In my interactions with a lot of parents who meet me while deciding to put their children in dance class, I have received countless questions on how they (parents) should go about choosing the right dance and class for their little ones.
Some parents are worried whether their child’s age is ripe for learning dance. Then there are others who ask about the best dance forms. And then there are some who question the relevance of dance in a child’s life.
While I will try and gradually answer all those questions on this blog, here are my answers to the five most asked questions.
Q1. What is the right age to start training in dance?
There is a school of thought that believes a baby responds to music even in the womb, with movement. After birth, the response is even more obvious and music brings a definite and more profound reaction in the child’s movement. Then, as the child’s motor skills develop, the movement becomes more defined.
However, in my experience of teaching toddlers, I have learned that a child aged 3 years is just about ready for a structured dance class. At this age, he/she is able to understand and follow instructions and will also find it easier to settle into a new class environment (with less separation anxiety).
Even at age 3, a child struggles with simple moves like jumping, hopping and changing direction. But early exposure leads to a greater ability to understand one’s body and how it moves and enhances motor skills.
Q2. Which is a better dance form- Indian or western?
Any dance form, if learned systematically and in depth, produces similar results. What is more important is the quality of teachers and training and the child’s interest. If a child learns any one dance form thoroughly, he or she will be able to adapt to other dance forms with greater ease.
Q3. How long does a child take to learn a dance form?
As the old saying goes, “Practice makes a man perfect.” This is also true in the case of dance training. Learning a dance genre has many similarities to academic and athletic training. Skills must be built incrementally – just like more time you devote to studying, the higher the level of learning.
For instance, if a child devotes only one hour per week to learning maths, it will take far longer to get the desired outcome than if the child devotes one hour every day to study the same. Children with natural aptitude for mathematics will also achieve a higher level of skill faster if they put in the work. And no child, no matter how great the natural aptitude and talent, can master long division until they have mastered addition, subtraction, and multiplication.
The same holds true for dance. You must start at the beginning, attend classes faithfully, and work to master the skills as they are introduced. Each skill builds muscle memory and the proper bodily strength to take a student to the next, more difficult dance movement. This is a constant process over a number of years.
Q4. Will my child get confused if two different dance forms are introduced simultaneously?
Confusion might be an initial issue. But in the long run, the child will have a deeper understanding of his/her body and how it moves. So it is absolutely fine to learn two dance forms simultaneously. The child will soon discover that there is no right or wrong way to move – there are just different ways to move. Having said that, focusing on one dance form for a longer period definitely brings great results.
Q5. What are the advantages of learning dance over other physical, extracurricular activities?
The focus of dance is on creativity and not on winning or losing. It involves using both sides of the brain – one half for balance, co-ordination and technique and the other half for creativity. It encourages a child to express emotions freely through his/her body and makes him/her confident. It is therefore one of the most ideal activities to introduce your child to at an early age.
I hope the above post answers some of your biggest questions about your child and his/her dance training. Please feel free to leave a comment and/or your questions, as I am sure there are still many more of them which you might have with regards to your child’s dance education.
Artistic Director -Rhythmus HappyFeet