Tutus and Trainers? Whatever your style - just dance!
Ballet versus Street - getting your child into Dance
Kids just LOVE to dance - and who can blame them? Not only is it lots of fun, but also a great way to get children of all ages moving.
According to a recent study ‘Dance’ is in the top 5 most popular after-school activities amongst Primary AND Secondary school children. (1) There is something for everyone when it comes to dance. Whatever the music or style your child is into there is a discipline of dance to suit them. From Ballet to Street Dance - two dance forms that could be considered to be at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of musicality and style. But could they in fact be quite similar? Perhaps even compliment each other in terms of benefits for your child?
In this blog we will bring insights into the benefits of both Ballet and Street Dance. Along with some fun facts and top tips on how to get your child pirouetting or krumping into the dance studio.
Did you know…
The English National Ballet has 64 dancers from 20 countries. Each female dancer has a monthly allowance of up to 10 pairs of pointe shoes. (2)
Street Dance has roots reaching back as far as the 1600s! (3)
The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) has a presence in 85 countries around the world with about 13,500 members (4)
‘Popping, Locking, Krumping and Clowning’ are all forms of Street Dance.
Dance - An Overview:
One question that is often asked is whether dance is considered a sport or an art form? Thinking about Ballet and Street Dance, the history and the story behind the development of these two dance forms may surprise you...
The roots of Ballet can be traced back to the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th Century. The form of dance spread from Italy to France, with help from Catherine de Medici, where Ballet flourished. In 1661 King Louis XIV (an accomplished dancer himself) founded the world’s first Ballet academy. (5) Think of Ballet and you think of dancers ‘floating on air’ gracefully and effortlessly. More of an art form perhaps? Ballet classes are certainly artistic and creative, but can also be competitive. Some dance schools run syllabuses from institutions such as RAD offering examinations to achieve medals and trophies. An achievement most children would love to aspire to. Not forgetting the fitness required to become a professional ballet dancer. Ballet could definitely be considered both an art and a sport.
On the other hand Street Dance is considered more ‘current’ and modern compared to Ballet. However there is evidence to trace influences of Street Dance as far back at the 1600 with the emergence of Juba. Street Dance has roots and developed from some amazing dance movements of history such as Tap Dance and Lindy-Hop right through to Breakdance and Hip-Hop.(3) As a genre it too has a rich history. With the popularity of the ‘Step Up’ films and the success of dance troupes such as Diversity, Street Dance is definitely here to stay! The style of dance is considered ‘fast-paced, energetic and creative’. It could be considered to be ‘sporty’ due to it high energy levels and the stamina required. However looking at the history of Street Dance there is also a clear creativity to it. Allowing for artistic expression, along with the classical style of Ballet, Street Dance is also recognised by the Royal Academy of Dance.
Whether your child dreams of being in a dance troupe such as Diversity or a budding Billy Elliott, there are clear benefits for both Ballet Classes for children and Street Dance lessons.
Dance - The Benefits:
Step it Out!
Ballet and Street Dance are great exercise, perfect for getting your kids moving, increasing their stamina and muscle tone. It is also brilliant for developing co-ordination as both forms of dance offer elements of grace and balance, and control of the body. Ultimately contributing towards improving posture, flexibility and agility.
I’m in the mood for dancing...
Taking part in dance class helps children with their musicality as it teaches them how the rhythm of the music and movement work together. Developing this love for music and movement will allow children to express themselves creatively through dance. Both Ballet and Street Dance encourage this and both classes will allow children to ‘let off steam’ in a creative space outside of the classroom.
1,2,3 … 1,2,3 ...
Learning a dance routine albeit for a Ballet exam or end-of-term Street Dance show gets children to focus and therefore develops skills around discipline and dedication. It encourages children to keep practising a move or a series of steps until they get it right.
Dance for all!
It’s important to remember that both boys and girls can enjoy Ballet and Street Dance. If your child is interested in either form of dance, read on for top tips on what you will need, what to consider and how to get them into local lessons.
