Please note, more general information is set out under Important Information and may also help give answers to other questions you might have.
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At what age should my child begin dance classes?
Most dance schools welcome students as young as 2 ½ years to 3 years of age into dance classes. The structure of a dance class becomes more formal from about 5 to 6 years ofage. Classes are designed to cater for the interest, confidence, physical capabilities, developmental age and attention span of different age groups.
What do the students do in Dance Explorers dance classes?
At an early age, the students are introduced to the structure of the dance class. Basic body awareness and co-ordination is developed through simple and fun exercises. We learn about ‘good toes and naughty toes’, and dance exercises that are fun, simple and age appropriate, creating happy and rewarding activities for young ones.
Listening skills are developed. Spatial awareness is introduced as it applies to dance i.e. making lines or circles, following a leader or making use of the space individually. Waiting for your turn is also encouraged as young students still have to learn that not everyone can be first, all the time. Students are introduced to the foundation of ballet and/or jazz styles.
At what age does dance training become more formalised?
Dance is, and should always remain, a fun activity, however to train a dancer in the technique of dance, formalised training begins at about 6 years of age. This is also fun; however the classes from this age need to incorporate technical components, bearing in mind the age of the student.
Classical ballet is boring. Why is it so often recommended to have ballet lessons?
Not all students will want to take ballet classes and for those who are looking for a fun activity, jazz classes will certainly offer this.
Classical ballet training however, offers what jazz classes alone cannot offer. If you think of the dancer’s body as an instrument, then the dancer must prepare that instrument to encompass an enormous range of human movement. The use of turnout, as only dancers are required to understand and utilise, can only be accomplished through constant and repetitive dance training. Classical dance training is the only way to achieve this with the required strength, flexibility and control. Classical ballet training also focuses on posture and placement, and the co-ordinated movement of arms, legs and torso. In dance terminology, we call this “ line” and dancers develop this body awareness from an early age.
Are ballet exams necessary?
Ballet exams are not compulsory, but are recommended to give the students a goal, something to strive for, and give parents a gauge of their child’s progress. If wishing to proceed to higher education studies in dance, it is definitely helpful for entry to tertiary institutions, although many of these auditions are practical in nature. However at any tertiary level, sound technical training is required and therefore exam participation recommended.
Does a dancer need to have classical technique to be able to perform as a dancer?
As a dance lover or semi- professional, dance can be enjoyed regardless of skill level or technique. If a career at some stage is envisaged, as a dancer or as a dance teacher, then classical dance training is essential.
Not all dancers will ever use their classical dance training to dance as a classical dancer, but very few will ever dance professionally without it.
Why is more than one class per week necessary?
Everything that a dancer has to remember needs to be conditioned into their brain and reinterpreted in their body. At an early age, these actions are simple, or appear so to us as adults, but as the dancer develops, these actions are more difficult and happen in a split second. To be safe and accurate, this conditioning takes time. Apart from just remembering the choreography of a dance, there is a lot going on, especially in keeping the body safe from injury. It is impossible to do this, and still see significant progress, in only one hour a week.
Should I encourage my child to practise at home?
There are many things that can be done at home. Stretching and limbering is good. Running through the choreography is good. However, supervision of technique is best left for in the classroom. Bad technique is harder to undo then correct training in the first place.
Does my child need to be in the concert?
No, the concert is not a compulsory event. The reason a concert is provided, is to allow the students to show what they have achieved and this can really only be done on stage. Dance, after all, is a performing art, and the experience of being on stage is where it all comes together. Technique, choreography, costuming, makeup, lights, camera, action! All the fun stuff for the students!
Is it true that costumes are expensive?
Costumes for once a week students are generally about $55.00 to $65.00, bearing in mind that costs of fabric and dressmaking charges are always a changing factor. If you calculate this over a 40 week teaching year, it works out at about $1.50 a week. Plus the costume then is yours to keep and wear again for school functions or dress up. Students who attend multiple classes will be required to have extra costumes for each type of class attended.
Performing group costumes may be more expensive, but then these students wear them at least four times a year over 2 or 3 years, and then can often be sold down to a younger group.
At my last school, we hired our costumes. Why do you not do that?
Costumes that are hired over a number of years, and worn by many different students, can often become shabby. They need to be well maintained and carefully cleaned. Students develop pride in their appearance if they are responsible for the safe keeping of their ‘ special’ costume.
Why is it that videoing and the use of photographic equipment is not allowed at the concert?
Copyright regulations apply to the choreography and music used in all dance concerts. Licences are required from AMCOS to film a performance if music accompanying the performance will also be recorded. Video production companies and I are required to have this licence; however, individuals usually do not. Fines are attached to breaches.
The other concern these days is of course for the protection and safety of our children. By allowing anyone to video a performance of young dancers, it is essential to know how and what is recorded and where that material is distributed. By allowing anyone to bring a camera to record our students, I could not guarantee how the material would be presented.
Are parents allowed to watch the classes?
As a general rule, no. However, there are always exceptions. A new enrolment is always welcome to have their parents sit in on the first class, but as the classroom is a teaching space, too many distractions and authority figures in the one space can be quite a distraction for many of the students. The classroom is also a safe space for students to experiment and make mistakes without feeling embarrassed, and as such, many prefer to do this in private.
Watching week is the last week of each term and for that week, all classes are open to all parents and other visitors. Students are asked to invite their parents, and are then prepared and excited to demonstrate what they have learned.
Please be aware that this is still a teaching space, that the teacher’s directions need to be followed and parents are requested not to talk with other parents in the classroom or to use their mobile phones.