment to cringe in unison over this sugary health hazard and commit to not allowing this to EVER take place on our watch.
First. . .
Of course we know being proactive is the best way to remain hydrated. But our students don’t know this. Even if they do know this, they likely don’t live this. Encourage them to drink plenty of water throughout the day before even arriving to class, and encourage them to make water their main source of hydration every single day. Let them know increasing their overall water intake . . .
sets them up for success,
reduces their risk of injury,
staves off illness,
and helps their focus.
What To Do In Class
Here is how I handle the water bottle escapades for each level.
Note: Rules, in my opinion, can always be broken based on the teacher’s discretion of any particular situation, and students should feel comfortable in asking for exceptions if their needs require this.
Little Dancers (3-7 year olds)
- RULE #1—No water bottles allowed in class.
- If the studio does not have a water fountain, I will allow them to bring water bottles to class, but they are only allowed to take a water break according to RULE #3.
- RULE #2—If class is under an hour, there are no water breaks.
- RULE #3—If class is over an hour (combo classes usually) I will take everyone to the water fountain together when we change shoes.
- Sometimes I won’t do this. It really depends on how active we have been in class that day.
Medium Dancers & Beginning Dancers (7-9 year olds)
- RULE #1—Water bottles are allowed in class and should be kept on the side (not at the barre).
- RULE #2—Drinks may be taken after barre.
- RULE #3—By the teacher’s cue, drinks may be taken after especially rigorous activity.
- RULE #4—If a student feels they need water at other times, they are to ask first. I enforce this rule because I have seen dancers take drinks when they don’t need it and then two minutes later they are feeling sick. Instating this rule helps students be smart about their water intake, and it gives the teacher an opportunity to teach about proper hydration.
- RULE #1—See Medium Dancers RULE #1
- RULE #2—Drinks may be taken any time after barre work. If the foundations for drinking water have been established from the earlier years, this should cause no problems. However, if students abuse the privilege or demonstrate poor judgement, this privilege will be put on pause until the lesson has been learned.
- RULE #1—Water bottles are allowed to be kept at barre.
- RULE #2—Drinks may be taken at the students’ discretion.
There are so many hurdles to overcome as a dancer; being dehydrated or feeling sick due to massive water intake should not be one of those hurdles. We can do our students a real service by teaching them how to listen to their bodies and take care of themselves. Then we can put all our energy where it belongs—into teaching ballet well.
Gaye Hemsley says
I really enjoy reading your articles. I have been teaching for sixty years and so many suggestions you make I really relate to having solved my teaching problems in the same ways. Re the water bottle theme. Some years ago I was holding a school holiday workshop for my dance pupils in preparation for a concert coming up in the new term. I asked the parent to drop the children off at 10am and supply lunch for them. One child was bought to the entrance by her mother when the child realized she didn't have her water bottle. I told not to worry as the kitchen was just off the studio and she could get tap water there. Guess what happened? the mother drove home and collected the child's water bottle.
No such things as water bottles when I was that child's age. Tap water had to do. I am writing a memoir 'Journey of a Dance Teacher' the above little story will go in the book.