I can attest there is almost nothing cuter than a gaggle of preschool ballerinas in pink tights and tutus. There is also something very intimidating about walking into a dance studio for the first time with your ragamuffin preschooler surrounded by older and bigger students and parents who seem to just know what they are supposed to be doing and look great doing it. Never fear, as always Little Lake County is here to help! We are starting our second year with the Dance Academy of Libertyville and now that I am a “pro” at this Dance-Mom thing I am here to help you prepare for your first day of preschool ballet class.
This is a good rule of thumb for any class but it’s particularly important for your first dance class. Your little ballerina will likely get distracted by all the BIG ballerinas and you want time to get settled, get shoes on it.
The number one rule is; always, ALWAYS, go to the bathroom before class. No questions, no debating, no forgetting. Preschool classes are short, 30 minutes. If one girl leaves to go to the bathroom that sets off a chain reaction and the teacher spends the entire class bringing kids out to their parents instead of teaching.
Every school has a slightly different dress code. At Dance Academy of Libertyville each level has a color coordinated dress code. Preschool (2 Much Fun and Pre-Academy) are light pink leotards, pink tights, pink shoes and a bun.
Why no tutus?
Tutus are adorable, preschoolers love them! They are also distracting. The girls play with them and look at each others instead of looking at the teacher. They also make it harder for the student and teacher to see if the student is in the right position. Don’t worry the class is still cute without them! It also makes their recital tutus, and the photos/practice with them that much more special.
Where do you get the clothing?
For preschoolers you can get the leotards lots of places. We have picked up leotards at Target and Green Kids Resale and have also been gifted them from friends. There are a few Dance Shops in the Area:
Dance ‘N Tees
109 E Cook Ave, Libertyville
Allegro Dance Boutique
104 S. Cook Street, Barrington
You can also find shoes at some Payless stores. Most studios will also sell some select merchandise.
If you have a preschooler/toddler you probably only need one, maybe two leotards but you will need at least half a dozen pairs of tights.
Some months we went through a pair a week. Honestly they were the hardest to find! Target and most other locales only sold them in a pack with other colors. So I would get a 3 pack that only had 1 pink pair! Amazon to the rescue! These were the only multiple pack of pink tights I could find for less than an arm and a leg.
Mastering the Ballet Bun
The neat ballet bun is the holy grail for first time dance moms! It seems no matter what you do there are hairs flying out and sticking every which way making it look more like a hedgehog than a bun. Or worse, it falls around and flops through the whole class. Here are the tips that I got at our first class:
- Put it in a ponytail first, high up on the head.
- Twist and twist and twist on itself and then around the base.
- Cover with a hairnet and secure with a second rubber-band
The secret is the hairnet! You can get them at most drugstores, but if you have a little one you will need to double it up to cover their hair. My tip, if you get an American Girl Doll or other large doll that comes with a hairnet in the packaging, SAVE IT! We use the dolls hairnet and it works like a charm!
Another trick, baby socks:
I used an old baby sock to make a tiny sock bun. This makes buns faster, easier, neater and way sturdier on my short haired wild child. I still secure with a hairnet and second rubber-band.
Why can’t You Watch?
Parents are asked to wait outside for class so they are not a distraction. Anyone who has volunteered in their preschoolers classroom knows that the children will behave different around you. Dance Academy of Libertyville has an observation week each semester including a full dress rehearsal in class for recital. You can peek through the windows during class and if your child has major separation issues the teachers will work with you and your child to get through it.
What to Expect in Class
Expect your child to occasionally be staring at herself in the mirror instead of the teacher.
Expect your child to jump and leap around in her spot when she’s supposed to be doing pliés.
Expect her to loudly talk about something completely unrelated or run up and hug the teacher.
Don’t panic, and don’t pull them out of the class!
The basis for the pre-academy classes is fun. The children will learn through games and movement. What might seem like running around and not real dancing to an adult is fundamental to a preschoolers learning. And they are learning! My daughter knows her positions, she knows several of the correct French words, and at 3.5 years old she stood up on a stage in a large auditorium in front of hundreds of people and she pliéd and turned and bowed and it was adorable.
The pre-academy teachers are professionals. They will re-direct and gently guide your students back to the class. If there is a problem they will come to you after class and let you know. Let the teachers do their job and you will be surprised at what they learn!
What about Boys?
Obviously my experience is with girls and I am speaking from experience but Boys are always welcome to take classes too! Their dress code is a little different, black tights/shorts and white shirt/socks and black shoes. They obviously don’t need a bun, but everything else would apply!
In fact this September your school age boys (8 and older) can try a dance class for FREE!
Dance Academy of Libertyville is still accepting Fall registration (although some classes are full!). Classes start on September 9.
746 E. Park Ave. (Rte 176), Libertyville | 847-247-1327 | [email protected]
Disclosure: Dance Academy of Libertyville is a Little Lake County paid advertising partner. All thoughts and opinions on the classes are my own, no classes were received in exchange for this story.