Safe Contortion Practices


Slippy FloorContortionists, teachers and parents 1. Keep floor clean so no dust is on the surface
2. Provide resin / water cloth for contortionists soles of shoes
3. Make sure students / teachers are wearing appropriate footwear
4. Appropriate foot wear includes no shoes, grip socks, ballet slippers and socks depending on the drills
1. Hall manager 2. Class teacher 3. Class teacher
Falling from Barres or chairsChildren who hang off barres may fall and hurt themselves or working with chair work may hurt themselves1. Put up a notice advising that barres must not be played with / on
2. Tell the children that the barres are for holding onto during class only
3. Stop children immediately if you see them pulling on the barres
4. Ensure chairs are placed with wall contact
5. Test chair by applying pressure before drill
123. Class teacher & Student
Dancers colliding whilst dancingChildren who are dancing, colliding / falling into one another1. Put the children into lines when performing exercisesIf needed do exercises in smaller groups (not everyone together)
2. Talk about special awareness to the children and encourage to be aware of everyone around them all the time
3.Don’t have too many pupils in one class
4. Encourage spacial awareness when pairing tricks
1234. Class teacher and Student
ExhaustionTeachers and contortionists, may result in fainting, slips, trips or falls1. Time for a short break between drills
2. Time for food break if training for several hours
12, Class teacher & Student
Contortionists and teachers, may result in fainting or headaches1. Encourage dancers to bring a drink into class
2. Class teacher and give regular drink breaks
1,2 Teacher and student.
Pulled musclesDancers get an injury1. 2.3.Ensure dancers are warmed up properly Encourage dancers to do their own cool down and educate dancers about the importance of both warm up and cool downEnsure dancers don’t over stretch beyond their ability123 Class Teacher
Jewellery getting caughtWearer gets injured, or another dancer gets injured1. No earrings except studs to be worn in class
2. No necklaces, rings or other piercings to beworn in class
1. Class teacher

Hydration – It is important the students keep hydrated, especially in the warmer months. Encourage pupils who are in class for over 30 mins to bring a drink of WATER into class with them. Make sure you give them special drink breaks, so they are not helping themselves whenever they feel like it.

Warm up / Cool down – Include a physiologically sound warm-up and cool down to all classes. Most of the syllabus in TDSC will include a warm up to prepare the body for harder and more demanding exercises / dances. If you have a class plan where you plan to start the class with a more demanding exercise or straight to a routine then make sure you do a quick warm up first (aerobic, mobilisation, stretch). Always leave a few minutes at the end of class to do a cool down (gradually reduce heart rate, and static stretching so muscles don’t tighten up)

Individuality – Remember each student is an individual and their abilities or range of movement will be different to others in the class. Whilst you always want the pupils to strive to be the best they can be, it is important they are not pushed beyond their individual capacity.

Rest – To encourage well-nourished and healthy bodies that are fit to dance you must balance workload and rest time in classes. Doing exercises / routines in 2 groups not only gives additional dancing space, but also gives students opportunity to rest. Injuries are most likely to occur on a tired body that doesn’t have the strength to hold technique.

Stretching – Whilst a limbered body is important to a dancer it is important not to push students beyond their capabilities. Younger students should not be allowed to push each other in stretches. If with older students you allow them to work together to aid stretching it is important you put in place a very strict policy where the stretch can be stopped quickly at any point.

Positivity – It is important to foster mutually respectful relationships between dancers and teachers. Use clear communication, and instruct and give feedback in a positive manner. Praise effort and progress, and avoid comparing with others to help promote positive attitudes about oneself. Whilst as teachers we are here to correct and improve – it is important to put a positive spin on this feedback. Make effort to praise every student every class – also give constructive criticism (feedback) so each individual feels they have learnt something and improved.

Age Appropriate – Dance sessions must be tailored to the age of the student, as the body and mind changes throughout childhood and adolescence. The TDSC syllabus is all age appropriate so it is important to keep children close the grade that is suitable for their age (individuality may give some leeway here – but only by a grade or 2). Please see the physical, social, emotional and cognitive sheets provided.



2 YEAR OLDS-Are able to walk and climb
-Still in nappies (mostly) -Can use their hands skilfully
-May show concern when another child is upset -More emotionally stable – but prone to mood swings-Knows own identity -Starting to separate from career for short periods-Communicate with hand movements and limited vocabulary
-Enjoys others company
-Understands the world around them -Understands people talking to them -Understands emotions
3 YEAR OLDS-Can walk on tiptoe -Most are toilet trained -Can jump on 2 feet confidently-Enjoys role play
-Enjoys copying adults -Has fewer tantrums -More emotionally secure -Less anxious about separation
-Strong sense of gender identity
-Can talk so people can understand them
-Can co-operate with other children
-Greater social awareness -Will play in 2’s or 3’s -Will make friends
-Can tell the difference between boys and girls -Uses imagination
-Can remember things -Developing structured routines
4 YEAR OLDS-Can walk backwards -Can hop and run -Can walk on a line-Enjoys dramatic play -More independent but needs reassurance-Responds to reasoning -Can take turns -Understands co-operation & competition-Asks lots of questions-Understands things such as lying / bullying are bad -Increased attention span


  • Avoid breaks or talking too much as they can lose concentration
  • Avoid negative comments
  • Avoid long periods of high intensityexercise
  • Avoid focusing on the detail – look atthe bigger picture


