Updated: Aug 22, 2022
One of the biggest questions that I get asked by parents is "What type of dance is “right” for my child?"
If you know my philosophies, you know that no matter what the question, my answer will always be ballet.
Truthfully, there is never a “right” or “wrong” dance class. Sometimes, it is easy for parents or students to go for the “glamour” and not what their teacher suggests to them. Ultimately, each student must figure it out...usually there is one form of dance or the arts that “speaks” to them more than others. If a student really enjoys a certain type of dance he/she will usually do better in that form just due to their interest and drive. If there is an obvious talent in any one area, the instructor may encourage the student one way or another; however, the student must want to do it!
Ages 3 to 6
At the Academy, we firmly believe in giving the young child a base in creative dance and simple ballet movements. We respect the child’s development, and save the strict demands of disciplined dance forms (i.e. ballet, jazz, and tap) until they are both physically and mentally ready for it; around 7-8 years of age. Keeping these and many other things in mind, the Academy places students aged 3 to 6 by age. Classes are just once per week and class length is directly linked to the average child’s attention span at a given age. All of the classes in our Early Childhood Program are ballet based with creative movement and dance, with the difficulty and expectations increasing along with the child’s age.
Although there are always exceptions to every rule, most children from 3 to 6 are still learning basic locomotor movements, discovering their muscles and creativity, and exploring group dynamics. By using imagination, stories, and props we gently encourage even the most shy child to participate in our dance “adventures”.
Ages 7 and up
If a child has never danced before and does not have a specific dance form in mind, The Academy strongly urges the student to begin with ballet. Why? Ballet is the base form of tap and jazz. Ballet teaches proper dance posture, techniques, feet positions, grace co-ordination, and fluidity...all of which are needed in other dance forms as well. For a trained eye, it is easy to pick out which jazz or tap students have taken a classical ballet class before! Usually, it is an easier transition for a student to move into jazz or tap after doing ballet rather than the other way around.
From ages 7 and onward, the student is now placed in classes according to his/her ability. Each level has certain requirements that must be met before a student can move up into the next level. Think of a baby who must learn to walk before they can run. This means that all beginners, no matter what the age, start in the same class. Older students who are just beginning their dance training may opt for a few private classes in the first few weeks in order to move on to the higher levels faster (in order to be with students their own age), as older students tend to have more drive, body-awareness and generally can learn faster than younger students.
With class requirements in mind, it is important to understand that dance students do not necessarily move into the next level automatically each year like other activities or school. In actuality, one can expect the number of the level to indicate approximately how many years the student will be in that level. Every student progresses differently, and the student who takes two or three classes a week will obviously move ahead faster than the student who takes one class. The rate at which a student learns and improves is directly related to the time devoted to the activity.
Dance students in a level 3 and higher (especially ballet students) are strongly urged to take a second (dance) class to maintain muscular strength and build flexibility and endurance As a student progresses, steps become more and more difficult and demanding. More advanced steps require a certain level of strength and endurance to execute properly, safely, and easily. Muscles require a minimum of twice weekly of the same activity just to maintain strength, let alone trying to increase it. The extra class(es) are suggested with the students safety, well-being and development in mind, not with the intention of “gouging” your pocketbook. The Academy offers exceptional payment plans as well as bartering/trading for tuition. For pre-pointe or pointe students, two ballet classes in addition to their pointe class is a firm requirement; no exceptions. (please see our class pamphlets for further information.)