Do Puberty And Ballet Mix Well Together?
The transition from childhood to adulthood is called puberty and it affects every aspect of a young person’s life. If that young person happens to be a ballet dancer, puberty usually occurs just as they are making the transition into making a serious commitment to the study of dance.
Puberty and ballet can be overwhelming with the sudden growth spurts, hormone changes, mood swings and changing proportions in their bodies. The body that they have trained so diligently suddenly becomes a stranger and responds differently to the demands placed on it. As a ballet dancer, it is important to understand what is going on.
As a ballet dancer, it is important to understand what is going on.
What Happens During Puberty?
Puberty normally starts subtly and then the processes start to speed up. In both girls and boys, one-centimeter growth spurts have been recorded in as little as a month. In girls puberty normally happens from eleven to fourteen years and in boys about a year later. In girls, the ovaries start releasing estrogens and progesterone, and in boys, testosterone is released from the testes.
Not everybody will grow at the same rate, and often body parts go a bit haywire. They will find that their arms and legs get suddenly longer or grow at different rates to the torso, or to each other. This, of course, will affect the center of gravity and in turn their balance in their ballet dancing. It can be very frustrating for adolescents, as it can feel as though all their hard work has disappeared out the window. It will be tempting to give up. Even perfect pirouettes and pointe work can become a struggle.
As the bones lengthen, a dancers flexibility will also be sorely tested, as muscles will be out of proportion with the bones. Leg extensions will be lower and plies more difficult, and arms will not want to be held in second for long periods of time. It is a very frustrating time for them.
In girls, the hips widen to prepare for childbirth, and this will change the angle of the femur (upper leg bone) to the knees. Their new hips will affect their retirees as well as their batterie work, and care must be taken as the knees will become more prone to injury.
Pubescent children will generally feel less confident, more alone and very emotional, even though they are not alone. Hormones coursing through their bodies do affect their mental state of mind.
All teenagers go through puberty, but ballet dancers may feel very discouraged because their abilities will feel diminished.
They need to accept that their talent has not disappeared, they are just having temporary growing difficulties, and it will pass.
Trying to maintain a healthy perspective will go a long way in helping them through this trying time in their lives, and understanding why puberty and ballet just don’t seem to gel.