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.
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
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 07969 125 975
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.
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?
These steps may seem simple but they can be tricky when your children are first learning to do them. But they are key to almost all forms of dance so getting them right is important.
They use different parts of the feet, there is the change in weight, there are positions of the legs to consider too. So taking a little time with them will really help their development!
Making sure that they understand what parts of the feet they need to use is important. There is the flat foot – where the whole foot is in contact with the floor – just like when you are standing. There’s no weight more at the front or the back – it is even across the whole foot.
Then there is the ball of the foot – where if you say stand on your tip toes (unless you are a pointe trained ballet dancer) is where most people will end up. For this step they will be using the flat foot and the ball of the foot.
This step can be done on the spot or travelling. However the idea is the same. The “change” is swapping the weight from one foot to another – just like a step.
So starting with this idea of a travelling ball change – simply step right foot, then left.
To make it a ball change – you step onto the ball of the foot for the right step, then onto the flat foot of the left. So there seems a little lift up on the right (ball) step, and then a drop when back onto the flat foot of the left.
Exactly the same idea if you step with your left foot first.
If it is on the spot – again – same idea just change the weight from one to the other with the first foot/step being on the ball and the other flat foot.
You can turn this step into a huge range of other things – you can turn it, and a kick, add direction, height, incorporate a huge number of other ideas too.
Once you have the basics – have a play around and see what you can do
In Dance a turn is a rotation of the body – they can be quarter turns, half turns, full turns or even multiple – turning two or three times!
There are many types of turns and they will have different names depending on the style of dance as well as what is actually involved in the turn.
Some you turn on one leg – this is known as the supporting leg, the other is in this instance “airborne” or off the floor on most occasions and is generally known as the working leg. Others you turn on both feet, some you turn in the air. If it is a turn in the air the first leg to leave the floor is the leading leg.
We thought some links to youtube would be helpful so you can see different styles of turns that are most commonly done in our classes. Simply click on the blue link to be taken to the video
Pirouettes: how to do a pirouette for jazz or modern dance, though it mentions ballet and the ideas are the same the working leg would be turned out – http://youtu.be/1tACJ0bjPiE
This post covers the basics for your ballet pirouette – http://youtu.be/LLTM_KP0Dsg
Pivot turns: popular in jazz and freestyle, as well as theatre – http://youtu.be/5CxMKEx6bZo
It is important to spot when turning to avoid getting dizzy – this means you find a spot to look at and focus your attention here – as you turn – your eyes stay focus and your head moves around at the last moment to look back at the same spot.
This takes practice and helps if you hold your core or your tummy muscles strong to help balance
In some dance genres and in Labanotation, a turn in which the performer rotates on a pivot point without traveling is known as a pivot.Pivots may be performed on one or on both feet; the latter is sometimes called a twist turn.