There’s no doubt that ballet classes for kids improve posture and flexibility. What you may not know is that they also improve kinesthetic intelligence. This is your child’s awareness of their body and how it moves. Ballet creates a sense of physical self-confidence is so very important as your child becomes a teen.
Ballet classes improve children’s awareness of their body and the space around them, so it’s great for improving coordination. Kids who study ballet at an early age can learn better self-discipline, as well as strengthening their bodies. These classes improve balance and coordination.
They can also improve social skills. Ballet classes where students perform together teach children how to work together and interpret body language as they dance together.
Dance classes for kids are taught at several levels. Ballet classes for beginners and intermediate level students should be comprised of no more than 10 or 12 students in order for each student to receive adequate personal attention. In advanced level ballet, classes can be as large as 20 to 25 students, depending on the size of the studio.
How Ballet Classes for Kids Are Taught
Ballet instructors should be professionally trained and certified by test to teach. They should be certified by recognized national and international dance organizations. Most exemplary ballet instructors maintain membership in these organizations as a means of continuous education.
Ballet is taught to children in beginner level classes at the ballet barre. Sensibly, ballet should begin at around 7 years of age, due to the physiological stage of development of children at this age.
There are 10 basic fundamentals taught in ballet classes for kids to improve their kinesthetic awareness. These include:
- Barre exercises for the legs and feet.
- Barre exercises for the arms (Port de Bra).
- Exercice au Milieu.
- Port de Bra au milieu.
- The five positions of the arms, hands, and feet*
*The number of positions depends on the syllabus of ballet taught. For example, Cecchetti and Kirov. In Cecchetti syllabus, there are seven positions of the arms and five of the feet. In Kirov syllabus, there are three positions of the arms and three of the feet.
Barre Exercises for the Legs and Feet
In order to strengthen the body and increase flexibility, ballet classes for kids focus on barre exercises for feet and by association, legs. These early ballet classes for kids rely mainly on their ability to take and apply instruction while performing exercises at the barre.
The first ballet classes for kids include teaching proper position of the torso. This includes, standing erect with stomach muscles tightly tucked, the hips properly aligned, and head erect. This is taught facing the barre. Before working at the barre, kids learn how to stretch their muscles. This aids their awareness of their physical endurance. These exercises may consist of fundamental lessons for learning how to balance on half pointe.
The next phase of barre exercises consists of learning directions used in ballet such as en avant (to the front), ala seconde (to the side), and en derriere (to the back). At this point, students begin to learn the five positions of the feet. It may be three, if the Kirov syllabus is used. These ballet classes for kids are the most important part of ballet studies. The positions of feet are used throughout the entire performance of sequences of ballet steps. They’re even used in other forms of dance, like jazz and modern dance.
Barre Exercises for the Arms
While at the barre in ballet classes for kids, they learn how to move their arms in synchrony with their legs and feet. This helps trains kids produce a more fluid movement. It also teaches them how to use their arms to help balance and during turning movements.
Exercice au Milieu (Exercises from Center Floor)
Once kids perfect barre exercises, they continue to use these as a way to “warm up” muscles before moving to the center floor. Dancers now practice barre exercises in the center of the studio floor. Kids become aware of their mastery of their personal sense of space and balance. During exercice au milieu, kids may soon begin to learn ballet en pointe.
Port de Bra au Milieu
After warming up at the barre and exercising at center floor, kids in ballet classes learn Port de bra (Movement and carriage of the arms). Kids begin to understand how proper arm movement aids in proper performance during steps like pique tourne and chaine tour.
Five Positions of the Arms, Hands, and Feet
Once kids in ballet classes for kids know the correct positions for arms, hands and feet, they begin to link them to the dance steps they are learning. Some of these may be pas de bourree, petit and grand battement, and soutenou. They can see and feel the motion of arms, hands, and feet affect their performance. They can feel the difference in their balance from one arm position to the next. This is the point in kids’ ballet classes where they can feel the association of the steps to the music. They’ll then be able to apply different positions and motions of arms, hands, and feet for physical stability.
Other important classes include spotting turns to avoid dizziness. Some dance educators find that how teaching kids to “spot their turns” can be overwhelming. Kids’ ballet classes necessarily focus on this most important skill. Generally, kids learn the art of “spotting turns” in less than a few weeks.
One of the most valuable skills taught in ballet classes for kids is choreography. In classical ballet, choreography is usually based on traditional dance steps. Dancers perform these steps in ballets like Swan Lake, Giselle, or The Nutcracker Suite. Young children love these ballets for their story themes. In lyrical ballet, choreography is more free form and similar to themes seen in modern dance. The benefit of teaching kids choreography is that they acquire the ability to experience the full impact of their ballet skills and perfect their coordination.
In kids’ ballet classes at the intermediate and advanced levels, perfecting technique is extremely necessary to move forward. Many kids at these levels of dance become quite accomplished and merely need to perfect their timing or learn to work with partners in adagio choreography.
Performance skills are the final part of ballet classes for kids. They’re an important way for children to share the pleasure of everything they’ve learned and worked for with an audience. Performance can also help kids increase their confidence, as well as being a memorable part of growing up.
Ballet classes for kids helps them develop a wide range of physical skills. It also improves their awareness of their body and how it moves in space. In ballet, the mirror is the very best method of perfecting these skills and improving awareness. When kids compare their mirror reflection to that of their instructors, they are learning the most important part of self-awareness: self-improvement.
Images taken from depositphotos.com.