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Imaginative Kid's Dance Classes in Oxfordshire - Discover, Create, Love Dance!
Ballet Dropout?

Let’s get one thing straight. We love ballet. But there is a side which I am impassioned about and feel requires airing. So let’s get started.

The Good

There is plenty right about ballet. It offers the most biomechanically sophisticated structure of dance-based movement and education, and personally we love it as an art form. The level of control and precision it trains into the body is second to none. It requires discipline, control and focus – all things that are good for children to understand and practice.

Thank goodness for ballet – without which we wouldn’t have the art that we are so fortunate to witness, whether ballet, contemporary, musical theatre or any other art form it touches. For me it is unrivalled, with maybe Argentine Tango coming in a close second.

In fact here at Betty Bloom Dance we teach ballet as part of our older performance squad classes – it offers unrivalled training, improving their dance to a much higher level, and particularly important if they have their sights set on professional goals.

But is it necessarily the perfect start to introduce self-expression, engagement and the joy of movement to music to youngsters, which is really what dance should be about? Maybe for some.

The Bad

Many children find it hard to engage with the music and conform naturally to the levels of control, focus and discipline it requires. This was the sad case with my own children and a great many of our own students we currently teach. They left as the classes were not engaging, non-inclusive and they felt their efforts were not valued.

The Ugly

There is a pyramid effect in ballet where those that can focus, learn control, be highly disciplined, and more importantly show true talent, will thrive in this environment.

However the less desirable effect is that those who struggle will drop out, some feeling they are “no good at dance” and for us this is absolutely heartbreaking. (And don’t let’s even get started on body image – particularly for children at a very delicate age in their lives.)

A More Balanced Approach ...

Here at Betty Bloom Dance we provide an alternative, a different pathway. We are all about inclusion, creating confidence and joy in class. Yes we teach focus, control and discipline but balance this with fun, engagement and self-expression. Our students are taught that no matter what stage they have reached in their learning of this beautiful skill, the dance is always inside them.

Children should never leave dance classes because they feel they are “not good enough”. We’ll take any and all ballet dropouts and show them that not only can they dance well, but that it’s one of THE most beautiful and exhilarating form of self-expression in life, and it's only ever a heart-beat away.

One of our maxims is that everyone can dance.

Some have a natural talent and it boosts them up a few pegs for a while. Others just take a while to work out their coordination and where their feet are. You’ll see some children improving at a rate of knots and others that are bobbing along at their own pace. There is never a need to be concerned – everyone gets there eventually – if they want to.

Importantly, those that don’t want to get “there” should be allowed to just enjoy coming to class to dance, and not made to feel that they have to conform to a standard. They can find their own individual dance style and still benefit from all that dance has to offer – mental and physical learning challenges, the joy of movement to music, dancing with their friends, freeing up their mind, keeping active and supple and improving coordination and focus.

For those that are driven by competition, and are keen on excelling, we bring competitive challenges into the classroom but always in a way that the non-competitive individuals are not made to feel awkward if they do decide to take part in the challenges; alternatively they join in without participating in the challenge.

Confidence and enjoyment in a stress free environment is so important at our classes, and a catalyst for engagement and learning. There’s a place for everyone here at Betty Bloom Dance without any judgement.

Our Violet classes are for pre-schoolers! Full of fun and energy, these classes are not only entertaining for children but often an opportunity for parents or grandparents to spend some quality time with their little ones, doing a physical activity that isn’t weather dependent. But in reality, the classes have a method to their frivolity and offer children so much more than just a fun activity.

“The Violet classes were honestly an after-thought. Our classes for 4 years and older were going swimmingly well and parents were starting to ask for toddler level classes. We had absolutely no idea how much they would be loved by both little ones and their parents” says Kally Peigne, found of Betty Bloom Dance

So we started organically, realising attention spans were going to be very short indeed! Developing a lesson plan that maintains interest and attention is all very well, but we also delved into the National pre-school curriculum as well as obtaining information in toddler development psychology. These vital attributes were wrapped in sugar (figuratively) and been integrated into our toddler classes!

Therefore as well as a lot of fun and exercise, the skills can be categorised into the following areas: an introduction to structured learning,; physical development skills; mental, emotional and social skills.

In effect, the children learn the following:

- Structure and very early form of discipline so that the little ones learn to recognise and learn to take part in an organised activity

- Listening and understanding instructions from a teacher, ie someone who is not a parent

- To build on skills of body isolations and coordination of individual body parts, ie arm, leg, hand, shoulder, knee movements

- Understanding musicality, listening to and moving with the music, and being able to coordinate ourselves to the rhythm of the music

- Expression work - to recognise and understand different expressions in a fun, safe and relaxed environment

- The ability to use a prop to enhance coordination and build a further complex layer of ability

- To voluntarily coordinate the use of two or three different physical actions at the same time, eg arms, legs and faces

- To be able to sit in a social environment and take turns, be respectful of others, and learn to enjoy group focused activities

- Prepping for more organised and formal dance lessons later

On a final note – it was VITAL that we included parents in these classes! Not only do we LOVE having parents dance along with us but we could not think of a better, relaxed, informal and fun way to introduce dance to a small child.

Parents and toddlers – we welcome you to experience our classes!

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