Dancenter North is a paid advertising partner of Little Lake County.
Editor’s Note: Dancenter North moved to Gurnee in 2019, studio images are from previous location.
Do you have a young child who loves to dance around the house but you are worried they are too young for an organized dance class? Nerves, separation anxiety, or fears of that very first class can all make a child (or parent!) nervous, shy, or reluctant to try.
The early childhood dance program at Dancenter North is organized and planned to help all children (no matter what their level) grow together, learn together, and ultimately perform together. While dance is a classic art form that takes skill and practice, it is also an innate quality of human expression and one that children instinctively use starting at a young age to express their emotions. Just watch a child’s excitement upon meeting a favorite character in person, and you will see how they move and jump and dance around with excitement and happiness.
Early childhood dance programs, like the one at Dancenter North, takes the children’s instinctual desire to move and teaches them how to control and harness it to become dance. The skills learned help them grow not just as dancers, but in life, and in future schooling. A once weekly early education dance class can be the perfect transition into a more traditional preschool environment.
Whether a child is brand new to organized classes and dance, or has a full schedule once they walk into the classroom, he or she becomes a part of a group of children moving together. I sat in on one of Dancenter North’s kinder ballet classes to see how they prepare for their end of the year program. As a parent of four, one who has danced since she was three, I have seen every variety of early education enrichment classes. Dance has a way of taking a group of rambunctious preschoolers and teaching them how to move their bodies and focus in ways that I haven’t seen in many other classes. Skills that are taught are not only imperative for the foundations of dance, but life skills that they will take with them into their formal educations and use for the rest of their life.
What kind of life skills are preschoolers learning in dance you might ask? Let’s take a look:
- Spatial Awareness — any parent will tell you that children don’t seem to understand personal space. Dance teaches, and fairly quickly, about the space around them as well as how their body fits into the world. From having room to move their arms to finding the right spots on the floor, children learn how to fit into their space in a graceful and polite manner.
- Taking Turns — a skill that matters in life but one that is so hard for small children to grasp. In dance class, like in life, students will have to wait their turn to cross the floor or show off their moves. Which leads to…
- Standing in line — you may not notice that this truly is an important skill to have until you wait in line at the post office with someone who hasn’t yet mastered this skill. Learning how to stand in line and wait without getting distracted, frustrated or causing a scene is a skill that honestly more people need to hone.
- Active Listening — we all have that friend (or in my case, a teen child) who looks like they are listening, nods, says uh-huh and then when tasked to do what you were discussing responds with “wait, what?” There is a lot of listening and waiting in dance. Dancers are expected to listen to the instructions, wait their turn, and then complete the instructions. This is a life skill that will lead to success in school and more.
- Care in appearance — parents often question why children in “fun” ballet classes can’t wear whatever fun dress-up tutu or leotard they wish. It’s all part of not just in teaching the artistic side of dance, but in teaching children to focus on the movement and not on their clothes.
The repetitive nature of an early childhood dance program reinforces what children learn every week as they gain skills and confidence. At the end of the session, you will see a very different group of children in class than you did during the first week, as they have learned to both control their bodies and have honed their listening skills.
You might think, that’s all fine and well, but I’ve seen Dance Moms and I am just not ready to deal with all of the glitter and pressure. Great! Neither are the teachers at Dancenter North! The children in the early childhood classes don’t compete and do not have a huge recital with over the top costumes and make-up. At the end of the dance year (end of May), all students in the early education classes (as well as pre-ballet and graduating eighth graders) perform a Défilé.
Défilé, the French word for parade, borrowed from the Paris Opera Ballet School that performs one each year at the end of their season. The Dancenter North Défilé is a “concert-graduation” and gives students the opportunity to perform on stage in a comfortable atmosphere without the pressure of hours of rehearsals. Costuming is simple. A ballet dancer, for example, needs to only purchase a tutu based on their skill level. Pricing is kept affordable so that everyone can participate without the stress of finding additional funds (this past year it was $27). Early childhood performances are held in the early afternoon, as opposed to an evening performance, and rehearsal takes place right before the performance.
This is the kinder ballet performance from this past year as seen during parent watch week while I visited.
You can see that then children have learned to work together and control their movements, and both they and their parents couldn’t be more proud.
Dancenter North offers early education classes in ballet, tap and hip-hop. Registration for fall has just begun, so check the website and find the perfect class to grow your tiny dancer.
Dancenter North is a paid advertising partner with Little Lake County. All thoughts and opinions are the writer’s own. Interested in seeing your business featured? Contact our team!