Dance - The Kit:
Comfort is Key
Each dance school will have different requirements when it comes to suitable clothing for dance lessons. The best thing to do is to check with the dance teacher/instructor in advance. In all instances it’s important your child feels comfortable during their dance lesson. Some Ballet school may require a specific uniform, others might keep it casual.
Bring your dancing shoes!
Ballet lessons require the appropriate footwear. Again, check with the dance school for suggestions on Ballet shoes and where to buy them. There might be a different requirement depending on the age or ability of your child. For Street Dance comfortable soft training shoes ‘trainers’ are usually worn. If you’re unsure, speak to the instructor.
Dancing can be thirsty work and it’s important to keep your child hydrated. Bring a water bottle and perhaps a snack for after the dance lesson to keep their energy levels up.
Dance - How to get involved:
Children can start basic Ballet or Movement classes as early as 2 years old. Before the age of 6 it might be worthwhile looking at ‘pre-ballet’ or ‘movement’ classes. It might be worth finding out how long each dance lesson is and how many students are in a class. Research suggests that ‘children aged 3-5 years can focus for 35-45 minutes on average.’ Children of this age also benefit from small class sizes (no more than 15 students)’ (6)
If your child wants to explore Ballet as a discipline, a good age to start them off is between 6-8 years of age. Lessons of up to an hour a week, with 20 students or less are ideal. This will help them to focus on learning.
Visiting the dance school before your child starts a lesson is a good idea. That way you can explore the equipment and observe the teacher and students in action. It might be a good idea to find out if the dance school provides any free trial or taster sessions for your child to join in before committing to lessons.
Dance - What to Consider:
Think about what format the dance class takes. Is the same structure in place for each lesson? It might be useful to also find out what syllabus your dance class follows. Both Ballet and Street Dance are available via Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). There is also the syllabus structured under ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing). Structure to the lesson should include a warm-up and cool down at the start/end of each lesson. Perhaps also consider whether the dance teacher looks to explore individual development alongside any syllabus they might use.
We are very fortunate to have some fantastic dance schools in our local area. If your child just has to dance then why not take a look at some of the local dance schools. We have listed a few here:
Examples of local Dance Schools:
Dynamic Dance Studios - Kingston
Founded in 2008 by Emily Stephenson who has 20 years of teaching and performance experience. Dynamic Dance Studios has 30 different classes on their timetable suitable for babies right up to adults. They teach a diverse range of genres from hip hop and break dance to classical ballet.
Pupils have the opportunity to perform in shows with their peers and take exams with ISTD board. All teachers are fully trained, qualified and experienced in their genre of teaching and are DBS checked.
Vital Signz Dance - Kingston
Vital Signz Dance run fun, friendly dance classes in Kingston. They welcome children of all dancing abilities from absolute beginners to advanced. Their extensive dance team structure allows students lots of opportunities to perform in competitions, as well as local shows and performances.
Vital Signz Dance run UDO Street Dance Exams annually and perform two dance school shows a year. As well as lessons run termly, they also offer drop in classes on Saturdays which are flexible and fun. During these lessons your child will learn foundations of Street Dance as well as new style choreography.
Danceforce was established in 1987 and their current principal Carol Winter has been running the school since 1997. The dance school has over 300 pupils aged from 18 months to adult. Danceforce are dedicated to providing quality education and specialist training in a diverse range of dance: including Ballet, Modern, Tap, Jazz, Street Dance.
Ballet lesson are available for children as young as 3 years old with their 30 minute ‘Nursery Ballet’ lessons. Danceforce Ballet classes follow the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabus and offer Reception Ballet (4-5 years) and Pre Primary to Grade 8 Ballet (from 5-6 years onwards). They also offer ISTD Modern Dance from aged 4 years old. Kids will have the opportunity to take part in Dance Festivals and their popular dance show.