Author Archives: Leanne
This blog will look at why it’s important for you to see value in your child’s pre-ballet and beginning ballet classes.
You have LOTS of options for extracurricular activities these days, even for pre-school aged children and younger! While at a young age, most extracurricular activities provide a lot of the same benefits to children (social interaction, following instructions, etc.), but our preschool ballet programme is designed to offer something a little extra special
- We run our preschool sessions on a theme – The Nutcracker or Cinderella or the Enchanted Forest and so we hold short, 5-10 minute parent observations at the end of every block of sessions
- Each new theme will include a small parent information pack with our objectives – including what your child will be working on in class as well as one or two activities you can practice with your child at home. This allows you to have some fun dance time together at home and also let you see the progress your child is making.
- It may seem like there isn’t a lot of technique – but this is by design. They will learn all the basics for their age and appropriate dance level, and we gradually introduce the correct terms and develop their technique once we have the basics – we don’t want any overwhelm!
- It is more than just becoming a ballet dancer. Children a learning so much more than helps them OUTSIDE of ballet: interacting with other children, making friends, taking turns, following instructions, and working hard toward a goal, just to name a few.
- We have themed sticker charts and certificates for students at the end of each session – so you can see what they have achieved and also lets our amazing students show their progress. It gives them something to be proud of.
So why not book a place on our next course – January will see us follow the classical ballet Cinderella – 2pm Mondays at Church of the Ascension
We all want the best for our children – and exposure to things like sports and the arts help them to become more well rounded young men and women. Have you thought about ballet?
Kids are into all sorts of afterschool sports and other activities like piano and violin lessons. Dancing is a great medium for both girls and boys. And, they can start very young.
Classical ballet may have been pushed aside in favour of tap dancing, hip-hop, jazz, Latin dance and other forms. But, did you know that beginning with ballet will help with these other types of dancing, acting, modelling and some sports as well?
Ballet dancers make it look effortless as they move across the stage. From the lifts to the toe points, many wonder how they can do it. Your kids can also be a part of this through the practice of classical ballet.
Our Pre-Ballet classes can start for preschoolers from ages 2, and our Ballet programme from age 4.
Ballet is important for a variety of personal, physical and life skills including:
- learning to follow instructions
- gaining a sense of discipline through learning new positions and steps
- learn coordination, balance and how to control their bodies in motion
- getting regular exercise and being active
- become comfortable performing in groups and in front of audiences
When a child is young, learning new things is easier for them as they can adapt quicker than when they are older. So by starting children in ballet from a younger age – they are not only learning a valuable art but getting trained for the life ahead.
Though this is just the beginning. As they continue with ballet – you will see more benefits appearing – especially as they become adolescents and into their teens. These include
- develop long, lean, and strong muscles from the practice of ballet
- gaining self-confidence and pride in their bodies and in what they can accomplish
- learn how to work and practice to get what they want out of their performance
- ballet skills are transferable to other forms of dance such as jazz and tap, and even other forms of sport
- they appreciate proper nutrition to keep their bodies in shape to let them dance well
I understand there will be a lot of time commitments for your children – especially if your child has a busy academic schedule. However speaking from personal experience and a teachers experience, there are many reasons why performing arts should play a key role your child’s education In many studies, researchers are now linking involvement in the arts to better child development and higher student achievement.
HIGHER ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
Studies such as this report from the Arts Education Partnership suggest schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance are more proficient in reading, writing and math. In countries with the highest rankings in math and science, such as Japan, Hungary and the Netherlands, arts and music education form a mandatory part of the school curriculum. Children also learn to take instruction from adults and respect authority.
CONFIDENCE & SELF-PRESENTATION SKILLS
One of the most obvious benefits of performing arts is the development of skills in self-presentation. A child must learn how to present him or herself in front of an audience, be it big or small. They develop the ability to converse with adults in a mature manner. Participation in the arts allows them to grow their self-esteem and self-confidence, developing poise and learning to overcome anxieties.
