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
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.
Dance classes are not just about the kicks, turns, and routines. They have so many more benefits for your child than just the obvious “be a better dancer”. I recently read the book ‘Partnering Dance and Education’ by Judith Lynne Hanna. Though written in 1999 – it still has some important points that are relevant today.
Why learning dance is valuable
- Dance aids the development of “kinesthetic intelligence” – what is that you may ask. Basically it is the capacity to manipulate or handle objects well, and use a variety of physical skills. Being able to move better and with more freedom and skill is a benefit we all should welcome.
- It creates opportunities for self-expression and communication – it helps with their emotional development, and gives them an outlet for emotions when words cannot.
- It teaches creativity, problem solving, risk taking, making judgements outside of “normal life” and higher order thinking. It’s thinking outside the box, being open to new ideas and thought – from problem solving as a pre-schooler to helping with exam essays in key stage 3.
- It fosters an individual’s ability to better interpret interpersonal nonverbal communication. To read peoples body language, to understand emotions without being told – developing their empathy.
- It develops a respect for other cultures and times – be it classical ballet or modern hip hop, African dance or interpretive contemporary. It teaches appreciation of all things, even if its not “their cup of tea!”
- It enhances their quality of life – mental, physical and emotionally, not just when they are dancing, but the health and enjoyment it has provided long term.
- Its good physical exercise – it gets them moving from a young age, it teaches them to appreciate their health and their bodies, a good school will instill the values of not just rehearsal but nutrition and rest.
We’d love to welcome your children to our classes (or you to our adult dance fitness classes with www.projectfitablous.co.uk) so why not get in touch to see if we are a right fit for you?
Or simply chat with us 07969125975 and see if we can direct you to some helpful resources.