• So You Think You’ll Take Dance?

    Dance Classes Do More Than Teach Children How To Move: They Develop Important Life Skills

    By Cristina Dimen

    Little ones often showcase their first dance moves—swaying, bouncing and clappingbefore they take their first steps. As they grow, many kids show an interest in further exploring dance, whether classical ballet, modern dance, tap, jazz, hip hop or ballroom. Yet with so many worthwhile extracurricular activities available, why choose dance?

    Why Dance?

    Dancing positively impacts children’s lives in multiple ways. In addition to gaining self-confidence and learning to express themselves through creative movement, kids develop proper posture along with strength and flexibility; learn to work well with others; cultivate a sense of musicality and more. In fact, says Virginie Mecene, director of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and artistic director of Graham II, dance classes even prepare children for school, as one of the first things small dancers learn is to “focus and pay attention to the teacher.” “Dancers are organized individuals who can juggle their academic and dance classes,” adds Kate Thomas, director of the School at Steps. Through dance, “kids develop patience as they wait for their turn and improve their memory as the sequence of steps gets longer,” says Hanne Larsen, artistic director of Downtown Dance Factory (DDF).

    What To Look For

    When considering dance classes, “Parents should look for a school with experienced teachers who have a warm and positive approach to teaching, a well-equipped facility and, if possible, live accompaniment,” says Julia Dubno, director of Ballet Academy East (BAE). Consider the teaching method as well; Renata Celichowska, director of 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Center, recommends a lyrical and storytelling approach for teaching creative ballet. Most of all, says Jo Matos, director of children’s programming at Joffrey Ballet School, look for a great teacher. “The teacher’s background is more important than state-of-the-art facilities,” Matos says. “The teacher should be in control of the class, while being caring and loving.”

    Most schools offer a range of programs for different age groups, from Mommy & Me classes for 2- and 3-year-olds to pre-ballet classes for 3- to 6-year-olds to more intensive classes for kids 7 and up.

    Getting Serious

    As
    a child’s casual interest in dancing transitions into a more serious
    pursuit, parents should expect an increase in commitment in terms of
    time. “By 11 or 12 years old, students committed to dancing take classes
    four to five days a week, plus rehearsals for performances,” says
    Matos. Yvette Campbell, director of The Ailey Extension, notes, “Serious
    13-year-old dancers take one to two classes a day. At this point,
    dancing could be their only activity outside of school.”

    Supporting Your Dancer

    Parents
    can nurture their child’s interest in dance by watching their latest
    moves, attending student performances and taking them to live
    productions. Finally, “parents should dance—if kids see their parents
    dancing, it will encourage them,” Celichowska says. So go ahead, boogie
    down with your kids, and revel in the joy of creative expression
    together.


    It’s A Boy Thing, Too!

    Many boys show an
    interest in dance from an early age, but too often they write off taking
    dance classes as a “girl thing.” To dispel this perception, remind boys
    that superheroes move in dance-like steps, suggests Virginie Mecene of
    the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Yvette
    Campbell of The Ailey Extension adds that little sports fans may be
    interested to know that many pro football players take dance classes to
    improve their speed and agility. Hanne Larsen and Melanie Zrihen,
    co-founders of Downtown Dance Factory (DDF) in Tribeca, report that boys
    make up 11 percent of their students, in part because of musicals like
    Billy Elliot” and hit shows like “So You Think You Can Dance.” Once
    your boy is ready to give dance a try, start by enrolling him in an
    all-male class—the ones at DDF are taught by male instructors trained in
    dance, sports and martial arts. “Boys have no sense of reticence in
    attending classes since they’re with their guy friends, and not an
    ‘oddity’ in a girls’ class,” Larsen says. —Cristina Dimen


    Where To Take Dance In NYC
    miss_kristins_shooting_stars.jpg
    74th Street Magic, 212-737-2989, 74MAGIC.com.

    92nd Street Y’s School of the Arts, 212-415-5500, 92y.org.

    Albee School of Dance, 718-852-7025, albeedance.com.

    The Ailey Extension, 212-405-9000, alvinailey.org.

    American Youth Dance Theater, 212-717-5419, americanyouthdancetheater.com.

    apple seeds, 212-792-7590, appleseedsnyc.com.

    Applause New York City, 212-717-0703, applauseny.com.

    Ballet Hispanico, 212-362-6710, ballethispanico.org.

    Broadway Dance Center, 212-582-9304, broadwaydancecenter.com.

    Brooklyn Arts Exchange, 718-832-0018, bax.org.

    Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212-721-1223, cmom.org.

    Church Street School for Music and Art, 212-571-7290, churchstreetschool.org.

    Creative Arts Studio, 718-797-5600, creativeartsstudio.com.

    Creative Play For Kids, 212-729-1667, creativeplayforkids.com.

    Dancing Divas and Dudes, 917-279-4351, dancingdivasanddudes.com.

    Discovery Programs, 212-749-8717, discoveryprograms.com.

    Downtown Dance Factory, 917-587-6386, downtowndancefactory.com.

    The Early Ear, 212-877-7125, theearlyear.com.

    Eastside Westside Music Together, 212-496-1242, eswsmusictogether.com.

    Gymboree Play and Music, 212-838-4301, gymboreeclasses.com.