Performing arts are also about social interaction and cooperation. Your child will no doubt make life-long friends with those who share the same passion as they do.
A MEDIUM FOR SELF EXPRESSION
The arts allow for deep self-expression from a child’s heart. It can help them make sense of their emotions and develop new ideas to express themselves. For example, musical children may find their “happy place” when they are playing songs to themselves that reflect their emotions. Or maybe the dancer is better able to express their emotions through physical movement rather than vocally.
Performing arts are also great exercise – even opera! A singer must be physically fit and have a good lung capacity to reach and hold notes for a period of time. Some performing arts are based on cultural history, which may allow a child to connect with their ancestry or ethnic background.
PROBLEM SOLVING & PERSEVERANCE
Performing arts help teach children both self-reliance as well as collaboration with others in order to reach a goal. They learn that there are many different pathways to develop a skill. Performing arts develop reasoning and creative thinking, as well as motivation, concentration and teamwork.
EMPATHY & COMPASSION
Performing arts help promote interpersonal skills. Some of the previously mentioned benefits can come through participation in sporting activities, but performing arts also promote and develop certain skills and characteristics such as empathy and compassion for others. The creativity involved in performing arts extends to emotional creativity and can open children to new ways of seeing the world. In group settings, there’s less of a focus on winning or losing, and more about working together as a team towards a shared performance goal, as well as the child’s individual journey of development.
For example in musical theatre, children may have to learn to work behind the scenes as well as on stage. By having to carry out a variety of tasks and roles, they are able to look at the world from different vantage points.
Whether it’s acting in a play or performing in a dance, encouraging your child in performing arts is a great way to create a well-rounded education.
Most of us started dancing simply because we loved it. But did you know ballet provides more benefits to children than just joy of movement?
Our Monday Preschool Ballet class (2pm at Church of the Ascension, Kenton) is not only full of fun but has some fantastic benefits for your children!
- Ballet classes will stretch a child’s imagination as they dance the roles of different characters in ballet class. Ballet is telling stories through movement – which is why our preschool classes are based on some classic Ballets and full of story and movement.
- Ballet keeps children moving, which is important and beneficial to the growth and development of their bodies. It helps them to stay active, release extra energy, improve muscle development, core strength and balance, flexibility and joint mobility. It also increases cardiovascular and overall health.
- It relieves stress. Yes, even young children can be stressed. Dance boosts endorphins and has a meditative quality. It’s even been called “moving meditation”! (Adults – you can come dance away the stress to with our dance fitness classes!)
- Dancing doesn’t just exercise the body; it also exercises the brain! Ballet classes use a lot of classical music, as well as some popular tracks and nursery rhymes. This mix of music challenges the brain and improves memory and interpretation
- Ballet is good for self-esteem and confidence. Aside from learning new skills and improving their ability – the small achievements we celebrate each week are a great way to encourage your child to continue to work and develop each week
- Even small children begin to learn self-discipline as they learn to follow directions and to try their best in class. From waiting their turn for demonstration, to teamwork, and positioning – all of these small parts of class encourage this strong sense of discipline.
- It’s fun! Children get to act out roles as they are dancing. Who doesn’t want to be a fairy, a prince, a Nutcracker or forest animals!
We’ve looked at ballet, tap and theatre, freestyle and jazz, today we look at Contemporary – which is a slightly different style to the previous. As we moved into freestyle which offered scope for personal expression, contemporary and lyrical is all about individuality.
Any form of dance helps develops creativity and creative thinking, but especially so this more free form of dance. Contemporary and lyrical is more free form, focusing on self expression as opposed to rigid technique and so is a great class to try. It will benefit all children – regardless of what they want to do with their dance as they get older – creativity is valued in all careers
There is a lot of talk about the impact of stress on children – dance will help develop healthier kids. Contemporary dance teaches and encourages dancers to access their emotions and express them, translating them into physical motions. Happiness, anger, loneliness, hurt – all can be expressed without words. Dance also releases endorphins as a result of exercise – helping boost happiness.
