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
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
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!
Mondays focus on theatre branch classes and look at classes to develop technique and dance skills, Thursdays focus on the performance and theatrical side
What is tap and theatre craft?
This is an hour combination class in which dancers look at the technique of theatre craft and tap dancing. Which are often seen together in musicals and on stage.
In theatre craft, dancers study the technique needed for the theatre shows, musicals and pantomimes. In tap, dancers look at rhythms and footwork. Both also include performance elements.
We look to musicals old and new – from Singin’ in the Rain and Oklahoma to modern Wicked and Lion King. It’s about creating performances for the stage and to tell a story
How is the class structured
Generally 40 minutes will be dedicated to theatre and 20 to tap – this is obviously dependent on many factors including show planning, assessments and preparation
Theatre has several exercised designed to warm up and condition the body as a whole and these will start our class, followed by technique and combos and then choreography time. Tap will include similar style with warms ups and drills, then small combos and then choreography.
What is needed for this class?
Dancers will require tap shoes for this class – please contact us to order a pair. We understand that you may wish to give it a couple of weeks before investing – technique can be practiced with socks on. Tap shoes will cost approximately £22-30 including a set of heel taps
Generally our school leotard should be worn with jazz pants/shorts over the top. Theatre craft would be best performed with ballet shoes. As always – leggings and a vest are perfectly acceptable for the first few classes
Hair should be tied back and no jewellery to be worn.
Dancers are given the opportunity to take part in I.D.T.A grade examinations to show their progression. This is a wonderful class to compliment our Youth Theatre programme – for information on multi class discounts, sibling discounts or enrollment please just fill in our contact form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07969125975
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
- Posture – keep lifted up. Engage your core or ‘use your tummy muscles’ so you are feeling tall and upright and strong
- 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
- 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!
- 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
- 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
- Decide to finish your turn – don’t fall out of it, decide to end the single or the double with a clean movment
- 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
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:
- Be in the moment – with the music – explore, react, and don’t overthink
- Listen and be aware of what else is going on, but also just move as you feel
- Be yourself – embrace your skills and style – don’t be too hard on yourself
- It’s okay to “copy” – be inspired by others and put your own twist on it – make it YOU
- Don’t compare yourself – everyone has different styles, interpretations, skills, favourite moves – so embrace yours and celebrate others but don’t compare
- Be free – don’t be shy!
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!
To improve as a dancer you will need to work on your flexibility – ideally some work at least 4 times a week – these could be in class, at home or a dedicated flexibility class.
Aside from just being more flexible the benefits to dancers of improved flexibility are many.
Firstly, you can do more moves, if you are more flexible you can advance basic moves and try new ones, giving you a bigger dance vocabulary.
Secondly, reduced risk of injury. If you have the ability to move more you are less likely to pull or strain a muscle. You will recover better from tougher sessions too.
Style – you can use your flexibility to add your own style to a piece or work or be more inventive in the improvisation times. You can make more use of the floor or the space, you can create new shapes and move in different ways.
You can also move more freely, steps will seem less of a chore if you don’t have to put a much effort into the movement to reach a high kick or to move the body.
Improving your flexibility
We recommend working on your flexibility 4 times a week. Ideally with some gentle stretches each day. This will result in great gains in your ability in a short time.
Daily stretches could include:
- lunges with back leg extended straight
- pike or seated forward fold
- straddle (seated wide V with a reach forward)
- the butterfly (soles of the feet together and knees towards the floor)
- floor to back bend – lifting from flat on your front to stretch the back
You will work out your own routine as you develop as a dancer – just remember to work both sides and don’t over stretch – work within safe limits.
I’d also like to bring your attention to this great piece by The Ballet Blog – “Is Overstretching Bad?” Please do have a read