    Gymtime Rhythm and Glues, 212-861-7732, gymtime.net.

    JCC of Manhattan, 646-505-5700, jccmanhattan.org.

    Jodi’s Gym, 212-772-7633, jodisgym.com.

    Joffrey Ballet School, 212-254-8520, joffreyballetschool.com.

    Kidville, 212-362-7792, kidville.com.

    Lower East Side Dance Academy, 212-343-1620, lesdanceacademy.com.

    Lucy Moses School, 212-501-3360, kaufman-center.org.

    Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, 212-787-1178, manhattanmovement.com.

    Manhattan Youth Ballet, 212-787-1178, manhattanyouthballet.org.

    Mark Morris Dance Group, 718-624-8400, markmorrisdancegroup.org.

    Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, 212-838-5886, marthagraham.org.

    Miss Kristin’s Shooting Stars Performing Arts Company, 212-987-2203, kristinsstars.com.

    New York Theatre Ballet, 212-679-0401, nytb.org.

    Peridance Center, 212-505-0886, peridance.com.

    Reebok Sports Club NY, 212-362-6800, thesportsclubla.com.

    The School at Steps, 212-874-3678, stepsnyc.com.

    The Sports Club LA, 212-355-5100, thesportsclubla.com.

    Xtreme Rhythmic Academy, 646-457-7527.

    YMCA, 212-630-9600, ymcanyc.org.

    For more dance venues, check out our classes guide!

  • Calendar

    New York Caribbean Carnival At The Brooklyn Museum

    From Thursday, August 28th to Monday, September 1st, come to Brooklyn to experience all things Caribbean at the New York... [more]

    The Great Dig At The Children’s Museum of Manhattan

    Paleontologists get to have one of the coolest jobs ever: digging up dinosaur bones that are hundreds of thousands of... [more]

    River Rangers Activities At Hudson River Park

    If your child loves learning and the great outdoors, join the River Rangers at Pier 46 in Hudson River Park on... [more]

    NYC Unifest At Various Locations

    Join hundreds of unicyclists for three days of one-wheeled madness! Enjoy fun activities like a 13-mile unicycle ride across Brooklyn,... [more]

    Pajama Party: Seussville Celebration At NY Kids Club

    Drop your child off at the Tribeca NY Kids Club for an evening in Seussville. Little ones will run relay... [more]

    Back To School Jam At The Brooklyn Children’s Museum

    Whether you're a seasoned student or starting school for the first time, join the Brooklyn Children's Museum in celebrating the... [more]

    US Open Viewing Picnic At Brooklyn Bridge Park

    You don't have to be in sitting in Arthur Ashe to score a great seat for this year's US Open! Head... [more]

    Natural Histories at American Museum of Natural History

    Now through October 2014, visitors to the American Museum of Natural History can learn how scientific illustration played a key... [more]

    IMAX: Great White Shark at American Museum of Natural History

    Narrated by Bill Nighy, Great White Shark, the latest IMAX documentary film at the American Museum of Natural History, gets... [more]

    US Open Viewing Picnic At Brooklyn Bridge Park

    You don't have to be in sitting in Arthur Ashe to score a great seat for this year's US Open! Head... [more]

    Natural Histories at American Museum of Natural History

    Now through October 2014, visitors to the American Museum of Natural History can learn how scientific illustration played a key... [more]

    IMAX: Great White Shark at American Museum of Natural History

    Narrated by Bill Nighy, Great White Shark, the latest IMAX documentary film at the American Museum of Natural History, gets... [more]

    US Open Viewing Picnic At Brooklyn Bridge Park

    You don't have to be in sitting in Arthur Ashe to score a great seat for this year's US Open! Head... [more]

    Natural Histories at American Museum of Natural History

    Now through October 2014, visitors to the American Museum of Natural History can learn how scientific illustration played a key... [more]

    IMAX: Great White Shark at American Museum of Natural History

    Narrated by Bill Nighy, Great White Shark, the latest IMAX documentary film at the American Museum of Natural History, gets... [more]

    US Open Viewing Picnic At Brooklyn Bridge Park

    You don't have to be in sitting in Arthur Ashe to score a great seat for this year's US Open! Head... [more]

    Natural Histories at American Museum of Natural History

    Now through October 2014, visitors to the American Museum of Natural History can learn how scientific illustration played a key... [more]

    IMAX: Great White Shark at American Museum of Natural History

    Narrated by Bill Nighy, Great White Shark, the latest IMAX documentary film at the American Museum of Natural History, gets... [more]

    US Open Viewing Picnic At Brooklyn Bridge Park

    You don't have to be in sitting in Arthur Ashe to score a great seat for this year's US Open! Head... [more]

    Natural Histories at American Museum of Natural History

    Now through October 2014, visitors to the American Museum of Natural History can learn how scientific illustration played a key... [more]

    IMAX: Great White Shark at American Museum of Natural History

    Narrated by Bill Nighy, Great White Shark, the latest IMAX documentary film at the American Museum of Natural History, gets... [more]

  • Sign up here for the

    New York Family

    newsletters

    Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
    Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
    Please provide a valid email address.
    Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your e-mail inbox.
    Please complete the CAPTCHA.
    Please fill in the required fields.
  • Latest Issue
  • New York Family Guides