There are so many different styles of dance out there it can be hard and confusing for any parent to choose which class to start their child in.
The type, style or discipline of dance your child should begin learning is ballet. If your child finds ballet boring or too disciplined then starting a class in jazz, hip hop or tap is also fine, but if dance becomes more than a hobby they will need to work on their strength and flexibility as well as develop pleasing aesthetic lines, all of which a good foundation in ballet will provide.
Many parents will just choose a beginner dance class for their child dependent on availability, location, time or cost. But if your school of choice offers a selection of classes, why start with ballet?
Why is ballet the best type of Dance for children to begin learning?
Ballet creates the foundation for aesthetically pleasing movement. It teaches kids how to point their toes in a way that looks nice to the eye, use their arms gracefully whilst building strength, develop flexibility, increase balance and strengthen their core muscles which are useful in the practice of all other types of dancing.
My child wants to learn hip hop or tap and not ballet, is this ok?
It is absolutely ok for your child to learn another style of dance in the beginning if ballet is not their thing. It is important that your child is interested in what they are learning so that they are motivated to improve. Therefore if they love dancing to popular music a hip hop or jazz class might be more beneficial for them to develop their love of dance first. But if dance becomes more than just a hobby, and your child wants to improve even in their preferred style of dance, they should be doing ballet lessons to build a strong foundation of technique, strength, and flexibility to enhance their dancing in that style.
Our local school just offers a movement class is this ok?
Yes, a local movement class is great to begin with if it is the most convenient and price efficient option for you at the time. A movement lesson will introduce your child to dance and musicality, creativity, and enjoyment, but if your child becomes serious about wanting to be a dancer, you will need to begin more formal training lessons to help them achieve that.
What age is best to start dance lessons?
The best age to start lessons is when a child shows interest in learning to dance. This is different to a child who moves and dances at any sound reminiscent of music or who loves to dance to their own beat. They need to want to learn the steps that someone is teaching them and not just enjoy making up their own dances and flitting around the room endlessly saying watch me, watch me! It should also be said that your child should be able to use the toilet with little assistance, have a good attention span, be able to follow a series of instructions and be confident enough to be without their carer for at least an hour of time.
How much should kids dance lessons cost?
Most schools charge you on a monthly basis for dance lessons and you should expect to pay between $30 to $50 per month for one lesson a week depending on your location, demand for a place at the school and experience of the teacher. Discounts are usually given as you add on more lessons with some schools having a capped price for attending unlimited lessons.
Please remember that when starting at a dance school you are usually not just signing up for lessons but also for an annual recital which will incur costuming and other fees which costs you can read about in out article the real costs of dance. Most schools also charge a registration or administration fee when you enrol.
What should kids wear to dance lessons?
Your school will probably have a set uniform but generally, you will want to try a class before you commit to paying for lessons or a uniform. In this case, try any of the following options:
FOR A FIRST BALLET, JAZZ, ACRO DANCE, TAP or SIMILAR LESSON
- Leggings and a singlet top or t’shirt.
- Shorts or bike shorts and a singlet top or t’shirt.
- A leotard with leggings (so they can be barefoot)
- A leotard with tights and soft soled shoes.
- tracksuit pants and a singlet top or t’shirt
- yoga pants and a singlet top or t’shirt
FOR A HIP HOP or SIMILAR LESSON
- Clothing for a hip hop lesson can be loose fitting street clothes that are easy to move in.
You should try and keep away from long flowing dresses or clothes that are too baggy as this can inhibit your child’s movement if they keep getting caught or tangled in their clothes. You should also consider easy to remove layers rather than heavy or warm clothing as your child will be active and will naturally get hot from moving.
SHOE OPTIONS FOR A FIRST DANCE CLASS:
- Ballet: Ballet slippers if you have a pair in either leather or canvas. Otherwise rare feet or a very soft soled shoe (preferably not a jiffy as these are actually very slippery to dance in).
- Tap Dance – tap shoes or a hard soled shoe to help make noise when tapped on the floor.
- Jazz Dance: Leather jazz shoes if you have a pair. Otherwise bare feet, or a soft soled shoe or even joggers, runners or trainers.
- Hip Hop: Joggers, runners or trainers.
- Acro Dance: Bare feet
Is dance good for toddlers?
Dancing is great for toddlers as it helps develop gross motor skills, musicality, creativity and is a good way for toddlers to exert extra pent up energy. Toddlers love to explore what their bodies are capable of and a dance lesson specifically catering for toddlers such as a mommy and me lesson or a movement and music class are perfect for them.
Some more structured methods of teaching Ballet, like the RAD for example offer lessons for children from around the age of 2.5. Although these lessons are creative movement based they are grounded in developing foundations in ballet and therefore are a great option if considering enrolling your child in dance lessons at such an early age.
Which method of ballet or classical form is best to begin learning?
There are many methods of ballet that are taught, but if your school teaches any of the most popular methods such as RAD, Cecchetti or Vaganova or teaches through a syllabus or system you should be in capable hands.
In the beginning, the method of ballet taught really is not as important as the person teaching it. This is because your teacher is responsible for the dance education of your child. They need to enjoy teaching kids, using a demeanor, material, and steps that hold children’s attention whilst at the same time ensuring your child is learning the basics of ballet which are the same whichever method you study. If your child does not like their teacher, they will not enjoy their dance lessons and will want to quit before they have really even started.
What other types of dance are there to learn?
Apart from ballet, your school might offer any of the following lessons for your child to participate in. If there seems like too many options and you are worried about how many classes your child should be taking you can read our related article by clicking on the link or if you are wondering how many lessons it takes to have a career in ballet follow that link.
Wondering what each style is exactly? You can find a definition of each of these on our site here.
- Hip Hop
- Acro Dance
- Zumba Fitness
- Musical Theatre or Broadway
- Song and Dance
- Folk or Character Dance
- Popping or Krumping