Freestyle and Jazz

Our Freestyle and Jazz classes to run on a Wednesday mix two disciplines to allow our students to explore their expression and musicality

What is freestyle?

Freestyle is a modern, expressive and varied dance style, still a popular form of dance in the UK today. It involves runs, spins, kicks and leaps, as well as many other diverse steps and movements with lots of arm and hand actions.

The music can be fast and rhythmic or slow and sensuous, allowing dancers of all ages to use freedom of expression to enhance their style.

What is jazz?

Modern Jazz is fun. You will learn to develop many different movements reaching to a broad choice of varying rhythms and musical styles. Classes are structured to begin to prepare the physical strength and flexibility required to demonstrate emotion through interpretation of any musical genre.

One minute you may be dancing to the rhythm of a drum, the next to a funky jazz style. You may explore contrast between expansion and relaxation or learn to isolate in a slick stylish mood. Whatever the atmosphere of the class, it will be a wonderful opportunity to react and interact with other members and really dance to express your feelings.

Why take this class?

Both disciplines work well together as both can involve a lot of dramatic moves, as well as slower steps. There is a great mix of rhythms and using some of the technique of modern jazz we can develop our freestyle in much greater ways

Jazz adds a technique element – focusing on developing strong isolation and the traditional strength and flexibility work with the more explosive style found in freestyle

How is this class structured?

Freestyle and jazz involves quite a fast paced warm up as there is a lot of flexibility required in some of the moves. We work on improving stamina and then strength through some jazz technique and flexibility work – especially working our split variations and back bends.

Corner work involves steps and combinations traveling across the floor in small groups or pairs so we can see the movements and style.

Routines are developed next – both shorter step based and then group routines. For shows we start to develop group choreography, for exams we work on examination style routines.

Improv time is important in that it allows children to develop their musicality and rhythmic expression – solo work as well as team work is key here.

What to wear and what to bring?

Ideally all students will eventually have our school leotard (Which is needed for performances and assessments) and for this class it is paired with jazz pants or warm up shorts.

To start – leggings and a form fitting vest top is perfect.

Always bring a drink where possible as this class is hard work! A snack for afterwards as well is also suggested

Classes will run on Wednesdays – £25.00 per month (multi class and sibling discounts will apply) and the ages listed are suggestions. Please just drop us a line for more information – leanne@reactdance.co.uk or call or text 07969 125 975

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Ballet classes

As we prepare for our new term – we’ll be sharing a new blog each Tuesday about what each of our classes involve, what you’ll need and what we’ll be doing

What is ballet?

Ballet is a wonderful form of dance that offers so much to all dancers. It is a classical style of expressive movement has something to offer for everyone – all ages and eventual dance dreams.Whether they look to take ballet just for pleasure, or a student has the goal of a career as a dancer and is more serious-minded, everyone who takes a class can benefit. Ballet dates back to the 17th century and the conventional steps, grace and fluidity of movement are still found in Ballet today. Choreographers have been influenced by composers through the ages.Ballet has a technique which is the foundation of all dance.

Why take ballet?

Ballet has so many benefits for dancers of all ages. It is a more disciplined form of dance and classes have more structure to them than other forms of dance.

  • Discipline is developed through the focus on structure and developing good technique
  • Being prepared to take class in correct uniform/dancewear and with the appropriate appearance (no jewellery, hair back ideally in a bun, shoes, tights and leotard worn)
  • Patience is learned as the steps, exercises and moves require a great deal of practice
  • Fitness is improved in terms of strength, stamina, and flexibility – beneficial to all forms of dance

How are classes structured?

Classes start with exercises – at the barre and in the centre to develop skills, focus on technique and warm up.

Movement exercises are next looking at steps then creating combinations to practice.

We spend a little time on a focus point each class – this could be a small exercise or a combination of steps.

Choreographed routines are then taught – be they one off routines around our focus or working towards a performance or exam.

Improvisation or free expressive movement – allowing students to listen and learn how to interpret the movement within the ballet framework

All classes finish with the curtsy or bow – a little choreography is provided and the hard work celebrated

What to wear and what to bring.

We will have a school leotard that all students we’d love to wear for shows, performances and are suitable should they decide to take exams.

Ballet requires form fitting clothing to allow us to see the full body and its lines and movement.

Ideally:

  • School leotard
  • Ballet tights
  • Ballet shoes
  • Hair in a bun or at least up and off the face
  • Optional – ballet skirt and ballet cardigan

If you are just joining us – any leotard is ok, as is leggings and a form fitting vest top.

Our uniform order will be placed on September 21st – allowing you time to try our classes and ensure they are happy. Dance wear is priced based on size – Leotards will be between £12 and £20, ballet shoes from £11, ballet tights from £9.

We also recommend they bring a drink with them and perhaps a snack for after class. A notebook is also handy to note down anything they need to remember or practice.

