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girls' ballet class
by Lynda Forster
Dance Art Studio

Preparing to perform a dance on stage is a journey of commitment and dedication, bringing hours of practise to life, bringing sheer joy to the audience and an experience like no other for the dancer.

Lots of little girls and boys express an interest to start dance classes. They have no inhibitions, a natural sense of rhythm and love to dance ‘like no one is watching’ when they hear a tune. Many skip into their first class without ever looking back to their parents, whilst others, with the help of their teacher, need a few lessons to gently ease into it building their confidence with each lesson.

Dance classes have many benefits at all ages which can really help set children up for life. Children can be faced with lots of worries and upsets during their school life so having a hobby they love and a safe place to go is, at times, a huge relief.

For preschoolers a dance class will open up a whole new world – they will soon be able to isolate different parts of their bodies to move separately (a huge plus for co-ordination) and develop better overall concentration. Infant children will develop these skills in more depth, and will soon be able to raise their hand and be more involved in their school lessons because they’ve learnt participation within a dance class. Once assemblies and seasonal performances at school come round they’ll be happily volunteering for the lead parts!

At junior school, being a dancer will teach them to be physically and mentally stronger, gain more flexibility through their bodies and learn ‘time management’ to help manage academia and extra circular activities more easily which in turn will help with their all important and busy social life, with their school and dance friends – lots of parties to go to!

Starting senior school can be overwhelming for many children but most schools have a dance department where they can share their interests, make new friends and start showcasing their dance and creative skills in performances. Overall they will be confident, happier and more active teenagers. If their dance school has an exam option, they would have taken plenty of them since they were young, so again they will have learnt essential life skills; the purpose of working towards something to the best of their personal ability, revision skills, commitment skills and the experience of actually taking an exam, so hopefully the GCSE exam room will not feel as daunting.

Performing in their first dance show is where all the skills mentioned above unfold. They’ve had to work hard and wait patiently for their moment. Seeing the excitement build in the lead up to a dance school show makes all the months of hard work and effort by the teacher and the performers so worthwhile.

When practise starts for their first performance it is impossible for young children to visualise the finished piece and understand why repetition is so vital. By the time they reach dress rehearsal day, when it all comes together and the buzz is palpable, they completely understand and in fact start asking for more rehearsals so that they can work on their performance skills. At this stage they really understand it’s a team effort and they all become such close friends. Reassurance about having nerves is spoken about in a positive way by explaining about the fight or fight mode our bodies go into. It is a journey from start to finish, with them seeing how choreographers create their work from a starting point through to the finished piece. Their eyes are opened to new styles, techniques and interpretations to various music style. If the show has a theme, they have gained knowledge on the narrative and learnt how the whole production blends together.

The costumes are an extension of the dance and compliment choreography – after a couple of shows even the youngest dancers start to develop an eye for detail and will soon say if a costume isn’t quite looking right or needs an accessory added! It’s an opportunity for all the various ages to come together to inspire and support each other.

So many emotions are experienced during performance day, the excitement and happiness on their faces when they are waiting in the wings to go on stage is joyful. The nervous excitement transforms into electric energy and then the thrill of the applause which of course they love embracing!

Confident children leave the theatre feeling very proud of themselves and will hopefully remember the whole experience for many years. When they return to regular grade lessons they have a positive approach, more motivation and an understanding that you gain more from things by giving your best. A truly valuable life lesson.

Dance Art Studio is located in the Fiveways and Preston Park area of Brighton offering pre-school ballet and dance for 3-4 year olds and graded ballet, tap, modern theatre dance and street as well as boys only tap and jazz. Exams and performance opportunities. We also hold holiday workshops.