As mentioned – this is not a rigid technique class – it is about accessing emotions and using physical conditioning and training to express them. This gives a sense of empowerment to children – allowing them to have a unique voice. Its great for children or students who are shy or have concerns about participating due to a disability as its all about them – their body, their feelings, and their expression
Contemporary and lyrical is a very flexible form of dance that values individuality. It develops poise, confidence, emotional stability, creativity and physical fitness. We run our classes Wednesdays at 5:15 at the Church of the Ascension, Kenton for all over 8 years old. Please see more information about the class here and our timetable is here.
For younger dancers we have classes Mondays and Wednesdays in Ballet, and Freestyle and Jazz or for preschool – check out our programme here.
Happy Freestyle Friday – how are you jazzing up your day!! Next up on our blog is the benefits of taking part in Freestyle and Jazz classes. This is a different branch of dance to ballet, tap and theatre.
High energy classes
While other forms of dance do require a lot of work – freestyle and jazz incorporates a much great time of high energy work – the style itself – full of kicks, leaps, jumps, spins and movement around the floor, is very aerobic based.
It also requires great flexibility – especially as they progress in their work with splits both on the floor and in the air, as well as back bending being popular steps.
Dancers will greatly improve their fitness (and burn off lots of energy) at these classes.
Great for all to get involved.
This style has a few basic moves that are then accentuated with varying lines, positions, arm movements and body movements. A simple kick can be performed in so many ways. It is a great form of dance to allow your child to express themselves.
Working with other dancers
Freestyle and jazz has a few different elements – we create solos, duets, trios, team combinations, we do class work and of course performance pieces. So your child will be working alone, in small groups and big groups which is a great way to develop confidence and co-operation and team work.
Rhythm is key
Freestyle was born out of the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and the Disco era – young people and adults expressing themselves to popular music. Jazz has its routes in tap, street, cultural and free expression. Rhythm is the key – dance with the rhythm but do so with you own style
We’ve love for your dancer to be part of our dance family. React Dance Academy holds freestyle and jazz classes every Wednesday at Church of the Ascension, Kenton – please see our timetable for times (and speak to us about ages as these are suggested – we know each child is different). Then please contact us and we can send you more information.
For our pre-school ballet and dance programme (under 5 or nursery and preschool) please visit our dedicated preschool class website
Another form of dance that is at home on the stage is tap and theatre – we teach this as a combined class as there is a lot of overlap in rhythm and musicality – and both a featured greatly in musical theatre. To find out a little more – check out or blog on Tap and Theatre.
All can join in
Tap and theatre are a great class to try something different but that isn’t too complex. Of course there are certain steps and techniques but there is a bit more freedom and less strict guidelines that ballet for example.
Tap – the music and the dancer
In tap – not only do the steps form a dance – they create a beat – a noise – each movement with its own sound. It is an excellent way to develop musicality and rhythm. Tap dancing to music means finding beats and patterns – which is a great help to all other forms of dance and well as general musicality.
Designed to perform
Theatre dance is designed just for that reason – to be performed. So from the start we consider stage space, the layout, the directions, where the audience is. It is created to showcase the dance in the best way to those watching. It’s therefore fantastic for any dancer who wants to develop confidence in performing.
A brain work out too
Tap can get quite complex – the movements may all seem very similar and are confined to the legs and feet, but the variety of steps and indeed combinations is huge. Learning these, remembering these, and dancing these is a great way to help children develop thinking and memory skills.
We’ve love for your dancer to be part of our dance family. React Dance Academy holds tap and theatre classes every Monday at Church of the Ascension, Kenton at 5:15pm – please see our timetable for times (and speak to us about ages as these are suggested – we know each child is different). Then please contact us and we can send you more information. We highly recommend this class as a partner with our Youth Theatre programme which runs on a Thursday
For our pre-school ballet and dance (under 5 or nursery and preschool) please visit our dedicated preschool class website
So we’ve now covered all our classes and what’s happening this term such as our ballet blog here. To help you understand why we are so passionate about dance at React Dance Academy, the next few blogs will look at the benefits joining these classes would have for your child. There will always be over lap, but sometimes there are some specific benefits to each form of dance. Today we look at Ballet.