We can’t wait to welcome you along – Ballet runs Mondays at Ascension Kenton – £25 per month (or we offer multi class and family discounts – simple email for more information leanne@reactdance.co.uk or call 07969125975)

 

Welcome to React Dance Academy

We are so excited to welcome you to our Dance Academy website! And would love for you to get in touch with us to find out more about joining us in September.

For those who have followed the journey with us – we are excited to be moving on from our dance clubs to our IDTA syllabus and separate disciplined dance tuition.React Dance Academy kenton newcastle childrens dance classes ballet, tap, theatre, jazz, freestyle, youth theatreReact Dance Academy

We will offer a wide range of classes working towards a minimum of 2 performances per year and yearly examinations with the IDTA. Both of these are optional and your child can still enjoy our classes without taking exams or being part of our show.

However, we believe in helping children gain confidence, and students become confident performers so we’d love all our students to take part.

Our 2017-18 plans

September we will love to welcome our new enrollments and for the first part of the term we will work on getting our basic technique right. After our half term workshops we will start preparation for our Christmas Showcase – 2 shows on 16th December 2017

We will spend our Spring term really working on our dance skills and (should children wish) preparing for examinations. This means we will also host a medal presentation and announce our scholarship award winners

After our Easter Dance Camps, we will be heading towards our Summer Showcase – this term is about creativity and choreography so there will be a focus on learning new combinations, improvisation, working as a solo, duet, and team to create some fun pieces for our Summer show

Summer we will host a minimum of 2 dance camps and several workshops

React Dance Academy kenton newcastle childrens dance classes ballet, tap, theatre, jazz, freestyle, youth theatre

Helping dancers be the best

Regular attendance is key, as is practicing at home to improve and develop as a dancer. As mentioned on our site we expect (after your trial) that payments are made on the 1st of each month for that months classes – we have worked out the cost over a year (September to July) and divided it so it is an easy amount to budget each month.

As shows and examinations are optional extras – fees for these will be set out at the start of each term.

We also will have a dress code for classes – each class will have its own requirements and will be provided to you on enrollment or you can see them on our website. We have a uniform order service for you to buy their leotards, shoes, etc. Appropriate wear is important for safety and to allow them to dance the best they can – without restriction.

React Dance Academy kenton newcastle childrens dance classes ballet, tap, theatre, jazz, freestyle, youth theatre

React Dancers work hard and have fun

We can’t wait to help your child be the best dancer they can be and to enjoy their sessions with us each week. We hope you encourage them to practice at home, for our younger ones to come to the lesson prepared and our older ones to support them in getting ready for class.

We are always here to talk, answer questions, support and guide you as a parent of one of our dancers. Class time is busy but you can call, email or text at any time and we will get back as soon as we can if we aren’t available there an then

A bright future

We look forward to your support as we build up our dance academy, as we welcome more children, as we see them develop. We are exciting to offer more and can’t wait for you to see how much they will have learned at Christmas

Top tips for turns

Getting your turns or spins or pirouettes right can take lots of practice – you need to work on these basic turns a lot which will DEFINITELY help you improve the more complicated turns.

Here are our top tips for terrific turns

  1. Posture – keep lifted up. Engage your core or ‘use your tummy muscles’ so you are feeling tall and upright and strong
  2. Every turn is a balance – practice the balance until you can hold it strong without wobbles – be it in 2nd, 1st, one foot or two
  3. SPOT – focus on where you are going and make your head the last part of your body to turn. DON’T look at the floor – if you do that’s where you’ll end up!
  4. Push into the floor enough to move the turn but not too much that you move more than you should – this takes practice to get the right push
  5. Strong feet means its easier to turn – work on your feet – toes, rises, ankles, alignment so that when you turn your body is fully in line and avoid any wobbles or injuries
  6. Decide to finish your turn – don’t fall out of it, decide to end the single or the double with a clean movment
  7. Visualise yourself – imagine yourself doing the turn perfectly over and over again, and keep this in mind every time you do one!

Let us know what you find hardest about practicing your turns

Understanding …. tap dance

Tap dance is a type of dance, in modern terms, that is performed wearing shoes fitted with metal taps and involves the rhythmical tapping of toes and heels, and sometimes quite complex foot work.

There are two main forms – jazz or rhythmical and Broadway. Rhythmical tap focuses on musicality and sometimes had softer shoes, and made use of the noises generates with slides and even used sand on stage to emphasise this. Broadway tap is probably the more familiar – and focuses on the dance element, as seen in musical theatre.

It’s a fusion style of dance with its history and roots going into African Tribal Dance as well as English, Scottish, and Irish Clog dancing. In the mid 20th Century dancers brought their own elements into this form of dance. Fred Astaire for example combined tap with ballroom, whereas Gene Kelly introduced elements of ballet to his tap.

Tap dance makes use of syncopation – the displacement of beats where a strong beat becomes weak in a tap, and vis-a-versa. It also usually starts on the 8th count.

