What is the minimum age to start taking classes?
I had students that start to take Belly Dance classes when they were 3 years old. The dance classes provide many benefits to everyone. Thinking specifically about children, the classes will help to improve their nonverbal communication, develop their social and emotional relationship in the world, and amplify the development and knowledge with their own body’s ability.
Dance classes have uncountable benefits for children. Starting to develop their skills at a young age is one of the best ways for these children to become more confident adults.
It is important to work on their abilities gradually. First, introducing step by step the new student to the new group and new activities. After some classes, your new student will feel much more confident and will enjoy the group in every single activity executed during the class. It is very important to create a pedagogical system to teach classes for children. We should always keep in our minds that our students are kids and they are still learning the meaning of words, and they are learning how their bodies can work and what abilities they can develop and improve.
I like to follow 2 types of strategy to work in my kids’ classes:
Creativity with guide expression:
In this case, I will guide the exercises in class giving them directions, example:
1- Once upon a time we were seeds and I want to see this seed, grown and become a beautiful flower.
2- Once upon a time we were a snowman, but summer is coming and we start to melt.
3- Once upon a time we were elephants. I want to see how the elephants walk. Now we become little tiny ants, etc.
I start work with them with activities like the example above, and gradually I add to these games the basic belly dance movements. Keeping the same strategy, associating what they already know with this new vocabulary and motor expression:
1- Snake arms: First we will think together. What is the movement that a snake does? (If it is possible, draw it on a whiteboard. It could be drawn as a sideways S). After, figure out together and be sure that everyone was able to visualize these movements. Then, we will finally try to reproduce these movements with the arms and with the body. Let their creativity flow.
2- Walking Shimmy or Little Ant: This movement could be associated with the little ant. Walking in their hills, tapping their feet on the ground randomly. Short and continuous steps that will produce the shimmy effect on the hips.
There are thousands of variations and possibilities. Be creative and link their imagination with techniques.
It is important to observe the child. In this way, you will be able to develop their movements and perceptions based on what they already know. And always introducing a new challenge to them in a recreational way.
The dance classes, of course, are a moment to learn, and it needs to be taken seriously. However, kids will learn more if they have fun. When you are able to grab their attention with a different stimulus, you are able to develop their skills and abilities in a fun way.
Creativity with a free expression:
Besides the guide activities, we need to teach them how to express themselves. Dance is not only, and cannot be only based on copy or reproduce what you learn. Dance is an expression of your feelings, thoughts and one of the best ways to learn how to express who you are.
In my classes, I use songs with different rhythms: fast, slow, melancholic, happy. And I let the students free to incorporate the movements that they have been learning in class while dancing to the different beats! I let them express their feelings and learn how to be sensible to interpret a song, beats, and emotions.
Tip: Turn down the lights, if you have a special or colorful illumination in your classroom, turn it on. Make your classroom a comfortable environment. In this way, your students will feel even more confident to let their imagination flow. It is an easy way to help with their shyness.
The capacity to pay attention for children is still being developed at this stage. Because of this, we need to be even more creative, to grab their attention and make sure they enjoy the classroom at all times. Here is a tip to make your class flows without your students getting overwhelmed.
Tip: Use colors (lights, veils, balls, balloons), songs with different rhythms, veils with different sizes, weight, colors, daffs and/or zill to stimulate the musicality, drawn with them on a sheet of paper the movements that they will learn in class, etc.
A dance class can provide benefits for children’s’ lives in general. Once in my belly dance studio, I had proof that this was true. My little student’s mother was crying in the reception area, and it was before my Belly Kids class started. It made me wonder what was happening there.
Then, it was a big surprise for me. When she told me the reason for her crying. She was crying because she was very happy and proud of her daughter! She told me that since her daughter started the belly dance classes, she had been improving a lot in school. She has been more participative, confident and talkative. So let’s dance! It does not matter how old you are! It is always time to start and allow dance to change your life for the better.