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.
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.
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.
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.