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#1 Lickety Split

Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:41 AM

I never did dance as a child. My DD will be 3 in a couple of months and LOVES dancing and singing. I noticed there are a few places that offer tiny tots dance classes to 3 year olds and am wondering if I should enrol her. But not knowing anything about being a "dance mum" I have a few questions!

Firstly, how structured are the classes for littlies? I seriously doubt DD has the patience to sit still for very long or do things to an exact standard. She just wants to dance and have fun with other little kids and learn some fun moves.

Also, how big of a commitment is it? I'm guessing not much at this stage but if she wants to stick with it, will I end up driving all over the place every weekend and spending a fortune on costumes when she's older?

Thirdly, I am a bit worried about my daughter wearing makeup and skimpy clothes. Is that the norm when they start doing "proper" dance or just a stereotype?

Thanks  original.gif

#2 dancesthroughlife

Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:54 AM

I'm not a dance mum, (my son is 2 and a half, maybe soon if he wants to!) but I have danced my entire life, teaching dance for 8 years and now also have my own school so I have plenty of experience in the dance world.

Firstly, you really need to do your research and choose a school that is going to suit you. For a lot of the questions you raise, it really depends on what school you are at and the kind kind of school. For example if you choose a school that is heavily involved in competitions, then yes as she gets older you will be driving her lots of places all the time, and have lots of expensive costumes to pay for. However there are lots of good schools out there that don't do competitions, so the main commitment is the weekly classes. Most schools will do an end of year concert so you have that commitment too, but again depending on the school on how many extra rehearsals they will do. I keep my rehearsals to a minimum, and only have the younger ones there when they really need to be. With costumes, if you find a school that just hires them out to you, rather then you purchasing them it will be a heap cheaper.

Once again, with makeup and skimpy costumes it depends on the school! There are some schools that pack the makeup on the littlies and sometimes inappropriate costumes, but on the other hand there are schools that will only put the very minimal makeup (purely so their features can be seen under the harsh lights on the stage) and suitable age appropriate costumes.

I would recommend to start your research now, if you want to start at the beginning of next year. Have a look at websites, look at their photo galleries, you can generally get a feel for what kind of school it is by that. Also ask around, are there any parents you know if in your local area with kids at dance schools, they could tell you from experience what to expect at that particular school. Also make sure the teachers have teaching qualifications, not just dance experience, a fantastic dancer does not always make them a fantastic teacher. A lot can go wrong if the teacher isn't properly educated!

Good luck! Putting me in dance lessons was the best gift my mum ever gave me, even before I decided to go into teaching, it was always a huge part of my life and gave me an outlet growing up when 'real life' was stressing me out! Sorry for the long post!

#3 dancesthroughlife

Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:58 AM

Oh and one more thing to answer your question about your daughters patience, and standard, in a good 3 year old class, the main objectives should be learning how to be in a class (listening, taking turns, staying with the group etc), and building on their imagination and creativity to develop musicality and co-ordination. It's all about building up the blocks so when they are old enough to learn correct technique, they already have all these skills and will be a more rounded, expressive and musical dancer. Hope that makes sense!

#4 emlis22

Posted 30 November 2012 - 11:02 AM

Like PP said, I think you need to think about what kind of class you want her to be in. There will be the structured, competitive schools that perhaps attract what you might class as a 'dance mum' mentality.

But there are also schools that offer non-technical classes, that don't do comps (but might do a Christmas concert) and it's more just 'come and have a go', as opposed to learning dance in a strictly technical environment. My SIL runs one of these schools and MIL makes all the costumes. They're all 'fun' costumes, and not skimpy at all.

#5 Lagom

Posted 30 November 2012 - 11:15 AM

QUOTE (emlis22 @ 30/11/2012, 12:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Like PP said, I think you need to think about what kind of class you want her to be in. There will be the structured, competitive schools that perhaps attract what you might class as a 'dance mum' mentality.

But there are also schools that offer non-technical classes, that don't do comps (but might do a Christmas concert) and it's more just 'come and have a go', as opposed to learning dance in a strictly technical environment. My SIL runs one of these schools and MIL makes all the costumes. They're all 'fun' costumes, and not skimpy at all.


And then there are schools that do technical classes that don't do comps and only have an end of year concert.   original.gif DD does classical ballet so there are no skimpy outfits and make up is pretty tame and is only used so you can see their features under the lights.  
In regards to costumes we paid $70 this year.  
Some of the older girls at DD's school do exams or VCE dance but it's not compulsory.
Any sport you choose is going to have training/practice a few times a week as the kids get older. Kids who play tennis or footy also end up driving all around the countryside so as far as I can see ballet seems pretty tame.  happy.gif


#6 sophiasmum

Posted 30 November 2012 - 11:31 AM

We started dance this year with DD2 who was 3 & 1/2 at the time & DD1 who was nearly 9 at the time.

With the tiny tots, they make it very fun & general & they basically flitted around the hall being butterflies & fairies every week, with the last 10 mins in tap shoes (they provide or you can buy your own - we bought 2nd hand ballet shoes). At the start of this term they started to learn the routine for the concert.

Even for the concert, they had older ones up on stage with them to copy off & hold their hands when they had to skip around the stage.

The costumes were not skimpy at all, they were little green dresses with sparkly sequins all over & a matching headband. They cost $75 (each).

