It’s the start of a new school year, many different activities are on offer (but so too comes the colder, darker evenings!). So sometimes at this point, enrolling them in performing arts may seem to come down the bottom of the priority list.
But there are many reasons why performing arts should play a key role your child’s education, be it in school or as an extra curricular activity. 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 dance, music and drama are more proficient in reading, writing, and maths. In countries with the highest rankings in maths 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. For example, a child learning a musical instrument may also participate in an orchestra to open them up to another style of music and performance to benefit their solo work.
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.
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
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!
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!
Our little series on explaining the basics of the main forms of dance that we teach at React Dance – today is Ballet.
Interesting Facts about Ballet
- Ballet began about 500 years ago in Italy as a form of entertainment in the courts.
- The first full-scale ballet was staged in Paris on 15th October, 1581.
- When ballet first started the dancers wore masks and heavy costumes that were difficult to move in.
- Women weren’t allowed to dance in public until 1681.
- The word Ballet comes from the word “dance” in Latin.
- There are four levels of dancers in a ballet company. At the bottom is the largest group, called the ‘corps de ballet’. Next are the ‘corphees’ who lead the corps de ballet and sometimes dance the smaller parts. Then there are the ‘soloists’ who dance alone. And at the top are the ‘principals’ who dance the lead roles.
- COOL FACT: A male dancer lifts over 1-1/2 tons worth of ballerinas during a performance. That’s like lifting 1,350 big bags of sugar!
- Pointe shoes are handmade. Their toe boxes are painted or “blocked” with glue, then baked in ovens to stiffen and strengthen them. Some professional dancers can go through 20 pairs of ballet shoes a week; in fact, some can wear out a pair of pointe shoes in one hour. On average, England’s Royal Ballet troupe goes through 15,000 pairs of pointe shoes a year!
- Before a ballet class you rub ‘rosin’ on your shoes to stop them from slipping. This is a yellow powdered crystal that comes from pine trees and is the same substance that cellists, bassists and violinists rub on their bows to improve their instruments’ sound.
- A prima ballerina can complete 32 fouette turns (a complicated turn where they whip their leg around), while staying in exactly the same spot on the floor. After the turns, her pointe shoe tip is hot to touch and it is so worn out that it is only then used in rehearsals.
- IMPORTANT: You DO NOT have to be tall and slim with super long legs to be a ballerina.
Ballet links you may like
The English National Ballet is one of the world’s great ballet companies.
The Ballet Association gives active support to the Royal Ballet companies and promotes interest in all aspects of their work.
The British Ballet Organisation has devised a safe and developmental program of dance study.
The British Theatre Dance Association for teachers and examiners.
Why should you child study ballet?
- Gross motor skills
- Physical fitness
- Learn to follow instruction
- A sense of discipline through learning new positions and steps.
Ballet is a great way for a child to keep fit, strengthen core muscles and a lovely way for him/her to explore their imagination through the magic of dance. They gain a sense of self-confidence and pride in their bodies and what they can accomplish through practice.
The skills learnt in ballet are useful for other forms of dancing like tap or jazz if they want to try something different at a later stage.
Famous Ballet Dancers
Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) was one of the most celebrated and influential ballet dancers of her time. Her performances in La Fille Mal Gardée and The Dying Swan were critically acclaimed and inspired many future generations of dancers.
Mikhail Baryshnikov (born January 27, 1948) is a Soviet-born Russian American dancer and choreographer, one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century.
Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) is known as the greatest English ballerina. She was born in Reigate, Surrey. Her most famous partner was Nureyev.
Darcey Andrea Bussell CBE (born April 27, 1969) is a retired English ballerina. She was Principle Dancer at the Royal Ballet School and is considered to be one of the greatest English ballerinas of all time. She attended her first ballet lessons only because her friends were going and often spent more time under the piano then actually doing the ballet class!
Watch Ballet online
A ballet dance video. “Anaheim Ballet: More Than Dance…”
Young ballet dancers audition for the London Children’s Ballet 2009 production of Snow White (Peacock Theatre, in London’s West End).
Children between 7 and 11 years old performing a little choreography for their parents – very sweet.
An insight into the English National Ballet.
Improvisation is key to being a good dancer. It comes from being able to listen to music, and interpret the emotions and story through movement.
It is also done with very little preparation – there are no hours of choreography to do, no weeks of research – it’s about reaction and feeling.
You will know – sometimes a song comes on and you get a certain urge to move. This is especially true for dancers – though it is not simply a wiggle or step and tap. You hear accents that require leaps, or crescendos that require expansive moves.
Your body reacts to show whether the song portrays hurt or joy.
Talking through what a song makes you feel – is a great way to introduce even the littlest ones to improvisation. Does it make them happy? Do they think they should run or jump? Should they float like a fairy? Does it sound angry and stampy?
This is just one way dance is amazing for a child’s development – especially their emotional well being. Being able to understand and recognise feelings that come from events and sounds.
Pick some of your favourite songs and ask them what they think. Things like the music from “Frozen” or “Aladdin” by Disney are great as they are designed to evoke feelings.