Ballet as a great foundation
Starting your child’s dance journey with ballet is an excellent way to ground them in good dance technique. It helps with almost all other forms of dance as there is so many parts to remember – posture, foot positions, arm positions that have been established and well recognised for years. Therefore taking ballet allows your child to focus on developing precise technique that will only help them whatever they choose to do with their dance careers – be it just for fun, dancing with the Scottish Ballet, or becoming a world famous hip hop dancer.
Ballet enhanced focus
You will notice a ballet class is quite disciplined and a lot more structured than other forms of dance. Almost all ballet classes follow the same format. The discipline required is also greater than in other more free flowing classes such as freestyle or lyrical. The precise nature of the dance form means students need to concentrate on several elements at once, while making it look effortless! Ballet dancers are excellent at this!
Controlling their body
Aside from the general dance benefits of improved co-ordination, flexibility, and so on. Ballet helps students focus on the precise control of movement – each step being deliberate and in a required position – looking at turnout at all times, posture, neckline, arm line. Students become better at controlling their body in motion and have an excellent balance.
Dance is a fantastic form of fitness – especially for children as it doesn’t seem to stop in the class room – they dance at home, at friends, in the park – make routines together. It’s fun and so isn’t work for them. Keeping children active is so important, and offering something that inspires them daily is a wonder of dance and ballet – the more they practice the stronger and more flexible they become!
As ballet has been around so long, the technique is well established – so achieving the steps, exercises and movements is a great way to develop a student’s confidence. Their self confidence increases – as does their happiness to perform – in groups and even solo. Confidence as they have developed strong skills and technique.
A bit of culture
A student in love with ballet will enjoy so many more cultural experiences – from listening to classical music in class and then falling in love with Tchaikovsky, watching the ballet on YouTube or at the theatre, learning about it’s history, reading new books and looking at art. It’s a great way to develop their cultural knowledge
Dance is a wonderful way to make friends – and ballet is no exception – the work that goes into team routines and performances, duets in class, feedback and creative expression means children and young people develop a “dance family” – those their to support them on their dance journey!
We’ve love for your dancer to be part of our dance family. React Dance Academy holds ballet classes every Monday at Church of the Ascension, Kenton – please see our timetable for times (and speak to us about ages as these are suggested – we know each child is different). Then please contact us and we can send you more information.
For our pre-school ballet (under 5 or nursery and preschool) please visit our dedicated preschool class website
Thank you all so much for a wonderful Intro week last week – we are so excited to get down to dancing now! So here is a brief overview of what is happening this term!
So we work as much as we can with school terms so we are on our half term break from ‘regular classes’ from October 23rd to 29th. But we will be confirming 3 workshops that week in the next couple of weeks.
So term has started properly and we are focusing on developing our technique. There may be lots of new words and phrases (some French) to learn, as well as practicing at home. Have patience – practice will help!
Half term workshops
- Monday 23rd October – Ballet and lyrical
- Wednesday 25th October – Modern Jazz and Street
- Thursday 26th October – Musical Mayhem – Play in an afternoon!
Christmas Showcase (times tbc)
- Run through rehearsal – all cast Saturday 9th December 11am to 1pm
- Dress rehearsal – all cast – Thursday 14th December 4pm to 6pm
- Show Day – Saturday 16th December – attendance from 1pm to 7pm. Shows at 2pm and 5pm
This first half of the term we will be working on technique – building our confidence with exercises, steps, and phrases. After half term we are in SHOWMODE!
Christmas will be here as we prepare for our “Christmas Memories” Christmas Tale – inspired by A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker, The Grinch who stole Christmas, The Elves and the Shoemaker – filled with dance and christmas magic!