  • Familiar structure of lesson – lots of repetition
  • Positive feedback – lots of encouragement
  • Incentives – stickers / charts etc.
  • Simple technique – grow tall, stretchhigh
  • Work as a group
  • Use stories alongside music to developinterest and musicality
  • Use imagination – they can gallop onan imaginary pony.
  • Set clear behaviour rules
  • Don’t spend long on each exercise –just do each exercise once in a lesson – unless it is short and one of their favourites
  • Make it fun
  • Alternate high and low intensityexercises so they can recover
  • Use Props



5 YEAR OLDS-Improved coordination -Skips, Jumps & Hops with good balance
-Can balance on 1 foot
– Fine motor skills
– Separates from caregivers without upset
– Plays & shares with other children- Can focus on a task for at least 5 mins
– Makes friends
– Can follow rules -Wants to be like other children
-Can count to 10
– Likes to imagine -Understands right from wrong
– Can start to resolve minor conflict on their own
6 YEAR OLDS-Growing quickly
– Better balance & co- ordination
– Better control of body – Can follow rules / instructions better
– Better self- control
– Improved emotional stability
– More aware of their, and others emotions
– Security and comfort from friendships
– Ability to share
– More independence from family
– Increasing awareness of right and wrong
– Longer attention span
– Remember repeated rhymes & rhythms
7 YEAR OLDS-Better balance and co- ordination
-Can move around more whilst dancing with control
– Can twist and turn – and body can go in opposite way to body
– Can handle changes and unexpected situations
– Self critical
– More insecure- Better coping skills when upset
-May enjoy playing alone – Develops empathy and a sense of fairness
– Get security from other adults
– More competitive
– Shares knowledge with others
– More likely to retain feedback and technique – Can problem solve
– Uses more complex sentences
8 YEAR OLDS-More precise and accurate motor skills
– Better balance
– Jump more fluidly- Increased strength and control
– Can combine skills easier within an exercise
– May want more privacy – May get embarrassed easily
– Can cope better with disappointment
-More aware of compassion – Follows rules strictly
– Friendships are important
-Increased ability to pay attention and remember
– Able to focus on tasks for longer
– Better ability to remember feedback and technique / exercises


  • Familiar structure of lesson – lots of repetition
  • Positive feedback – lots of encouragement
  • Incentives – stickers / charts etc.
  • Simple technique – posture, pulledup legs etc.
  • Work in partners / groups –encourage team work
  • Variety of steps to hold interest
  • Set clear behavioural rules
  • Celebrate successes
  • Allow demonstrations – ask people/groups to demonstrate
  • Don’t spend too long on eachexercise – 5 mins max


  • No fast changes of direction
  • Avoid deep knee bends repetitively
  • Avoid negative comments
  • Avoid long periods of high intensityexercise
  • Avoid breaks – where they can loseconcentration – keep the lessonmoving
  • Not too much jumping
  • Allow rest or do a easier exerciseafter high intensity exercise



9 -12 YEAR OLDS-Will improve physical skills they have already developed
-Puberty in girls starts around age 10 with a growth spurt and increase in body strength-The growth spurt can change their centre of balance
-Concerned what others think about them
-Often unsure about a change in settings -Increasing awareness of changing body
-Friendships become very important
– Use of peer influenced language
-Can apply logic to problems
-Can transfer information from one situation to use in another
-Becomes more creative


  • Use positive reinforcement to encourage confidence
  • Have a lesson plan to help the flow of the lesson
  • Set clear behavioural rules
  • You can focus on detail more and goover exercises for technique /precision
  • Give feedback, but keep it positive
  • Work in partners / groups –encourage team work
  • Allow demonstrations
  • Still use props, but things like yogablocks (not babyish)
  • Praise improvements to encouragegood work ethic
  • Allow them to contribute to classideas, or student led feedback


  • Avoid making classes too hard – they need goals they can reach
  • Avoid spending too long on static exercises – get them moving
  • Avoid negative comments
  • Avoid long periods of high intensityexercise
  • Avoid talking too much in class asthey can lose concentration




13-16 YEAR OLDS-Increase of co-ordination and reaction times
-For girls puberty is complete at around 14 -For boys puberty is 13-16 -Boys will be stronger than girls
-Body changes can affect self-esteem
-Can be more assured about changes in settings
-Want to spend more time with friends than family
-Peer pressure is a strong influence
-Developing ability to think abstractly
-Will question sources of information-Clear preference for arts or sciences
-Thinking about future profession


  • Be approachable – they should respect you, but feel they can still talk to you
  • They may be uncomfortable in leotard & tights – consider extra uniform such as t-shirt and hot pants
  • Positive feedback
  • Variety of steps to hold interest
  • Feedback – help them improve togive them a sense ofaccomplishment
  • Tell them how they have improved
  • You can now also tell them whenthings aren’t up to scratch -in asensitive manner
  • Set clear behavioural rules
  • Allow demonstrations
  • Encourage self-expression
  • Challenge them – add slightly moredifficult tasks for the older / more capable

Correct Attire / Equipment – To help prevent injury it is important that students wear the correct uniform and footwear for class. The correct attire allows the body to move freely, and allows teachers to see the body and correct poor technique appropriately.