So, your child shows the potential to be the next best dancer. They respond well to music and rhythm and you dream of them attending Moscow State Academy or The Royal Ballet in London. You want to encourage their poise and posture, but how? Discover 7 ways you can do ballet with your child.
Children are usually incredibly supple. Since flexibility starts to fade as we grow, it is vital to teach your child how to stretch their body, safely, at an early age.
● Toe Touches: Toe touches are a simple stretch that gently stretches the hamstrings. Demonstrate sitting on the floor and reaching for your toes. It is vital to encourage straight knees to prevent injury. Try not to act too surprised when your little one folds in half!
● Straddle Splits: This stretch is practiced by sitting straight up, with the legs opened wide apart. It is a pose that offers excellent benefits for the body by opening the inner thigh muscles, strengthening the core and the gluteus muscles. Demonstrate reaching to the right then the left and then the centre. Encourage your child to maintain straight knees.
● Leg Extensions: Achieving the dancer desired leg extension requires two things: strength and flexibility. It is not uncommon for dancers to get frustrated with poor leg extensions, so encouraging them from an early age to get into practice is a great start. Show your child how to lay on one side and hold one leg up in the air. Encourage them to maintain straight knees and pointed toes. Always ensure when they complete an exercise on one leg, that they switch over and do the other!
The five basic positions of ballet are the core element of the dance. Your child may have mastered first and second, but how are they with third, fourth and fifth? Grab a chair, your little one with need this now!
● First Position: Encourage your child to have their heels together and their toes
● Second Position: A good way to perfect the second position is to start in first, then encourage them to slide the feet apart. Ensure they maintain the same rotation and turn out.
● Third Position: Third can be perfected from second position. Slide one foot towards the other so the heel of the front foot makes contact with the arch of the back foot.
● Fourth Position: Similar to third but encourage them to slide their forward foot
further away. The feet should be around one foot in distance.
● Fifth Position: Now, fifth position is a little more demanding. It is a similar to position to fourth, however both feet make contact. Once they’re in contact, orientate the toes of the front foot to try and make contact with the heel of the other foot!
Most dance schools will offer a Parent and Tots style class. These are usually aimed at children aged 3-5. Young children are likely to experience upset and anxiety when separated from their parents so these classes encourage a healthy transition into the dance educational setting. These classes offer the first steps into dance and core classroom behaviour. The classes will provide valuable skills that are essential for dance including listening, taking instructions, turn-taking, following direction and sequential order. The basic dance activities will also explore their gross motor development skills and build upon their rhythm and timings.
The physical demands placed on the bodies in dance can make dancers susceptible to injury. Teach and encourage the importance of preventing injuries whilst they are still young. After all, prevention is better than sitting on the chair watching everybody else dance whilst they recuperate!
Encourage children to be mindful of the following:
Here’s one we can all appreciate. Your child is working hard stretching and building upon their skills. But, don’t forget the importance of relaxation. Regular massages and physiotherapy are recommended to prevent and manage injury.
Nothing is better than sharing a passion with your child. There is a real bond and connection when you have a common interest. Why not take an adult only class and brush up on your barre work? Perhaps you took ballet when you were younger and lost the spark, or maybe you’re a first timer. As long as you’re having fun, it doesn’t matter! The special bond you will gain, the quality time together at the dance school and the understanding you will share between one another is priceless. Speaking of prices, if you’re lucky, your dance school may even offer family discounts which might just save you a little on the monthly tuition fees!
So, you’re little one is in love with dance and every waking moment they seem to be filled with energy. Music and rhythm is instilled in them and they just want to move! Embrace it. Encourage your child to practice at home. Praise them.
Ballet can be incredibly rewarding and offers so many benefits. However, remember that your child will decide for themselves if it is an activity they want to continue to pursue. Encourage your child, however ensure you do not pressure them into continuing something they do not enjoy.