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A Peek at Preschool Dance

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    By: Dawn Juntilla

    It seems that most little girls dream of being ballet dancers.  Or is it that their parents just can’t resist the temptation to dress them up in sparkly, pink leotards and ballet shoes?  Either way, toddler and preschool dance classes don’t struggle with attendance. 

    When my daughter was four, I enrolled her in dance class through a local community education program.  I figured community education was a good starting place. After all, I didn’t know if she would enjoy it and I didn’t want to take the leap and enroll her in a more expensive and longer term dance studio class. 

    Unfortunately, I discovered early on that the community education route had its disadvantages.  First of all, the facilities are not very conducive to parent observation.  Who knows, maybe this is a good thing for a child, but as a parent I wanted to be able to see what was going on in there.

    Secondly, the instructor seemed to be experienced in the art of dance, but not so familiar with the typical four-year-old child’s patience threshold. She didn’t understand their need for constant movement and focused far too much on proper form. In short, it wasn’t much fun for my dance-loving daughter. She didn’t even want to go to class.

    That said, we took a hiatus from dance for a few months later.  Then, The Little Gym, where my daughter had attended gymnastics class in the past, started offering dance class. Actually, it was a combination of dance and gymnastics. It sounded perfect for preschoolers who need more activity than a plie and the repeated shuffle-step. They offered a free trial class and after having a wonderful experience, we signed up on the spot.

    The teachers may not have been not skilled dancers, but they were well-seasoned in the art of making dance fun. The kids practiced their steps each week. Unbeknownst to them, they were learning a routine. The end of the season recital was a showcase of their new skills and even the grandparents were able to attend. 

    To be quite frank, their smiling faces were more polished than their dancing. But more importantly, my mission was accomplished. My daughter had fun, regained her enjoyment of dance and got to emulate a ballerina for a night. Time will tell if she has a strong enough interest to dedicate more time and attention to it.

    Since my personal dance experience, I have noticed many dance studios have started to offer Creative Movement classes that appear more focused on fun and do not run for nine months.  I think that is a great option for parents with younger children and I highly recommend taking advantage of free trials if they are offered!

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