Examples of tap can be seen in Happy Feet, Singin’ in the Rain, 42nd Street, Stomp, as well as more modern takes – Youtube has some fabulous performers – Christopher Rice – check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAU8eBek_NU

Tips for improvisation

Improvising or “dancing without practice or preparation” can be a scary experience for beginners, and even for those who have danced their whole lives.

It is about creating and doing movements without choreography – just spontaneously.

It is used for fun (just like dancing at a party – you don’t choreograph that!), skill development, creativity and also for developing choreography

It is a movement skill as well as a form of dance.

Here are our top tips to help you improve your improvisation:

  1. Relax!
  2. Be in the moment – with the music – explore, react, and don’t overthink
  3. Listen and be aware of what else is going on, but also just move as you feel
  4. Be yourself – embrace your skills and style – don’t be too hard on yourself
  5. It’s okay to “copy” – be inspired by others and put your own twist on it – make it YOU
  6. Don’t compare yourself – everyone has different styles, interpretations, skills, favourite moves – so embrace yours and celebrate others but don’t compare
  7. Be free – don’t be shy!

Improving your kicks

Top 5 tips to improve your kicks – in all dance subjects

Flexibility

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.

Strength

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.

Posture

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.

Toes

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.

Control

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.

Strength training for ALL dancers

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.

Understanding …. Theatre Craft

Theatre craft is one of the main disciplines in a performing arts company – along side ballet and tap. It generally falls in with acting and singing in Musical Theatre studies. It can be one of the most fun to study, as while there is plenty of technique, it has less so than Ballet or Tap. And comes down a lot to performance.

What is it?

It is a fun, varied, performance based dance style. It has a variety of styles under the umbrella term “Theatre Craft” including cabaret, musicals, pantomimes, and commercial. It is led by the music.

Essential Elements

There are a huge range of steps and ideas that can go into a theatre craft dance piece, but certain aspects are key, and tend to be found in most piece. These include kick variations, turn variations, use of strong arm positions, as well as rhythmical awareness and use of props and accessories.

Artistic ability here is the ability to interpret the music and tell a story on stage. It is more about the performance than necessarily the steps.

Day to day Theatre

Where can you see it or find it? Its the Broadway or the West End, down to school productions. Theatre craft is what is shown across the world, mixing acting, dance and song to tell stories.

You will be familiar with the Lion King, Singin’ in the Rain, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story – all popular musicals. From makers and legends such as Gilbert and Sullivan, Rodgers and Hammerstein, to Andrew Lloyd Webber – stories have been told through dance for decades.

It could be a story based musical – like West Side Story (based on Romeo and Juliet), or a TV or Film – such as Moulin Rouge, Glee even, or maybe what is termed as a Juke Box Musical – where they songs of an artist are used as inspiration – The Buddy Holly Story, We Will Rock You, the Jersey Boys.

 

Tell us – what is your favourite musical?

Fun, games, and dance

Dance classes should be purely dance technique and practice?

Yes and No

It depends on the class – is it a technique based class or exam prep? Is it in the run up to a big event or showcase? Is it the first week back after summer? Do we have a lot of new students? Do we need ideas.

Dance class should always be fun, challenging, but always fun. And most of the time this will come through from the dance itself – the enjoyment of practicing your favourite steps or new routines, or perfecting old ones.

Sometimes though, there is room for change….

Games in class

Introducing games into class may seem a little strange – but we aren’t talking about a round of football or snakes and ladders.

Games can be extremely beneficial to a class in many different ways – so long as they are used appropriately.

Warm ups

Fun ways to warm up for a Freestyle class or a cardio based class – may be a twist on the game or tag or even traveling relays (instead of running try skipping, jetes, leaps, turns). It ensures that the part at the start that gets them ready to move is effective. Boring will result in a lack of effort and then not being warm enough for mobility exercises.

Characters

Getting into character when performing can be hard – so introducing something like charades is a good way to bring shy children out of their shell and get them to use their body and facial expressions to show emotion or ideas.

Acting out things, places, films, also gets them to think about using their body in different ways.

Social

It brings the team together – so many times dance is a solo routine (for exams for example) or you part in a specific piece, where you dance with a set team, time again. Team games brings everyone together in a different activity where dance ability is not key. It allows more experienced dancers to help new members, you become friends with your new team, and encourage and help those who you perhaps don’t normally work with.

Creativity

It frees the mind – playing traveling games or aversion games, charades, makes you thing about movement in new ways to normal in class. Dodging a “tag” may give you ideas on sharp turns, quick movement or use of space. Not talking means you have to use different ways to express ideas and new arm movements or postures may come to mind.

It lets your mind free itself from the constraints of “dance steps” and lets you think outside the box

FUN

It is fun, which is the aim especially for our little ones. They need the time to explore ideas, their bodies, their abilities, to make friends and interact.

Yes there is an element of competiton – but healthy competition, where they strive to be THEIR BEST, not necessarily THE BEST.