Choosing to enrol your child in an extracurricular program can be a daunting task. With so many options to choose from nowadays, selecting an activity can prove to be overwhelming for some. So why choose dance?
Whether your child is a once a week dancer wanting to dance recreationally, or a competitive dancer with dreams of becoming a professional in the field, dance classes can provide your child with a wealth of knowledge not only relevant to the dance studio, but to the world outside of dance and the lives they have ahead of them.
Dance is a fusion of artistry and athleticism. Training daily, some competitive level dancers are in the studio working on their craft 15-20+ hours per week. While learning to execute movements in a technically correct fashion, dancers also learn the various ways their bodies function and move through space, which helps to spur their imagination. A good dance teacher is able to incorporate multiple forms of academia into their dance classes. We teach our students the proper names of muscles, and how they move, along with information surrounding types of injuries, prevention and treatment of them. Little snippets of musical terminology and theory along with ballet terminology, theory, and dance history can easily be incorporated into classes. Whether they realise it or not, in the studio students learn about a variety of topics.
Success in school is important and completion of homework is strongly emphasized within the studio. Students learn time management skills from a very early age as for many families, it becomes a rule that if homework is not completed, dancers aren’t allowed to attend dance class. For a child that thoroughly enjoys the activity they participate in, they don’t want to miss a chance to dance for any reason! In teaching children to manage their time early on in life, they are better able to handle a higher work load and multi task various aspects of their adult lives.
Many young dancers have dreams of becoming professional performers. While not every child that steps into a dance class will have a career on stage, introducing your child to the world of dance and the performing arts can open the doors to endless opportunities they may not have realized otherwise. Nowadays, there are many college and university programs in the performing arts as well. Many dance students go on to have careers in other fields involving dance but not necessarily performing: costuming, history, kinesiology, journalism, lighting, set design, nutrition, stage managers, talent agents, teachers, and many more – the opportunities are endless!
Dance is both a team and individual activity, as most dance classes take place in a group setting. Enrolling your young child in dance classes is a great way to socialize them with other children early on. As young as two and a half years old, children learn to come into the dance classroom without their parent. They learn to listen to the teacher, follow instructions, and work with a partner or group. Along with learning basic dance steps in their classroom, children will practice counting, hearing the beat within music, improve memorization, spatial awareness, and gross motor skills. While some children may start the year quiet and withdrawn, by the end of the season, they have gained enough self-confidence to even perform a routine on stage at their recital!
As the generations pass, respect seems to be something that’s seen less and less often, however in a dance class it is something that is taught on a regular basis. Dancers are encouraged to show up for their classes on time in the proper uniform required for each class. They learn at a young age to be patient and take their turn, be respectful of others by not talking during class, and clap for other dancers when they have completed a move or demonstration. It is common courtesy to finish every class with a curtsy from the students to the teacher to thank them for the class. It is our hope that respect learned in the studio can carry through to other aspects of a child’s life.
Through the hard work dancers put into their studies they learn success, and with that often come lessons in failure. Success can come in many forms; perhaps it’s being accepted into a dance company, a prestigious program of study, a desirable mark at competition, or achieving a goal of a new step in class. However, success doesn’t always come easy, in the dance studio and in life. As teachers, we try to encourage students not to give up if they do not receive their desired result immediately, and to continue working towards their goals – we are teaching them patience and perseverance. This is a valuable life lesson – not every future job interview they attend will be successful, and not every promotion will come easily. Though we all want to see our children succeed in everything they do, hard work and determination help build a stronger character for their futures.
While it’s important to provide dancers with a strong technical background, it is equally as important to foster a love for dance by building a fun and enjoyable atmosphere within the classroom. Not every student that comes into a dance class will become a professional in the field. Much like every child hockey player will not play in the NHL. However, when you invest in your child’s extra-curricular activity, it is an investment into their future. It is our hope that as dance teachers, we will not only provide our students with a strong technical background, but will teach them valuable life lessons as well – Lessons and skills that will help them in their futures.
Michele Mortimer RAD RTS, AISTD (NDB), NBS dip, BFA Dance
Element Dance Art Inc.