Yes they did wear makeup, but it could be as much or as little as the parent wanted.

We will continue next year & she will probably move up to the preschool group. My older DD has been doing hip hop & drama classes but will drop drama next year because she wants to take up contemporary. I guess it can get a little addictive, but I believe it's up to the parent to say yes or no & do as much as you can all handle.

DD2 does tiny tots on Friday mornings, & DD1 does her classes on Saturdays.

#7 cira

Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:10 AM

Can I semi-hijack this thread - if we opt for a just have fun dance class will our DD be able to switch to classical ballet when she is older? How old are most girls when they enter "real" ballet classes?

(I have no dance background at all but daughter insists she wants to be a ballerina!)

#8 Expelliarmus

Posted 01 December 2012 - 12:45 AM

QUOTE (cira @ 01/12/2012, 01:10 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can I semi-hijack this thread - if we opt for a just have fun dance class will our DD be able to switch to classical ballet when she is older? How old are most girls when they enter "real" ballet classes?

(I have no dance background at all but daughter insists she wants to be a ballerina!)

DD2 started 'real ballet' at 10, in Classical Grade 2. If she started it in 'Primary Classical' she would have been 8 but it wasn't available at her academy at that time. They have since secured a teacher and she is doing her Grade 2 exam next week. DD2 did fun dance class from 3 yo until 6 when she started to also do Tap exam class. She began Jazz exam class. At 8.5.

Basically they can just do the one our fun class but she has elected to do the extra training and do exams. Many girls do the concert class only.

Edited by howdo, 01 December 2012 - 12:46 AM.


#9 barrington

Posted 01 December 2012 - 05:13 AM

QUOTE (cira @ 01/12/2012, 12:10 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can I semi-hijack this thread - if we opt for a just have fun dance class will our DD be able to switch to classical ballet when she is older? How old are most girls when they enter "real" ballet classes?

The RAD are quite strict about what age you can start exams for ballet.  DD1 is 7 next year, and it is the earliest that she will be able to do the primary exam.  We've found that starting DD1 at 5 turning 6 has been the perfect age for ballet, although she started dancing (mostly jazz) at 3.



#10 dancesthroughlife

Posted 01 December 2012 - 07:15 AM

QUOTE (cira @ 01/12/2012, 01:10 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can I semi-hijack this thread - if we opt for a just have fun dance class will our DD be able to switch to classical ballet when she is older? How old are most girls when they enter "real" ballet classes?

(I have no dance background at all but daughter insists she wants to be a ballerina!)


To be honest I would say if you think she may want to take it more seriously as she gets older, you're better off going with a good school (not necessarily a comp school) from the start. They will still have "fun" pre ballet classes, and will start "real" ballet when they are at the right age (usually around 8). The benefits of this would be
1. She is getting the correct training right from the start. With a good teacher they can still have fun and be imaginative while getting good foundations. If she starts at a "just for fun" school you run the risk of her being improperly trained, and develop bad habits that she will need to fix when she changes schools (very hard!) It can also lead to injury!
2. She will be with the same peer group all the way through, an feel more at home at the studio. (dance schools can often feel like a big family!)

If you send her to the good school from the start, if she still wants to be a ballerina when she's older you know you've given her the best start and right training. If she changes her mind, no harm done original.gif

#11 SeaPrincess

Posted 01 December 2012 - 09:26 AM

QUOTE (dancesthroughlife @ 30/11/2012, 08:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Firstly, you really need to do your research and choose a school that is going to suit you.

I totally agree with this.  DD asked me if she could do ballet before she was 3, so I started looking around.  I didn't want a school that only did ballet, so that ruled out a few of the local schools immediately.  We ended up going and looking at 2.  The first one did a 45-minute lesson that included a bit of singing, ballet and tap each week.  They wanted us to buy their own uniform, ballet and tap shoes for weekly classes. I never got as far as asking about concerts because when the tap shoes came out, DD put her hands over her years and said "I just want to do ballet!".

The second one listed black uniform for all their classes, so even if DD does another class later, its the same uniform for everything. They had told me on the phone that for DD's age group, I should just bring her in a fairy dress.  She loved it, so that's where we are. We go on a Saturday and her class is little - usually only 6 girls, and they all do wear uniform, but mostly just the Target school wear range.  DS1 is doing a hip-hop/jazz class at the same time and he's loving it too.
ETA: DD's class do some warm-up stretching/exercises, some plies and stuff, flit around on tippy toes pretending to be different things each week, then do a few curtsies to finish.  We've found DD practising her curtsies in the playroom and she tippy toes all over the place.

This year there were 2 concerts, one for the juniors (up to 11/12 yo) and one for the seniors.  The youngest classes in the junior concert were the 5-6yos, so DD wasn't involved, but she loved it.  We had a concert levy and costume levy ($30 each), so the concert wasn't too expensive.  There was only one rehearsal at the venue, on the day of the concert, the rest were in normal class times and the concert was on a Saturday starting at 5pm, so not a late night for the little ones either.  They did wear make-up, but it was very simple and the costumes were age-appropriate.   I love that even though there are over 900 students in total, our school hasn't forgotten that these are little children.

If you've got friends with older children, ask around, otherwise phone around or look for dancing school websites.  I got a lot of information from websites before calling any of the schools

Edited by SeaPrincess, 01 December 2012 - 09:34 AM.





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