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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.

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Early Years Dance

The Benefits of Dance for children

There are many clubs and activities available for children – right from pre-school age to teenagers – so why choose dance? What are the benefits of dance to a child – aside from it being a fun activity?

Physical Development

The youngest are taught basic steps and creative movement in class which creates the lovely performances we see at the end of term. However it goes a little further it helps children to understand how to move safely and imaginatively with bodily control, co-ordination, flexibility and balance. It helps improve spatial awareness and promotes a greater range of motion. Dance is an activity that offers a greater range of motion, co-ordination, strength, and endurance than most other physical activities – it incorporates the full body and so is great for total body fitness and as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Creative Development

Dance is more than physical exercise – it is allows ideas to be communicated through physical actions and promotes non-verbal communication via movement and expression. It helps children to use their imagination to create ideas, characters and narratives which helps in their cognitive development.

Personal, Social, and Emotional Development

Dance is social – whether performing along or in a team – it involves other people – both as observers and participants. It encourages children to become more social, to develop trust in others and interacting in new social situations. It encourages them to work alone, in partners or small teams and as part of a large group – increasing the range of social and group dynamics that they are exposed to. It helps them to decide how to use movement alone and with others both to explore their feelings and share their views.

The range of music available and the people the children meet will allow them to explore new cultures, ideas, beliefs, and increase their understanding of the world around them. This taken with accepting the moral code of the group – generally an open welcome to all people regardless of race, gender, ability or beliefs encourages open mindedness.

Communication Development

Dance is non-verbal but uses both music with and without words. It helps children to understand expression through music, noise, rhythm as well as words, text, rhyme and stories. Ballet allows exploration of stories through music and mime, tap incorporates rhythm to express emotion, street dance expresses its history and the musicality of songs.

It allows children to develop their skills in negotiation and conversational skills in both taking instruction and working to develop their own ideas. It builds skills in observations and appreciation through talking about their own performance as well as others.

Dance is based on learning – kinaesthetic learning with understanding of physical and sensory experiences, develops and understanding that language and movement is intertwined so promoting sensory awareness, cognition, and consciousness.