Not only does September signify the start of school, but for most dance studios it is also the beginning of a new season of dance. One of the most common questions during registration is “Which class should I register my child for?” For those who are new to the world of dance, not only will you have to choose which level and class time you would like, but you will also need to determine in which style you would like to enrol your dancer. With so many different genres available, how do you know which one to choose?
For parents of younger children, a combination class is a great way to introduce them to a variety of different subjects, all within the convenience of one class. Ballet, Jazz, and Tap are often combined in lessons of 45 – 60 minutes in length, dependent on the studio preference, and age of the dancers.
Ballet has withstood the test of time, and to this day remains a popular choice for many young dancers. It is a generally a slower moving subject, focusing on grace, poise, and ease of movement. Ballet is considered to be the root of all dance forms, and as such is a class that should be taken by all dancers wishing to pursue dance at a higher level. After many years of experience, pointe classes are usually offered to advanced students, at the discretion of the studio’s ballet director. A ballet class is a great way to supplement any other dance class – what the children learn in a ballet class carries on throughout their other subjects.
Jazz: a high energy dance form incorporating various jumps and turns, flexibility, and style. Often performed to popular music, this upbeat class also works on co-ordination, strength, and performance quality. A great choice for an upbeat, energetic child wanting to move! For those with a similar personality, HipHop is another great choice. Dancers learn how to move like the stars of their favourite music videos in this increasingly popular dance style. This class features the latest, most popular music and moves. Hiphop is often not recommended under the age of 5, as it is a more stylized dance form. Because of this reason, studios often suggest taking a ballet, jazz, or creative movement class when under the age of 5 in order to learn the basic elements of dance and movement. For an older student who is just starting out in dance, hiphop has proven to be a very popular choice!
Another classic dance style is Tap; a percussive dance form focusing on rhythm, and musicality; an energetic and fast paced class in which dancers work progressively to develop agility, co-ordination, and technique.
Aside from the “core subjects” listed above, many studios have additional classes available to their students as well.
Acrobatics (or acro for short) is a fusion of dance and gymnastics. This class focuses on the development of flexibility, strength, and control, in order to achieve various tricks such as balances and tumbling. At the beginner level, students learn a variety of skills starting with somersaults, cartwheels and walk-overs, and progressing towards more advanced tricks such as aerial movements, tumbling sequences, and difficult balances. Time is spent working on both individual skills as well as unique partner and groups tricks. While the majority of time in an acro class is spent working on tricks, it is highly recommended to take an additional dance class in one or more of the core subjects, in order supplement this class.
Lyrical and Contemporary are fairly new styles in the world of dance. Both extremely popular, and constantly changing and evolving, these two subjects can be quite beautiful and intriguing in both quality and creativity in choreography. These subjects are a fusion of ballet and jazz technique, with an emphasis on emotion and portrayal of the music. These subjects are recommended for experienced dancers, as they require a great deal of technical background, and therefore it is strongly recommended and often required that dancers continue with their ballet and jazz technique classes.
Does your child have dreams of being on Broadway? Musical Theatre is a combination of acting and dancing, and occasionally singing as well! In a musical theatre class dancers have the opportunity to act out a character and story line. This type of class is a great opportunity for students wishing to gain experience in the performing arts/music theatre industry.
Every style of dance is unique in its own respect, as is every child. It is important to consider your child’s personality and interests when choosing which style of dance to enrol them in. While it is important to consider which type of dance will suit your child’s interests the best, it is also important to select a dance studio that best suits the needs of your own individual family. As dance instructors, we strive to make your child’s dance education one that is positive and enjoyable. Regardless of their past experience, age, or ability level, there is a class out there to suit the needs of every child.
Michele Mortimer RAD RTS, AISTD (NDB), NBS dip, BFA Dance
Element Dance Art Inc.