Category Archives: Dance Skills
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
Top 5 tips to improve your kicks – in all dance subjects
You need flexibility in your legs and hips to get a high kick. Regular stretching of all your leg and hip muscles will assist in improving the height of your kick, and how straight your legs are. Lunges and squats are great, toe touches, leg swings, splits training are all good ways of developing flexibility. They need to be done after a full warm up and done regularly to have any impact.
You need to have strong legs. To lift them high, to hold them straight, to develop your flexibility, to keep your weight balanced on one foot as your other legs swings about. The stronger they are the higher they can be lifted – so a higher kick.
Once correct technique is learned and once your instructor has approved – strengthening exercises such as weighted kicks and squat/lunges can help.
A curved back will ruin even the highest kick, at best you look bad, at worst you will end up injured. A good posture is essential. Focus on a strong core (so tummy and back muscles) that help keep you upright. Keep shoulders back and head up so you look and feel strong. Don’t sink into your hips, feel lifted to give your legs more ability to move in your hip joint.
Point your toes or flex properly (depending on the style) but don’t go half hearted. Practice with the right toe position, if you forget to point in all your practice, no matter how high your kick, an out of place foot will ruin all your hard work.
This is also part of being strong, but also using the music, you should never hear a THUD when your foot lands, nor should it be a massive swing about with no real attempt to control the up AND down element.
Work on all 5 elements EVERY TIME you practice your kicks and you will see a great improvement, don’t forget about important parts, don’t neglect pointing your toes for flexibility, nor posture for height.
Dancers are strong. Performers on stage are true athletes – demonstrating endurance, strength, poise, posture, grace and so much more.
It doesn’t come easy – but it does come with dance. Even for young children. Many dance technique exercises – ie ballet barre work, corner work in freestyle, tap practice – are designed to strengthen and build endurance.
Why be strong?
Being strong gives the dancer the ability to perform. It is not about big muscles or looking muscley, it is about the strength and how efficient that muscle is. It lets them control their own body better, manage moving their body weight both slowly and fast. It prevents injuries – especially to joints – such as knees and ankles which can dislocate easily.
How – is it the same for all dance?
Not really. All types of dance require a basic level of strength – usually in their core and legs. Some styles develop more specific strength – street for example is a lot of lower body work – so they have strong legs, breakdancing incorporates more upper body strength for arm holds and balances. Contemporary has a great deal of core strength, ballet, a lot in the legs and ankles.
How to be a strong dancer?
Practicing in class – the steps and techniques at the start are designed to prepare the children for their class, their muscles for the work that they have to do, and their minds for what movement patterns to make.
To develop strength their needs to be an element of overload – meaning pushing to work harder to the point of being tired. 2 kicks will not work, 8 kicks is getting their.
There MUST BE BALANCE for children – it is still meant to be fun. But the stronger they are the healthier they will be and the better dancer they will be come.
Every class sees so many children trying hard to do their best, sometimes as well as praising them for their hard work and effort, we as teachers will need to correct them and their positioning.
This is not “telling off”, it is not a bad thing!
It is a way to help your child improve, and reach their full dancing potential.
Active instruction is our main way of helping your child. Negative comments such as “don’t do” aren’t helpful as while they point out the mistake, they don’t offer a solution. We always try to include what to do, and sometimes ignore the don’t part all together.
For example instead of saying “don’t slouch” we’d suggest “reaching the top of the head up towards the ceiling”, or instead of “don’t roll your feet”, to “keep all 5 toes on the floor.”
These are to be avoided as they highlight the what but not the how. Our aim is always to offer the solution, just like in active instruction, but as they get older, making references to the body parts and positioning, as with experience a dancer will get to know a lot more about the anatomy.
Welcome criticism, tell your children that it is not a bad thing to receive a correction. Firstly, it shows the care the teacher has for the child, that they are paying attention to them and their dancing. Secondly, it will help them progress if they act on it and take on board what they say. It will allow them to improve and get better. And give them something to work on because practicing something incorrectly is the worst thing you can do as practice makes permanent!
Yes – it can be, it can also be the start of a lifelong love affair or a career in itself.
It also doesn’t need to be decided at the first class. We are just relaunching here at React Dance (October 2016) and so welcome everyone who is interested to come and try our classes. We will be expanding – we have great plans afoot. But we also will always realise that sometime – your child just wants to come along once a week to have some fun, see their friends, dance about and then head home.
Mondays at present are our Dance Clubs – no strict syllabus, no exams, no pressure – yes we will do a termly showcase, but everyone who wants to dance for a class a week is welcome. We will soon be launching our core subject classes (January 2017) with options to do exams with the IDTA, workshops to develop skills, opportunities for additional performances and solos.
But having a fun hobby that is there without too much pressure is important too!
So if you are looking for a welcoming, growing dance school – come along for a trial class, bring a friend – you are all more than welcome. Leanne@reactdance.co.uk
I’m not sure if you watched the Junk Food Kids: Whose to Blame on channel 4? But I’m pretty sure it raised some emotions even if you didn’t see it. Just take to twitter to catch up.
However, talk is cheap and while you can argue about who is at fault, it will make little difference – so how about we think of some yummy, easy to prepare alternatives to keep your dancers fit and healthy!
It is super easy to grab a quick chocolate bar after a class – I know I have done it, but its not good to do it regularly. Why not have a banana ready – there is still the sweetness there, and will have lots of goodness too. Grapes also – easy to eat and also get that sweet tooth satisfied. Raisin boxes are also very handy – just like a small pack of sweets they can be popped in a bag.
How about using frozen berries to make lollies to grab at home. They will seem like an extra special treat and are really easy to make – simply blend up some fruit – pop into a lolly maker with a stick and there you have it!
Carrots – again – easy to prepare and can be popped into a box. My nephew loves cucumber too. Veg is super good for them, and if they like it – definitely use them as snacks – they have less sugar content too than fruit does!
We all know how important breakfast is for concentration through the morning and to avoid the need for snacks and it is the same for kids. But cereals are full of sugars – even those claiming to be “good” so fill them with things like porridge – naturally sweeten with berries, or scrambled egg on toast, or even pancakes – the internet is full of ideas for healthy family breakfasts!
Packed lunches v school dinners! A nightmare choice as you don’t know the options or the quality of the food given at schools, especially if you child is one of the last to get lunch, and packed lunches need to be easily transportable as well as easy to eat!
Research some blogs – you can create yummy rice dishes in Tupperware for their lunch, or salads with couscous. Even sandwiches with the right filling can be yummy and healthy.
It also comes to switching the crisps and chocolate for healthier options (easier said than done!) but things like yoghurt are a great alternative, as is fruit. The more they try the more you will find they like.
Keep it interesting and vary it up. Batch make the healthy meals you plan so you have a collection in your freezer for busy nights. Try and eat together at least a couple of times a week so they can see you enjoying the healthy food and associate dinner with more than just eating – a great time to catch up!
Tell us your favourite family meals or share a recipe in the comments below!