As mentioned – we’d love all dancers to have our leotard – two orders will be placed before they are required wear at our show (estimated prices £15-£20) so there is time to save or offer as a birthday present. Certain classes will requires shoes – ballet and tap especially, ideally all to have their own jazz shoes too
Order forms will be available at each class and via email – any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Attendance as often as possible is required for your dancer to get the most out of being part of our group, and also so they can keep up. Please do get in touch if regular attendance may be an issue!
Welcoming more dancers
We always love to welcome new dancers into our group – feel free to share your experiences with friends, on Facebook page, check in at class – the more dancers we have the better – they bring new ideas, energy, inspiration and friendship!
There are the many clear benefits of studying dance; reduced obesity risk, it is a fun way to exercise, maintain or gain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and importantly helping to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
There is clinically significant evidence that children who participate actively in the performing arts (dance and theatre arts) spend less time sitting in front of a computer screen playing games and therefore are at less of a risk of developing health problems. Children who spend more than two hours a day on screen related pastimes are at a high risk of developing health issues, such as obesity.
Creativity is developed
Whilst dance is a good source of fun exercise for young children and a way to train physically for older children and teenagers, it is also a creative outlet. It is part of a balanced lifestyle – exercise and movement is important, and encouraged good nutrition, so is the chance to release creativity for the development of healthy children. Creativity is a key life skills they will learn.
Mental well being and confidence
Dancing can make a person (of any age) feel physically refreshed and improve their mood. This goes a long way to help prevent and also tackle serious issues including anxiety and depression. As fun as dancing in our bedrooms is, dancing with a team or group dancing is a tool to release daily stress, a distraction from everyday worries and an outlet for imagination and emotion. A chance to switch off from school and use our energy in a useful and creative way.
It’s not just adults that need to be concerned about their fitness and physical wellbeing. Dance has enormous benefits such as helping children develop a greater range of movement whilst developing the ability to work within different spaces. They learn to interpret the effect their movement has on the world around them. Dancing also improves a child’s co-ordination, especially at a time when they are rapidly developing in an ever-changing and evolving environment. Good co-ordination is vital in developing skills learned in other parts of life, such as learning to ride a bike and learning how to multitask successfully. Dance and movement patterns also develop kinaesthetic memory. It also develops strength and endurance from an early age. This creates a solid platform for the child’s physical development and level of fitness.
Young children are naturally active, however dancing makes use of more of these muscles and in turn develops the use of their bodies fully. Through the process of learning movement, children become more aware of their bodies and what they are capable of. They develop an understanding of what each muscle and limb can do; also building up the courage to experiment with movement and to push themselves to see what they can achieve with their own bodies. This personal sense of adventure is an important life trait for children to develop and a skill they can apply in all aspects of life. It contributes to the development of a child’s confidence and bravery, and encourages them to search for new challenges to conquer.
Learning to socialise with others from a young age is a vital part of a child’s cognitive development. The ability to express emotion comfortably in front of others shows mental maturity and learning to do so through movement and dance provides a safe gateway for young children to explore. Performing arts activities bring together children from a variety of backgrounds and personalities; creating an environment outside of the habitat a child is accustomed to. Children are forced to learn to adapt and communicate in new ways. By navigating this new environment through creativity, children learn to build trust and effective relationships.
Being part of a group activity, such as learning a dance routine, promotes the importance of teamwork and develops the ability to work successfully in a group environment. The process also helps a child learn patience, listening and leadership skills as they start to help each other with learning and practicing the steps. They also learn to accept vulnerability; that it is okay not to be able to do everything first time and that you should feel confident enough to ask for help, either from the teacher or from another student.
Nonverbal communication represents two thirds of all communication. It’s important for young children to understand that it is possible to portray a message both verbally and with the correct body signals and also to be able to interpret these signals from other people. The study of dance and movement can help a child develop an understanding of their own body language as well as others. Whilst it is relatively simple to express without words straightforward emotions such as ‘happy’ and ‘sad’, the study of dance can teach a child how to express physically more complex emotions and how to read and react when someone else is physically emoting.